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Greenko founders lead $11-mn funding round at Skyroot

While GIC and ADIA hold 61% and 15%, respectively, in Greenko, founders Mahesh Kolli and Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty (in picture) own the remaining 24%Premium
While GIC and ADIA hold 61% and 15%, respectively, in Greenko, founders Mahesh Kolli and Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty (in picture) own the remaining 24%

  • The financing round also saw participation from former chief business officer at WhatsApp, Neeraj Arora; Myntra and CureFit founder Mukesh Bansal, who is also an existing investor; Solar Group; Worldquant Ventures; Graph Ventures; Sutton Capital; and Vedanshu Investments.

NEW DELHI : Greenko founders Mahesh Kolli and Anil Kumar Chalamalasetty have invested in Skyroot Aerospace, an Indian startup that is building private space launch vehicles.

The $11 million series-A financing round was led by Kolli and Chalamalasetty who are president and joint managing director, and chief executive and managing director, respectively, at green energy firm Greenko. Greenko has an equity value of $5.75 billion.

This comes against the backdrop of the Union cabinet last June deciding to open up the space sector for private sector participation, and cleared the creation of a new entity, Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), to encourage private companies to use India’s space infrastructure.

“This is so far the largest investment in the Indian space startup scene," Skyroot Aerospace said in a statement on Thursday.

Skyroot, founded by former Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) scientists, plans to raise an additional $40 million and is working on its first launch vehicle Vikram-1. It plans to start global bookings from middle of next year. This comes at a time when Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX founded by Elon Musk and Blue Origin founded by Jeff Bezos are actively working on private commercial space travel.

The financing round also saw participation from former chief business officer at WhatsApp Neeraj Arora, Myntra and CureFit founder Mukesh Bansal who is also an existing investor, Solar Group, Worldquant Ventures, Graph Ventures, Sutton Capital and Vedanshu Investments. Bansal was an early investor on board and has already invested $1.5 million through his incubator Meraki Labs.

“We believe Skyroot is a strong emerging player in the global space industry, and we are excited to partner with them on their mission to democratize space access," Chalamalasetty and Kolli said in a joint statement.

Hyderabad-based Greenko is promoted by GIC Holdings Pte. Ltd, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Japan' ORIX Corp. While GIC Holdings Pte. Ltd and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority currently hold 56% and 14%, respectively, in Greenko, Japan’s financial services firm ORIX Corp. has a 17.5% stake. Kolli and Chalamalasetty own the remaining stake.

“The next-generation technology Skyroot is building today will unlock potential for sustainability interventions, space-based research, data analytics and telecommunications," the joint statement added.

With an operational portfolio to 7.3 gigawatt (GW), Greenko has India’s largest operational clean energy portfolio. Greenko is also building power storage projects with total capacity of 8 GW across six states in India as part of its plan to provide on-demand power from wind and solar projects and is also partnering with state-run NTPC Ltd to develop "round-the-clock" power supply.

As part of the government’ plan, space assets and data will be opened to private players, and IN-SPACe will provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.

“Isro has been offering great support to us. We signed an agreement with them and are working closely for our testing and launch requirements," said Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder and chief executive officer of Skyroot in the statement.

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