Bike Rental Startup Bounce has Aggressive Plans with Electric Vehicles
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An idea which took off as a ‘fantasy’ to own a superbike led trio Anil Giri, Varun Agni and Vivekananda HR to start a bike rental service in 2014. What started with 550 superbikes has culminated in enabling 70,000 people use the service every day. After clocking over a million rides in less than a year, the Bengaluru-based start-up is looking at expanding base to other cities. With more than 8,000 scooters in its fleet, Bounce offers commutes, short rides and long rides. Excerpts from an interaction with Anil Giri, Co-Founder, Bounce.
Starting off with a premium bike rental service, how did Bounce become Bengaluru’s daily commute enabler?
When Bengaluru Metro started its service, we realized there was huge potential for bike service as people had to rely on a cab, bus or an auto for last-mile connectivity. We approached the Bengaluru Metro and won the tender to float our bike service. As we started our services, we realized the biggest gaps in daily commute were time and cost. Two-wheelers came out to be the fastest mode of transportation and at Rs 5 per km our bi service was way cheaper than all other modes of transportation. Moreover, it was the flexibility we offered with Bounce vehicles that attracted the customers. The rider could use it for however long he wanted and wherever he wanted to ride without worrying about dropping it off in a particular location. The keyless operation makes it highly convenient and flexible.
There have been incidents of commuters dumping vehicles in drains. How are you preventing such incidents?
Well, we do have such incidents, but we also have incidents of a citizen recovering 30 Bounce helmets and returning to us. Honestly, I think the solution lies in adopting Bounce as a community initiative. It takes time, but certainly things will change when we realize that the solution is to address the problem of a larger community. Having said that, we are also working on building technology to address these concerns.
What are your plans to adopt electric vehicles?
Right now, we have a small fleet of 400-500 EVs. As long as it is a viable option, there’s no reason why we should not go 100 per cent EVs. Across the world, the biggest concern customers have is how to charge the battery if it dies down on road. We do not have the necessary infrastructure to support smooth EV commuting. However, as an operator if we buy a lot of vehicles, we will take care of the operations and even set up recharging stations. Anyone using an EV will be able to swap/recharge the battery at our stations.
Eventually, you have spoken about adopting a franchise model to expand. Walk us through your plans.
We are looking to tie up with over 3,000 kirana stores to facilitate battery swapping for EVs across the city. This will not be just for Bounce users but other EV users too. The franchise model will enable store owners to invest Rs 50,000 to earn handsome margins on battery swapping. We are running pilots of the model and will expand the franchise base as we mature the system and expand.
What are your future plans?
By the next quarter, we target to achieve 1.5-2 lakh rides per day and will add 1 lakh scooters over the next 12 months. In addition, we will scale our operations to 6-8 cities over the next 12 months. Our vision is to facilitate 1 million rides per day.
(This article was first published in the December 2019 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)