Big Idea

Ride along

Avoid those inevitable traffic snarls by pedalling in the bike lane with Mobycy

Vishal Koul

Being gridlocked in heavy traffic is an everyday scenario in metro cities — be it while taking a cab or a bus. But what if an alternative lets you pedal to office or home, instead? Mobycy’s dockless bicycle-sharing platform makes this a reality. Started in August 2017 by Akash Gupta and Rashi Agarwal, the platform likes to call itself ‘Uber for bicycles’.

“During my visits to a few colleges, I realised that students spent a lot of time commuting within the campus,” says Gupta, who was the vice-president at MobiKwik before starting his own green-tech venture. Later, the founders realised that commuters across in metros also were open to kind of a bicycle-sharing platform to ensure affordable last-mile connectivity.

All you have to do is download the app and create an account by linking one's Aadhar card, voter ID, pan card or driving licence. He can then enjoy the service by paying a fully-refundable security deposit of Rs.199, or Rs.49 for college students. You're charged Rs.10 per hour for a ride. The monthly plan (Rs.199 and Rs.49) allows the user to take two rides a day upto an hour. Users can locate bikes in nearby areas through the app. Each bicycle has its own QR code, and scanning it unlocks the bicycle. 

To ensure the safety of the bicycle, the company has manufactured customised bicycles with GPS and IoT technology. “Using GPS, we can trace bicycles 24/7. There is a solar panel installed on the basket to charge the GPS battery,” explained Gupta. Any form of tampering alerts the Mobycy server. 

The manufacturing cost of each bicycle ranges between Rs.8,000-Rs.10,000 and can run for two to three years without maintenance. Mobycy has 2,000 of its own bicycles placed in Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad, Chandigarh and Jaipur. It plans to place 3, 000 more over the next three months in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru, and have around 25,000 cycles by the end of FY19. Mobycy has completed 35,923 rides so far since it began operations last December.

The initial investment in the venture was Rs.3.5 crore. Out of which, Rs.50 lakh was bootstrapped by the co-founders, and about Rs.3 crore was pumped in by US-based angel investors. In addition to its biking service, the company is working on in-app advertising, on-bike advertisement to promote health brands and selling bicycle- and fitness-related products on its e-commerce portal.

While Ola, Zoomcar, Ofo, Yulu are willing to enter in this market, Gupta thinks that having more players in the market will only help the cause — which is to engage more people in cycling. “The industry is nascent. One player alone cannot change people’s mindset,” says Gupta. According to him, being focused on the bicycle market will only make expansion easier for him. Mobycy is also partnering with the Smart City Mission to promote the bicycle initiative in collaboration with city administrations to develop the infrastructure for cycling in metro cities. If the start-up’s plans work out, there could indeed come a day when one needn’t dread about their mode of transport every time they stepped out of home.