Startup Saturday: Cycling experience that keeps you on ‘track’
Akash, Rashi and Anuj have developed the Mobycy app which can track, record and lock your bicycle with its GPS technology.Updated: Mar 31, 2018 15:35 IST
Seems like eons, but time was when Pune used to be a bicycle city. But our roads are now plagued with carbon monoxide spewing cars, scooters and buses that clog the roads. Despite the torture of driving on Pune’s roads, Punekars cannot imagine a world with their vehicles.
Would you cycle to work? Yeah sure, you’d like to reduce air pollution levels, you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, but would you actually get on a bicycle and ride to work? Cross your heart and the answer would be no.
Akash Gupta, Rashi Agarwal and Anuj Patel of Mobycy- An online bicycle sharing platform thought it differently.
Akash says, “Our mission was to reduce the carbon footprint, be benign with our environment and help people stay fit. The cycle seemed like a great way to do this. But would people actually do this? Then we saw a report that said that in India 78 Million people walk to work daily.”
“And that set the ball rolling. If you have to get people to use a bicycle you have to make it easy. To find a bike on the road. To keep the bike safe from theft. For this, we built an app- Mobycy. Anuj is our technical guy and our app using GPS helps anyone who wants to ride a bike,” he added.
Working of Mobycy:
Akash explains, “We just recently (three weeks ago) launched our app in Pune and it has received a tremendous response. Every day our 120 cycles are clocking 400 rides a day.
“We park our bikes at say Datta Mandir chowk at Vimannagar. In that area, most of our customers are students from the Symbiosis colleges. Through the app, they will find the bike at the Datta Mandir chowk. The person cycles to say the Symbiosis college or the Phoenix Mall. This is tracked by GPS and our operations team. In addition to this, we know that the riders’ traffic is high at specific hours of the day at specific places,” he said
“The bikes are initially itself kept there. When a person gets off his ride that is also tracked. Our availability is aided by the fact that we have an idea of people movement via our app. So it is almost certain that you will find the bike where you want it,” Gupta added
Where to find Mobycy in the city:
In Pune, Mobycy is operating in Vimannagar, Kharadi and Chandannagar. They aim to take this service to Koregaon Park and Hadapsar as well.
Cost for the ride:
A ride costs Rs.5 for half an hour. If you take it for longer distances then the rates are Rs.2 extra for every km.
In August last year, the trio set up their company investing Rs.30 lakh of their own funds. “In November we went live, launching at Gurgaon. At that time we were still not very sure if people would use the cycles. We were not well known. There were many such challenges. But we were surprised to find out that people actually used our cycles. All the 40 bikes that we launched at the beginning were being used,” said Gupta
Their experience revealed more information on the user behaviour. They found out that in offices it was not the managers who were open to using cycles, but their juniors.
“The young professionals and students are very open to using this mode of transport. They found it more useful than a car or a bike at times, especially for short distances.Think about it. If you have to commute a two to three km distance in your car how long would it take? Take into account the traffic on the roads, the signals and add to it the parking nuisance. Often you take longer by car than by cycle.” Gupta added
Add to that social media marketing that Mobycy undertook and the app and services were a big hit.
Which is what is happening at Gurgaon Huda railway station where Mobycy parks its cycles. “All 40 bikes get picked up and taken to various offices. More and more people are finding the cycle an easier way to commute short distances compared to their motorbike s and cars,” said Gupta
Weather factor while riding the cycles
What will happen when the heat gets unbearable or the rains pour down? How will people cycle in such weather conditions?
Akash says, “We will have to see what happens. But my hunch is that mornings and evenings the heat is not as bad. So people may still use the cycle. We will have to watch how this plays out.”
Meanwhile, Mobycy has got an angel investor from the USA who has put in $500,000 into the company. Talking on the point Akash says, “We used this money to buy 2,000 bikes that we have deployed in 10 cities. We want to reach to 25 cities. For that, we are going to need more funds. We are in talks with Venture Capital funds and plan to raise $5 Million.”
Mobycy currently clocks in Rs.3 lakh in revenue a month. Seems like their hunch turned out right after all. Despite the comfort of a car or a bike, there are still people willing to use the cycle as it is an easier way to travel short distances. And cheaper too.
Looks can be deceptive. For, while driving a car may seem infinitely easier than cycling, it turns out that people are choosing the cycle for its ease of use. And that is what is driving Mobycy forward.