The term brings up snap shots of a dusty visitor status within the middle of a toll road, thumb caught out, backpack located towards the side of a toll road marker expecting the kindness of a passing car. It’s an idealistic photograph, isn’t it? When one thinks of hitchhiking, it’s continually the passenger flagging a four-wheeler on a long journey in the center of nowhere, or in case your own car breaks down within the center and you want help getting to the closest storage.
The wide variety of 4 wheelers operating in India are 22 Mn, as in step with this file from the Ministry of Transport. And there are about 5 Mn taxis working in India, in total – this consists of taxis plying with cab aggregators such as Ola, Uber, Meru and personal services. In stark evaluation, in line with a Credit Suisse file, there are about one hundred fifty five Mn two wheelers running on Indian roads, mainly in Tier II and Tier III towns, in which automobiles are nevertheless taken into consideration a own family luxury and cab-hailing is considered an pricey proposition. The disparity in numbers among 4 wheelers and wheelers is 6x-7x.
With traffic congestion a perennial hassle throughout India, and a massive range of wheelers (with an to be had empty seat) available for the taking, company honchos Shashank Kansal and Ruchir Gupta created a motorcycle pooling app – BYKUP. BYKUP’s simple USP is that it connects a biker and a rider on prescribed metropolis travel routes.
The biker gets to ‘offer a lift’ and the rider ‘accepts the elevate’ via geo-mapping algorithms, as per the internet site – turning the ancient mode of hitchhiking on its head and giving it a tech twist.
The Jaipur-based business enterprise controlled to raise $200K in angel investment in tranches of $100K in January and October 2016 respectively, and has a group of 14 , in the interim. BYKUP went live on the beta model in Android in the Tier II town of Jaipur and Hyderabad in August 2016 and increased to Pune later.
“First of all, in Latin America and Spain, hitchhikers don’t draw their thumb up to signal for a trip. They preserve it sideways. It signifies their reputation as a hitchhiker. So that is the primary delusion busted,” begins Shashank with a laugh. “And then, we call it bike pooling due to the fact the idea of the app depends on making day by day commuting easy for everyday travelers. It’s now not random hitchhiking. We need BYKUP to grow to be your habitual shipping,” adds Ruchir.
The Not-To-Do List That Led To Founding A Business
“Ruchir and I always desired to work collectively,” stocks Shashank. The duo became pals round 2003 while Shashank become running the company grind and Ruchir changed into constructing his BPO commercial enterprise. “We kept speakme about it on and rancid however it became simplest a chance meeting in Lisbon in 2015 that sparked all of it off.” They definitely ended up making a Not To-Do list after they brainstormed for potential ideas.
They did no longer need a enterprise that required inventory (fixed assets), hired a big variety of people and shouldn’t be ecommerce, or a foodtech undertaking. But they did need to construct some thing that changed into platform-driven and leveraged the extra than three hundred Mn Indian mobile population. “We desired to construct for the loads. We understand the cost of trade, however on the identical time we have been additionally looking to add social fee and supply lower back to the network,” adds Shashank.
And it become Ruchir who really stumbled, or alternatively drove, to the concept that changed into BYKUP as it's miles these days.
“I am a massive golfing enthusiast. And one time, once I became going to a game on the local golf path in Jaipur, I met a random commuter who desired to reach the same region as me. I gave him a lift and that changed into whilst it hit me, ‘Could I discover if this random commuter was going inside the same course as me, in real-time or at a pre-scheduled time?’ And so the idea for the business enterprise became born – connecting humans from point A to factor B in actual-time,” says Ruchir.
They were very focussed on differentiating themselves from present motorcycle taxi apps and journey-hailing apps. “Companies which includes Uber are seeking to disrupt the taxi industry, we wanted to supplement the 2-wheeler enterprise. They are basically for the metros, whilst we've made a deliberate decision to live far from metros for now. Uber is also about the fixed asset which generates earnings, we aren’t.”
Ruchir explains this factor by using talking approximately the Uber commercial enterprise version. The car (constant asset) comes with a driving force who drives the rider from Point A to Point B, creating a positive percentage of income alongside the manner. By contrast, BYKUP’s enterprise model seems to show a dead seat (the empty backseat of a two-wheeler) right into a supply-call for industry through joining commuters at the identical journey and monetising this enjoy. “It’s what Airbnb did to the room-sharing enterprise – personalized it by way of commencing up a brand new and trusted road of experience and profits for the world.”
Using Algorithms To Matchmake Daily Commutes
BYKUP’s app works on a simple method – once it's miles downloaded by means of the user (a potential rider or biker), they are able to check in on the platform. After a three-step verification procedure which includes the automobile range, the subsequent step is to add the advent-destination factors of the adventure to schedule your every day go back and forth.
“Our in-constructed algorithms takes over the technique and proceeds to suit the 2 the use of a diffusion of different parameters including GPS, mapping for course optimisation or even minute info together with what number of miles the biker is inclined to exit of his manner,” says Shashank. The fit takes area inside a one-mile radius, for you to boom convenience for the users.
Shashank also talks about the transparency aspect of the platform and generation. As according to him, most of the experience-hailing apps have two apps – one for the drivers and one for the person. “Our app is the same for both riders and bikers. It helps in building believe while you could see the profile of the character you’re going to be sharing your daily experience with.” Shashank additionally reveals that the app has a integrated mutual friends characteristic – in which the rider and biker can take a look at to look in the event that they have any pals in common, including to the agree with issue.
They also candidly talk about the skewed male-female ratio in customers and riders: ninety%-10%. So, the company ensures that consumer safety is sorted by using matching in step with genders too.
