As the mobility space in Indian ecosystem goes through a similar evolution as the west, Masayoshi Son led SoftBank has its eyes wide open and is planning on keeping up with the opportunity by investing in the new mobility space in the country.
To be specific, this new mobility space here refers to the two-wheeler rental startups. By using the services provided by these startups, customers can pick up a scooter from fixed points around a city and can drop it at another such point when their ride is complete.
These scooters have an inbuilt lock system that is monitored by the application and for safety purposes, these also have remote location tracker and scooter status checker. And enhanced version of the bicycle renting space which had players like Mobycy, PEDDL, etc.
In India, two-wheeler rental space is still in its nascent stage, the opportunity is promising as two-wheelers have a larger usage and hence demand in the cities across the third world country. Especially considering the rise in the EV market for two-wheelers that Indian startups are incorporating in their plans and operations.
Where Ola and Uber clock over 3.5 million rides on a daily basis, scooter rental startups like Vogo and Bounce are yet to scale, with about 1,00,000 rides a day. But that is mostly limited to Bengaluru and the startups are barely 1 year old yet.
While two-wheeler rentals is likely to become the focus in the new mobility space in India, as per a global trend, for SoftBank the future in ride-hailing and mobility space includes all kinds – two and four wheeler – rentals, autonomous driving, and even asset management space.
The firm recently poured in over $300 million two US-based startups – Getaround, a peer-to-peer car rental firm and Fair, a vehicle leasing platform.
In India, the Japanese conglomerate has been in “engagements” with Bounce, Vogo, and Drivezy but not funding talks have started yet, says an ET report.
Where SoftBank has already dominated the investments in ride-hailing space with investments in Ola, Uber, Didi Chuxing, and Grab; the firm is still on assessment stage when it comes to the two-wheeler rental opportunity as the market is infant and the unit economics hasn’t been proven yet.
Even the firms that operate in Bengaluru claim that the model has worked there, but losses are unsustainable yet. For the growth to late-stage investor, these are significant metrics to be looked at before an investment is finalised.
Separately, Bounce and Vogo are out in the market scouting for their next funding rounds. The former looking for about $100-150 million and the latter at $50 million. Given that SoftBank might be interested in the segment, they might have a chance at scoring heftier rounds in the future.