Scooting away from a pain point

Scooting away from a pain point

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Anand Ayyadurai

The daily commute in our cities is usually a painful experience, especially if one does not own a vehicle. The public transportation system is often not fully functional and ride-hailing platforms go for a toss in inclement weather, which leaves this space open for disruption. Nearly two years ago, when Anand Ayyadurai, an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and his friends, Padmanabhan Balakrishnan and Sanchit Mittal wanted to start something on their own and were looking at pain points to resolve, they began to look at solutions to solve this issue. It was these discussions that led to the launch of the dockless scooter sharing platform Vogo in 2016. 

In the past three years, the platform has clocked more than 7 million rides, has more than 15,000 scooters, 600 hubs and claims to have more than 65% repeat users. It is operational in three cities and plans to expand to more cities soon.

Vogo had received seed funding by the Murugappa Group, Formula One racer Karan Chandhok, AV Thomas Group, Thiagaraja Group and others in 2017. It has also received an infusion of about $100 million as part of a strategic partnership with ride-sharing platform Ola and is backed by a range of marquee investors including Kalaari Capital, Matrix Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners and Pawan Munjal of Hero Motocorp.

Anand says, “We felt that there is a huge demand for solutions to make the commute simple and safe. We decided to begin a scooter rental service, since it is safe, easy to ride and can be used for multiple use cases, from getting vegetables from the grocer down the road to travelling more than 20 kilometres as part of the daily commute.”

What do they do?

Vogo offers on-demand IoT-enabled scooters. Customers can pick up and drop it at any Vogo hub within the city. Anand explains, “ It is very simple. All you have to do as a customer is to walk to a hub located across the city, scan the QR code of the scooter that unlocks the vehicle at the click of a button.” The user then can travel to the location and drop off the scooter at a nearby hub. Charges are applicable on the kilometres travelled and the time taken, much like hailing an auto-rickshaw or a cab. 

Anand says that users do not merely use the scooters for reaching major commute points. “They use it for a lot of things, from getting to nearby locations quickly, to clubbing it with public transport options. We have regulars who use our scooters to travel more than 30 kilometres on a daily basis. It is used for commutes ranging from 20 minutes to more than 2 hours.”

The company is presently in three cities across the country -- Bengaluru, Mysuru and Hyderabad, with 70% of their business in Bengaluru. Within the city, the focus is presently on the IT corridor in areas such as Marathalli, BTM Layout, Koramangala and HSR Layout.

Micromobility on rise

Over the past couple of years, micromobility has seen a lot of interest from customers and investors. Ayyadurai says, “Our cities are very congested and face plenty of traffic snarls. Since most commute options in Indian cities are in the micro-mobility space, i.e. under 10 kilometres, scooter sharing is an affordable alternative.

Customers are always on the lookout for innovation in this space that helps resolve a major pain point.

Revenue and more 

On the revenue side, the platform has grown tremendously in the past year and a half, Ayyadurai says. “ We have an annual run rate of about Rs 100 crores presently and plan to touch the Rs 1,000 crore mark soon. We also plan to expand to more cities and expand our presence in existing markets.”

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