The motorbike driving force can do 2-4 rides an afternoon to make sure price healing in relation to service supplied. “The average trip fee is INR 2.30/km. Our suggestive price is INR 3/km with value and time concerns,” says Shashank. He also adds that the platform will take a percentage of the price charged, however for now, the money for the trip goes at once to the bikers in complete.
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The founders do reveal that the organization has controlled to acquire 100K users (32 K bikers) until March 2016, within 8 months of operation. While the app is presently free for use, the commercial enterprise model the agency intends to observe is a platform charge to be charged to all customers. “At this point, we are searching at attaining vital mass and focussing on expansion and scale, pleasant-tuning the product,” Ruchir adds.
Becoming The Go-Jek Of India While Combating The Bike Taxi Hex
Much like hyperlocal and foodtech in 2015, motorbike pooling startups in India have visible a large lower in user retention and have been forced to down their shutters, as in keeping with this March 2017 TOI report. This includes names inclusive of Headlyt, Heybob, Zingo, Dot, TuWheelz, Rideji. A few others together with MTaxi and Bikxie have pivoted to attention on deliveries. There are funded startups – Rapido – who've such traders as Google’s Southeast Asia and India VP Rajan Anandan, Hero Motorcorp Chairman Pawan Munjal. Fellow startup Baxi has raised INR nine Cr from Dalmia Group, HT Media and angel investors. Uber’s UberMOTO, released in October 2016, failed to discover giant traction in Faridabad as in keeping with VCCircle.
But both Rapido and Baxi guard their position through bringing up governmental assist and focussing on offline operations for their investment and version achievement.
In such an unsure surroundings it behooves us to ask the rationale in the back of setting out inside the bikepooling space. The founders cite Southeast Asian unicorn Go-Jek as the nice example of how bikepooling is a viable business model – both from a user acquisition and monetary point of view.
“Indonesia has continually had a tradition of ojeks – motorcycles used for business purposes – and so the tradition already existed for a business to take off. In India, -wheeler sharing has to grow to be commercially, socially and culturally ideal in order for the vertical to gain legitimacy and traction,” Shashank says candidly.
Ruchir provides that those bike-taxis have shut down because they have got attempted to observe the experience-hailing model of doing business – turning a fixed asset right into a source of earnings. “A motorbike motive force can’t drive for eight hours in a day each day for 2 months. His returned will provide out. Then what? Also, giving discounts isn't always the excellent manner of obtaining users. Brand loyalty can't be created with the aid of giving reductions – customers will leap ship the minute a person else gives more cashback or a higher discount. The product has to stand on its own merit due to the fact it is affordable, convenient and solves a actual need.”
It is perhaps for that reason that the duo is emphatic about terming BYKUP as a ‘bikepooling’ service and not a bike taxi. It is also why they're insistent on pushing the service for the bikers as a source for 2d profits. Car-hailingg apps are following a immediately business model of doing business. They have created an artificial supply for acquiring drivers (through incentives, perks and schemes) main to the marketplace being crowded. But when the market will rationalise as all markets are bound to, the funded agencies will want extra than deep wallet to compete with the supply-demand trouble.”
And then, we come to rural-urban demographics. Commuters in metropolitan regions price time over cash. As consistent with the founders, they're willing to shell that greater INR 50-INR 100 with the intention to flag a cab and get to their vacation spot in the quickest, maximum trouble-free way possible. Not so in Tier II and beneath areas.
Where automobiles are nevertheless considered a ‘family vehicle’ and bikes are extra easily to be had as a method of shipping, each because they're cheaper and extra green in getting round non-connected regions.
“In 2016, about sixteen Mn two-wheelers had been bought, with 1 Mn added on a per year foundation. Six hundred Mn Indians from rural regions are going to migrate greater urban regions and they all come from the small town – buying a bike, zipping alongside anyplace they need to move in a moment and now not fear about rising petrol prices etc. We are banking in this lifestyle of the usage of motorcycles to show into motorcycle-sharing adoption and create a strong base of customers for us,” says Shashank.
Thus, BYKUP is focused on the emerging 18-30 populace from non-urban India, the six hundred Mn who are poised to return into their personal – spend sensible and decision making smart. They are looking at locations – approximately 1 Mn-4 Mn in populace – which go through the same visitors gridlock trouble and don’t have public delivery options available in mainstream cities inclusive of Mumbai, Delhi and many others. So their future plans encompass looking to amplify to 30 (non-metro) cities across India within the foreseeable future.
They also are eyeing the worldwide economic system with a Master List of one hundred cities in Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe.
Perhaps, this is why the duo has decided to increase to all their target towns at the identical time in place of taking pictures one metropolis at a time. For a business enterprise that started as a lunch-time conversation between two old pals, the road in advance seems endless, even if full of velocity bumps.
Unlike Asian and American nations, motorcycle-sharing in India isn't as popular as experience-hailing, in all likelihood due to the inherent consider problems flaring up from sharing two seats on a transferring vehicle. This coupled with the heavy discount pricing as well as commercialising the usage of two-wheelers has resulted in a downturn of startups on this region.
ByKUP appears to have understood the need to leverage 2nd tier towns which additionally face the equal gridlock visitors troubles as confronted through metros, but with a extraordinarily weaker public delivery gadget. Then too, there's these days passed authorities regulation that has been implemented in states like Rajasthan, bearing in mind the strolling of bikes as commercial automobiles. All these motives and BYKUP’s idea of waiving the platform charge to onboard users looks to be paying off.
But in a culturally-minded us of a like India, in which even demonstrated giants Ola and Uber had to rollback their motorbike taxi operations, it remains to be seen if the nascent startup can gain important mass and preserve expanding in all of the distinctive towns it is seeking to pass active in, in a highly short amount of time.