Mobility space world over is going through multiple innovations led by technology. Bengaluru-headquartered Yulu, an EV-led micro-mobility platform owned by Yulu Bikes Pvt Ltd, is helping India to carve a niche in this space. Supported by 16,000 eco-friendly vehicles and 2 million users, Yulu has come up with a large scale micromobility business in India. In an interaction with N V Vijayakumar from the NFAPOST, Yulu Cofounder and CEO Amit Gupta explains how the company is supporting to create sustainable cities of tomorrow by disrupting commuting. Excerpts from the interaction.
- Yulu brand has made its impact in the urban centres in India. Can you share your initiatives in brand-building efforts?
In the past 3 years, we have established brand connect with more than 40 stakeholders. Yulu has developed a holistic ecosystem for ride-sharing, by collaborating with OEMs, multiple corporates, co-working spaces, co-living spaces, government authorities, and metro authorities, to provide end-to-end mobility solutions to citizens across locations. Ride-hailing giant – Uber has also partnered with Yulu to build a large scale micro-mobility business in India.
With more than 16,000 eco-friendly vehicles and 2 million users, Yulu runs India’s largest EV-led micro-mobility platform. Yulu’s mission is to create sustainable cities of tomorrow by revolutionising the way people commute through its specially designed human and battery-powered vehicles and technologies like IoT, ML & AI. Yulu runs its operations currently in 6 major Indian cities – Bengaluru, New Delhi, Mumbai, Gurugram, Ahmedabad, Pune and Bhubaneswar. As pioneers in this space, Yulu has influenced several policies for micro-mobility in India by working closing with policy-makers at the city as well as at the national levels.
- You are expanding your presence in India. What kind of challenges are you facing in this expansion journey, primarily because mobility/transportation is very much linked with public transport and highly regulated by the government?
When you start your own venture, challenges come as add-ons. For Yulu, we had to fight several myths and perceptions about the feasibility and efficiency of using share small two-wheelers to make a change in behaviour at scale. However, our unique approach of partnering with large corporates and local municipal corporations of the cities have helped in creating an infrastructure for sustainable mobility. We have also innovated on the solution to reduce theft and vandalism of our vehicles using technology and local relationships.
- Your smart IoT platform which works realtime is bringing customer convenience. What more product evolution happened on the platform?
To operate Yulu, users must install the Yulu app available on the Play Store or App Store. Users must add money/currency in their Yulu Money account using Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe, BHIM UPI, credit card or debit card. Yulu also accepts all international payment modes.
The vehicles available (tracked via GPS) nearby or at any Yulu zones around are displayed on the app. Users are able to search for their destination/location and see the estimated time to reach the designated Yulu zone.
To begin the trip, the user must scan the QR code that’s on the vehicle. Yulu has created virtual docking stations across the city called Yulu Zone. To end the trip, the user must park their Yulu at a zone nearest their destination, upon which the price of the trip will be immediately deducted from the user’s wallet. The platform works on a pay-per-use model, where users get billed @ Rs 1.50 per minute with Rs 5 as the unlock charge. During the ongoing corona crisis, Yulu has also introduced a last santised time stamp on its app for citizens’ safety.
Yulu first launched with Move, a smart lock enabled bicycle that offered people an easy and healthy option for their short distance commutes.
Not long after, the company introduced the Yulu Miracle. A micro, battery-powered vehicle that help users commute longer distances at a maximum speed of 25km per hour. What makes the Miracle even more unique is that the size and speed of the vehicle place it below standard regulations. Letting users ride the scooter without a license and a registration plate, making the accessibility of the vehicle much easier and comfortable.
- Weight – 45kg
- Battery power output – 48V 20 aH
- Time to full charge – 4 hrs
- Range of 60-65 km
- Accommodate users of all heights
- Swappable lithium – ion battery
- Technologically enabled yet weather proof
The Miracle caught on immediately and became extremely popular on the roads as the size of the vehicle gave people their quickest way through traffic. It currently stands as Yulu’s main product and continues to grow exponentially.
Yulu has installed with a proprietary loT charging box called Yulu Max across clusters at the Yulu Zone partners or independent shop owners who offer the space to install. Yulu team pays them for the electricity usage (highest slab of commercial power) as well as nominal fees for space. Every charging station has the capacity to charge 12 batteries. This is a cost-effective and unique battery-swapping network. Yulu Miracle’s are parked at these stations and connected to the charging box where their vehicle is sustainably recharged or swapped with another battery.
With the help of city, corporates and citizens, Yulu Zones have been strategically placed at populated locations across several cities where a user can access and park a Yulu vehicle. These Zones also provide space for Yulu Max Charging stations.
