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Can Ola-Backed VOGO Take Its Promising Bike Rental Success To An Electric Future?

Can Ola-Backed VOGO Take Its Promising Bike Rental Success To An Electric Future?

Handling round 4-5 Mn rides an afternoon throughout the country, Ola and Uber have now end up an crucial part of Indian mobility area, in particular in important towns and metros. However, those figures are nevertheless insignificant compared to the journeys completed in micro-mobility area which stands at 66% of the overall journeys. Therein lies a large untapped opportunity.

In 2016, no longer best did Ola and Uber launch their motorcycle taxi offerings in India, but a host of different startups additionally entered the distance. However, simply the bifurcation of the cars market into trip-hailing/sharing agencies together with Uber, and self-power automobile condo carrier structures including Zoomcar, the 2-wheeler trip servicing systems also are break up into models with platforms presenting motorcycle taxis (Rapido) and structures providing on-demand condominium offerings (VOGO).

As with many different startup sectors, Bengaluru stays the hub for 2-wheeler experience servicing platforms as well. Around a dozen of startups — Rapido, Bounce (Metro Bikes), Fae Bikes, QuickRides, VOGO, Wheelstreet and Yulu — have mushroomed in the metropolis, within the closing couple of years. It’s no longer simply Bengaluru on my own — other apps which include Mobycy and Baxi are established in Gurugram.

The micro-mobility space has its own set of demanding situations, inclusive of bad road infrastructure, growing carbon footprint, and policy-associated hurdles. Recently, the Karnataka state government had asked Ola and Rapido to forestall bike taxis’ operation because of the truth that the state has no coverage for bike taxis and the government thus has termed motorbike taxis illegal.

Given this case, a few startups together with Mobycy, Fae bikes and VOGO have managed to carve out a gap inside the untapped bike-sharing and condominium area.


Founded in 2016 via Anand Ayyadurai, Padmanabhan Balakrishnan, and Sanchit Mittal, Bengaluru-based VOGO, developing at 10X yearly has been on a dream run given that coming directly to the scene. Interestingly, it started out out with a fleet of cars and scooters, earlier than pivoting to a scooter-only version. Currently, it’s trying to extend its fleet and increase the percentage of electrical scooters in its roster.

Unlike the popular Goa-version in which bikes are rented for days and months, VOGO provides on-call for dockless, scooter-rental offerings in which expenses are levied in step with kilometre and/or per minute. The company has also filed patents for its innovations, which make it a lot greater patron-pleasant. For example, their app which in advance used OTP to authenticate bookings now uses Bluetooth to unlock the parked scooters, which facilitates reduce friction for the customers.

cft spoke to cofounder and CEO Ayyadurai to decode the chant at the back of VOGO’s preliminary momentum.

cft: Tell us approximately the making of Vogo?

Anand Ayyadurai: After put up-graduating from IIM Ahmedabad, I labored for AstraZeneca for 2 years and then with Flipkart in diverse leading capacities for almost three years and later joined Housing.Com, because the partner vice president for few months.

At Flipkart, I were given in contact with Paddy (Padmanabhan Balakrishnan) who extensively utilized to paintings at Flipkart and Zoomcar and at Housing.Com, I met Sanchit. I am thus a commonplace hyperlink between the two.

By 2015, with a desire to set up our very own commercial enterprise, we were exploring unique ideas. The concept became no longer handiest make something huge however some thing physical. We wanted to construct and operate physical products which are similarly subsidized by using generation. I, personally, at Flipkart loved the idea of delivering bodily merchandise to the customers.

In the ride-hailing, we noticed numerous friction and gaps at numerous points throughout the trip. And, therefore, the initial concept changed into to build a vehicle and scooter-sharing platform. While cars had been imagined to meet the inter-town requirements, scooters had been to satisfy intracity requirements.

This is how we began.

cft: So, you commenced with vehicles and scooters, but now simplest recognition on scooters; why did you drop car-sharing?

Anand Ayyadurai: There have been severa elements in the back of this. First, Indians use scooters some distance more than the opposite kinds of delivery. The quantity of scooter-journeys in India is far extra than the range of trips through automobiles and taxis mixed.

Second, in maximum of the cities of India, it is the scooters which are not most effective low-budget but also cater to the Indian riders needs, thinking about the visitors and avenue infrastructure. A big segment of humans can’t have enough money automobiles or taxis in any respect.

As we grew, we realised it's far higher to attention on one opportunity at a time.

cft: Many of the Indian states do no longer have the proper rules for bike taxis. Recently, Ola and Rapido were banned from working bike taxis in Bengaluru. Does such news trouble you?   

Anand Ayyadurai: Bike taxis are operated below one-of-a-kind permit mechanism. Our model is completely specific from that of Ola. Our allow is just like what Zoomcar has.

cft: Which towns are you operating in? What is the modern-day fleet ability?

Anand Ayyadurai: We are present in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. In Bengaluru, we've got deep penetration within the regions of Marathahalli and HSR Layout. In phrases of fleet, we have currently round 5K scooters with 60% of them in Bengaluru and rest in Hyderabad.

Out of the 5K, two hundred scooters are electric powered which we've got launched in HSR format on a pilot foundation. In Chennai also, we have introduced a few electric scooters at a number of the metro stations if you want to provide remaining mile provider.

Among the Tier 2 towns, we're eager to launch in Mysuru as properly.

cft: Electric motorcycles have their own professionals and cons. The excessive charging time and constrained walking time scales down their availability. What’s your take?

