Ride-hailing platform Ola announced Pedal, a bike sharing service on Monday, which captured the headlines across the media platforms. Similarly, Zoomcar’s bike sharing service Pedl was also made in the news, when the self-drive car rental platform launched the service around a month ago.
Far from the media limelight, Raj Chauhan and Vansh Taneja were also working on the similar idea since December last year.
In June 2017, with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh that was spent mainly on technology, acquiring IoT locks and bicycles, the team of two launched LetzCycle, a dockless bike rental service platform.
The Delhi-based platform became operational in October and has been offering services in two colleges in Delhi-NCR — Inderprastha Engineering college, Ghaziabad and IIIT-D, Okhla.
“It is an affordable means of shared transportation and the ultimate solution for last mile commute in urban India,” said Raj Chauhan, CEO and Co-founder, Letzcycle.in.
He added that the service can be accessed in three easy steps — scan the QR code, unlock the cycle and park in any public place.
The platform has an inventory of around 30 bicycles, which are operational in two colleges, and is planning to add more than 1000 bicycles across various national level institutes. It claims to have completed 500 rides in a month’s time. It charges Rs 10 for half an hour of riding.
But, what’s unique about it?
“There are many platforms in China which work on a similar idea, but it is surely new in India. We will be the pioneer in the dockless bicycle sharing model,” said Chauhan.
He added that dock-based bike sharing model does exist in India such as Chartered Bikes in Bhopal and Mytrintrin in Mysore. “However, Letzcycle is completely different from such dock-based companies. We have GPS and IoT-enabled bicycles which can be rented from the app from any location and the users do not have to locate a docking station to deposit the bicycle back.”
Taking on challenges with technology
You guessed right! Theft is the biggest challenge the company faces; and thus, it is solving the issue via technology.
“The biggest challenge is fleet management — ensuring that bikes are not stolen or vandalized. We plan to create technology-enabled solutions like creating a credit rating system for riders to incentivise users to keep the cycles in good conditions,” said Chauhan.
Besides, there is an issue of infrastructure, which Chauhan feels will develop at its own pace.
What the market is like…
Zoomcar has rolled out app-based cycle renting platform starting with 500 bicycles across three cities – Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata.
Ola is piloting Ola Pedal in IIT Kanpur, through which students will be able to rent cycles, just as they’d book a cab. Ola has made around 600 cycles available at spots around the campus which can be booked through its app.
Reportedly, Alibaba backed Chinese bicycle renting startup Ofo which has raised about USD 1.3 billion is also planning to venture into India market as soon as in the first half of 2018. However, social media updates by its executive suggested that Ofo’s first port of call in India will be Chennai.
The growth of bike sharing concept is the part of the rental economy, which is set to grow manifold in the coming years. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the sharing economy will generate potential revenue of $335 billion by 2025 globally.
Industry experts say that it is imperative that such concepts of bike sharing are tested in the Indian market which will open new avenues in the rental space and led the sharing economy to grow further.
Amidst the growing market, Chauhan said, “The growth opportunity is vast , bike sharing is an untapped market in India . Yes, we will expand to at least 500 universities across India till the end of this financial year.”