- Can we expect Yulu dockles bike fleet being manufactured in India? If so what are you expecting from the government to make it happen soon?
We operate with a virtual dockless model which is the best for operational efficiency and also does not cause inconvenience to citizens.
5. Micro-mobility and share-mobility spaces are finding more business opportunity. What is the business plan going forward for Yulu to tap this opportunity? Are you looking at more used cases for your bikes by entering an innovative partnership with individuals and institutions?
Yulu has also established a partnership with local city authorities like the BBMP, DULT (Directorate of Urban Land Transport), and the BMRCL Namma Metro, DMRC, MMRDA, CRUT, PMC. etc in various cities. Further, our strategic partnerships with city authorities, public transportation entities and world-class OEM like Bajaj Auto Limited have helped us make urban commute efficient and eco-friendly.
The partnership with DULT was a collaboration of initiatives to bring a change to Bangalore roads by making it a more cycle-friendly city.
In a step towards achieving its goals, Yulu has partnered with a multitude of corporate organisations and co-living spaces. We have joined hands with top-tier and popular co-living spaces such as CoHo, CoLive, Zolo and RentMyStay to make the everyday commute as seamless and hassle-free as possible. To help build an ecosystem that is congruent and sustainable, we have partnered with Intel, HomeLane, and Wipro, creating a win-win situation for all.
6. How you are looking at your partnership with Bajaj and Uber?
Succeeding in the shared micro-mobility business is incumbent upon creating winning partnerships to ensure assured supply of high-quality electric vehicles in large numbers. Bajaj Auto Ltd is the leading automaker of India, and is respected globally for its quality and manufacturing capabilities at scale.
Yulu is the leading electric micro-mobility service provider that requires reliable, durable and comfortable electric vehicles to serve its customers, hence a committed manufacturing partner is crucial to its success. In Bajaj, Yulu finds this strategic partnership and it is a win-win relationship. Yulu’s electric two-wheelers will help Indian commuters with the first and the last mile connectivity option. This partnership aims to solve the mobility challenges of urban India in an eco-friendly manner. Where as, the Uber and Bajaj partnership, is aimed at making urban commute efficient and eco-friendly as it enables users to use the e-bike to ride to a certain traffic congestion point and then take public transport.
7. Currently how many bikes do you have on the platform and what about total ride hours? By the end of this year, will you reach the target of one lakh bikes? Also, share with us the total number of downloads.
We have 10K EVs, in 12 months we expect 5x growth and by end of 3 years, we should be 20-30x times of the current numbers. Yulu plans to expand to a fleet of 100K EVs across 5-7 major cities in India by December 2021. In the long run, Yulu aims to be present in over 100 cities to become the most dominant micro-mobility player in India by using a combination of a company-owned-company-operated, as well as franchise-owned – franchise-operated model. Using the scale of the domestic market and strategic partners, Yulu will also launch its services in more than ten countries outside India by forming JVs.
8. Can we expect more models from you? The current one doesn’t have shock absorber in the back.
We’re glad to know this! Our New model of Miracle comes with shock absorbers and a bag holder. We are also working on other variants with high speed.
9. Can you share a bit on your financials. Have you achieved beak-even, if so when and what are the measures taken to reduce cost?
We have taken various measures to improve operational efficiency and excellence thereby controlling the costs. We are operationally profitable on Miracle. We invest our resources in technology, research and development to bring the overall goodness and enable citizens with reliable and affordable mobility options.
10. What about funds? Going forward what is your game plan in this regard? How well the partnership will fit into the scheme of things here?
So far, we have raised $20 million from our key investors like Bajaj Auto Limited, Rocketship.VC and Blume Ventures, among others.
11. You have competitors in the market…….Zoom, Vogo, Bounce, Ola Bike…..Any comments on this?
Yes, we have competitors. We are different from them since we provide scalable, affordable and green solution for first and last mile and short distance commute. We are focusing to create sustainable mobility for urban India with our lithium battery powered scooter. Yulu’s electric vehicles are environmentally better and cheaper. We want to find solution for traffic congestion and air quality around the cities.
12. How do you evaluate yourself as an entrepreneur in mobility space?
Entrepreneurship has been my passion always. My journey started with Inmobi, the unicorn startup of India in the field of technology. Once it was established and built, I decided to follow my dream. My dream is to give back to society. Air pollution and traffic congestion are major problem and that’s what I want to solve and bring a change in the society. Yulu was born keeping this intention in my mind. My whole Yulu family is very proud to let you know that we are the leading micro-mobility service provider in India. We are here to make a change to the society with our green initiative.