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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bike rental startups ride into limelight


RoadPanda

When Chandu Harshvardhan, 21, a BTech from Hyderabad, arrived in Bengaluru for his IAS exam, he had no trouble getting around the city. All he did was rent a scooter from a bike rental startup. It was waiting at the railway station when his train reached Bengaluru. "RoadPanda was suggested to me by Trip Advisor. I used the Activa to go around the city.

After four days, they came and collected it from the station," he says. RoadPanda, started by exHoneywell employees Abhishek Nair and Vijay Meena, started its operations in July.Its target customers are mainly visitors who need a two-wheeler.

It was their troublesome experience with local trains in Mumbai that got them into this business. "In 2013, when I visited Mumbai, travelling was a huge problem. I had to take the local train there. It was quite difficult not having my own vehicle," says Nair.

RoadPanda has a fleet size of five: three motorbikes and two Scootys. Customers need to pay a deposit of Rs 2,000 plus the equivalent for the number of hours they intend to use the bike. In Harshvardhan's case, it was just Rs 1,000.

Low price points, easy accessibility and availability of two-wheelers - from a Honda Activa to a Hayabusa - are making customers look towards rental startups for travel solutions when visiting metros.

WheelStreet is a marketplace for motorcycle rentals.Started in 2014 in New Delhi by Moksha Srivastava and Pranay Shrivastava, it shifted to Bengaluru in January . During his college days, Pranay was renting out his bike to his friends for money . Moksha, on the other hand, faced a disappointing experience when she rented a Scooty from a Delhi vendor

These school friends from Jhansi teamed up to create a platform where anybody could rent verified two-wheelers online from reliable vendors. With 15 vendors on board and a fleet size of 250 vehicles each, WheelStreet plans to start its Bengaluru operations from next month. For a 100cc vehicle, WheelStreet charges an average of Rs 400500 a day , while a Hayabusa goes for Rs 10,000 a day.

And it's not just the city kids giving these startups a chance. Venkatesan Ravi, 51, who works as a maintenance manager at Armstrong Pump Manufacturers, had dreamed of owning a Royal Enfield since he was 14. However, he could never afford to buy one.In August, his 23-year old son, Ganapati Subramanium decided to make his dream come true, temporarily .

He rented a Royal Enfield from a startup called Royal Brothers. "My father had tears in his eyes when he saw the bike. He was in seventh heaven! We rented the bike for two days and went from Bengaluru to our home town Salem. He wouldn't even let me ride it," said Subramanium with a laugh.

Abhishek Chandrashekhar had rejected an MBA offer from Cardiff University to start Royal Brothers, along with his RV College Prof Manunath TN in April. With 25 pickup locations across Bengaluru, a user can book any vehicle after registering his driver licence and Aadhaar number. A minimum deposit of Rs 2000 has to be paid online.

The minimum price starts from Rs 30 hour for an Electra and can go up to Rs 50 per hour for a Continental GT. Another luxury bike rental platform, WickedRide, has seen an interesting trend. Vivekanada HR, co-founder of WickedRide, says more women riders are becoming interested in renting luxury vehicles. A 500cc Enfield can be rented out on a per-day basis starting from Rs 2,200 and can go up to Rs 15,000 for a Night Rod Harley Davidson.

But starting a two-wheeler rental startup in Karnataka isn't easy . Chandrashekhar says although the Centre had passed a bill in 1997 allowing bike rentals, it wasn't official in Karnataka until recently ."None of the companies were authorized to rent out bikes.We were the first ones in South India to get the licence," he claims.

According to Vivekanda of WickedRide, which operates in Gujarat and Rajasthan too, Karnataka was one of the toughest to get a licence."We had to bring awareness about the licence to specific departments in the government. It took quite some time," he adds.

"Everyone likes to ride luxury bikes. We see a majority of the IT crowd coming in.There was one couple who came all the way from Delhi just to ride a Harley," says Vivekananda of WickedRide.


Source: ETAuto
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Item Reviewed: Bike rental startups ride into limelight Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sheldon Dcruz
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