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Anand Ayyadurai: We launched electric powered scooters in January. Yes, with electric scooters, there are different issues that we must tackle. For example, we've requested their manufacturers to feature greater functions together with data associated with battery management; how many kilometres the electrical scooter may run with the closing battery and so on. We have additionally requested them to make those scooters more rugged to have a longer existence.

In the case of electric motors, it's far vital for customers to recognise how lengthy this car ought to run. Most of the electrical automobiles run 40 Km-50 Km on a single fee. Once the cars are below 1/2 charged, customers are constantly worried if it'd at all take them to the destination.

Currently, we have electric powered scooters most effective at HSR format in which we've got established 10 charging stations.

cft: The authorities intends to head 30% all-electric powered via extent by using 2030; but, there is no policy in area out of doors FAME. What needs to be done?

Anand Ayyadurai: Today, the largest electric car (EV) market (In India) is of 3-wheelers. In Delhi, there is a completely large three-wheeler EV marketplace and now slowly, 2-wheelers have started selecting [up].

We bought our cars earlier than FAME II came into region. However, we did get the advantages of round 20K-25K greenbacks per vehicle according with FAME I. So, honestly, FAME has been a beneficial scheme for us.

However, for us, retaining the uptime of automobiles excessive is essential, and there are areas in which the authorities is anticipated to carry readability.

First, the standardisation of EV infrastructure. The government need to look into standardising the EV-related infrastructure. For example, what have to be the battery voltage which currently varies from 12V to 48V? The battery size ought to additionally be standardised. It varies from one manufacturer to every other. This will assist develop modular infrastructure, if you want to make things less complicated for customers.

Secondly, the authorities desires to clarify what type of infrastructure it's miles going to promote — charging or swapping.

This will attract investments. If nowadays, we find swapping is going to be the destiny, we can think of making an investment INR 50-INR a hundred Cr in developing the infrastructure.

If the government received’t do, the enterprise will find its personal way; but, it would take time.

By the end of the next year, I see there gained’t be an awful lot of charging trouble. There are greater companies planning to go into electric scooter space in a large way together with Ather Energy. And, we can assume greater charging stations throughout the city as a way to actually resolve the users’ concerns.

cft: Maintenance might be a massive issue. How do you meet the preservation requirement of those dockless scooters?

Anand Ayyadurai: A lot of attempt has been made to upkeep the vehicle’s situations. It isn't simply to lessen the renovation fee, but the downtime as well. More the downtime of cars, the extra it impacts the sales. This adds to the time loss in addition to customer loss.

We have built plenty of in-residence IoT technologies. Out of one hundred thirty group of workers, we have around 70 hardware engineers. We have developed an in-house mechanism for tracking motors, anti-gas theft or tyre theft mechanism. This has decreased the opportunity of customers harming scooters. We have filed patents on anti-gasoline theft and tyre robbery mechanism. We have even designed our very own sensors.

We have a blended setup for the preservation. Besides having partnered with the authorised provider centres, we've our very own set up for the preservation too.

Unlike four-wheelers, scooters are employed for quick trips. Hence the customers’ expectancies are also small. They want simply to reach out to the vacation spot competently. While preservation is done regularly nearly on a month-to-month basis, in case of any unexpected breakdown aid may be furnished inside a couple of minutes.

cft: What’s cooking with Ola?

Anand Ayyadurai: We are doing more than one matters with Ola. One of the stuff (sic) which you would possibly have heard is that Ola has invested $a hundred Mn in VOGO to enable the later to get 100K scooters.

The 2d element is getting indexed on Ola platform. We are nevertheless working at the mechanism. By the quit of this year, you may see VOGO indexed on Ola too.

cft: What’s your revenue version?

Anand Ayyadurai: On the deliver side, unlike journey-hailing platforms, we don’t need to incentivise everyone. It’s certainly a scooter which comes at a hard and fast price. The price is less than INR four/ Km which incorporates gas, maintenance and EMI mixed. We are currently charging INR five/Km.

Operationally, our commercial enterprise does no longer want money but for quicker expansion.

cft: What’s the plan down the line?

Anand Ayyadurai: Our plan is to be throughout all the towns within the next 2-5 years. But, for the following nine-12 months, the focus remains at deepening our presence on Bengaluru and Hyderabad. However, on the equal time, we also are making our small presence in other cities like Chennai, which might be scaled up later.

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Currently, we have one hundred-110 spots in which bikes will be observed. Within 2-three months, we purpose to double this. In the case of electrical motorcycles, we are nonetheless identifying the nice places to park the scooters as it needs charging factors as nicely.

With an aim to obtain 10% electric scooters, we've got planned to have 100K scooters by means of this yr-give up.

The Changing Equation In The Mobility Space

VOGO, in a quick span, has controlled to raise over $116 Mn and the business version looks specifically promising; be it, going 10% all-electric powered or obtaining 100K scooters by way of 2019-end.

And, it is not handiest VOGO but the reality that -wheelers makes eighty one% of the overall home marketplace implying that Indians are greater acquainted with riding two-wheelers than some other cars that have additionally attracted large traders from India and overseas.

VOGO, along side YC alumnus Wheelstreet, and the likes of Bounce, Mobycy, QuickRide have attracted massive buyers along with WestBridge Capital, Ola, Flipkart cofounders Sachin and Binny Bansal, South African media massive Naspers, challenge firm Sequoia Capital India and Matrix Partners. This genuinely gives desire to new players and balance to the segment.

However, enlargement of this new marketplace isn't all right as two-wheelers also are the big providers of carbon footprints. Despite the dearth of an effective policy, as has been the criticism from many ventures in this discipline, startups and entrepreneurs managing micro-mobility have already stepped up to embody the e-mobility as destiny, a path which Ola is badly suffering to keep up.

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