The shared mobility space is one of the fastest-growing sectors in India, witnessing tremendous innovation with a market opportunity of $4.5 billion. Bounce, the country’s first dockless scooter sharing service intends to strike it big and is expanding in major cities across the country, Varun Agni, CTO and Co-Founder, Bounce tells Sunitha Natti of The Morning Standard in an interview. Excerpts:
When did Bounce start operations?
Bounce is India’s first dockless scooter sharing service, with a mission to facilitate easier access to mobility. Founded by Vivekananda H R, Anil G, and Varun Agnt, the company was started in 2014 under the name WickedRide, in the luxury bike rental segment. Soon we identified a looming need for first and last-mile connectivity across the country, which led to the launch of Bounce in 2018. We began our operations in Bangalore with 100 dockless scooters and today, we have a presence in over 35 cities under the rented/docked model. Currently, we operate a fleet of over 19,000 dockless scooters and clock over 1.1 lakh rides daily.
What are its key offerings?
Bounce is the only Indian brand and one of the three globally to provide dockless scooter sharing, i.e. users can pick up the scooter/cycles from anywhere and drop them at any legal parking spot within the city. Our patented keyless technology gives us a competitive edge to remain dockless. The company has invested heavily in technology to ensure the safety and security of its users and assets. Each Bounce bike is equipped with sensors enabled for safety, analytics and efficiency.
They also use GPS tagging and geo-fencing features, which prevents misuse and avoids theft through remote immobilization. The sensors alert the team in case of crashes, towing or battery tampering, allowing us to track traffic violations if any. We have tied up with several government authorities such a BMTC, Namma Metro, Hyderabad Metro to encourage people to use public transport by providing better first and last-mile connectivity. Today over 42 per cent of Bounce rides originate or end at a metro station.
What’s the market potential for shared e-mobility solutions in the country?
India is currently home to 15 of the 20 most polluting cities around the world. Government has recently proposed a new plan of making all two-wheelers up to 150cc electric by 2025, which contributes
90 per cent of the total two-wheeler market in India. Two-wheelers consume approximately 60-65 per cent of the total petrol available.
We believe that migration to Electric Vehicles (EV) is important for sustainable mobility. India’s push to accelerate EV in the country is to lower the fuel import bill burden and reduce the increasing CO2 emission. The two-wheeler industry is heading for a major disruption, and we are gearing up to tackle the upcoming challenges and are investing heavily in our R&D. However, the transition to mass electrification will require massive investments. EV two-wheelers are already hitting the roads in small numbers.
Currently, there are over 1,000 electric Bounce scooters deployed in Bangalore and we are working on increasing our EV fleet. We engage with government officials and NITI Aayog on upcoming policies and are enthusiastic about the EV proposal. Our objective is to play a catalyst to this transformation by making mobility affordable, hassle-free and convenient. The shared mobility space is currently one of the fastest-growing sectors in India and is witnessing tremendous innovation with a market opportunity of $4.5 billion.
What were the key growth-stage challenges?
One of the key challenges that we faced when we started out was not having any sort of benchmarking or point of reference that could tell us if we were headed in the right direction. Since the organized bike rental industry didn’t exist then, there were no parallels we could draw and no standard industry practices we could look at, which essentially meant every step we took came with risks. Parking availability remains one of the biggest pain points in major metro cities.
We are tackling this by working with the government and establishing designated Bounce parking spots. For example, at Electronics City in Bengaluru, we work with Electronics City Industrial Township Authority and have Bounce designated parking spots. We are focusing on helping people use MRTs by creating designated Bounce parking spaces.
Is the service economical? Are you c.........onsidering exploring other states and markets?
Our service is priced at Rs 1/KM & Rs 1.5/Min making it one of the most economical rides in any city. We hope to introduce Bounce across the country and innovate constantly on different models. Currently, we are looking at expanding to 10 tier 1 cities and approximately 100 tier 2 and 3 cities next year.
How much have you invested so far? Are you raising any fresh funds?
We have raised $102 million through Series A, B and C rounds of funding. As a start-up, we are always on the look-out for fresh investments to fuel our growth plans.