Having raised over $12 million in Series A funding from Sequoia & Accel, Bounce is up for the ride…
Nishchay’s story has all the vital components of an action-packed Hollywood movie; complete with fast bikes, government officials and thieves. The story starts off with Nishchay and a couple of his friends starting a premium motorcycle renting platform called Wicked Ride.
They wanted to make premium bikes like Harley Davidson and Kawasaki Ninja accessible to the ordinary man.
With minimum rental fees and no deposit, this business took off in no time. There was a lot of excitement in the market with customers sharing photographs on social media and an organic virality started getting built around the bikes.
Soon they started receiving requests for regular bikes for city commute. That’s when MetroBikes – the first keyless, completely automated bike provider also known as Bounce, was formed.
Overcoming the Initial Challenges
In the initial days, as there was no money to purchase the actual bikes, the founders approached their friends who owned luxury bikes and were paying hefty EMIs for them. They pitched an idea where they would borrow the bikes and pay them the amount they got as rent.
Luckily for all involved, the money came back in full, and it turned out to be highly beneficial for the friends, as they were able to clear off their bike loans well in advance.
Once the idea was validated, the team had to find a way to grow their inventory. And by approaching HNIs, banks and other financial institutes, their fleet has grown to over 6000 scooters across 17 cities today.
The other big roadblock Nishchay and his co-founders faced was when they found out about a 1987 government rule that made state permits mandatory for renting bikes.
Many government officials were not even aware of this law. Not losing faith they approached the officials and were surprised to receive full support from them. Not only were they very supportive and knowledgeable, but contrary to popular notion, no one asked for a bribe.
Nishchay clearly recalls an incident—
“When we approached the Rajasthan Officials, they listened to us for 15 minutes and told us they will get it done. Of course we had no hope and left dejected. But within 7 days the permits were couriered to our Bangalore office.”
Moving towards Growth
To get their first set of customers, Nishchay and the team came up with an SEO strategy to rank in the top search results for the keywords they were targeting.
They used free tools readily available online to optimise their site, rather than creating hundreds of pages of content.
Also, strategic partnerships in the early days proved fruitful which they replicated across multiple cities.
They approached Bangalore Metro and encouraged them to partner in order to offer metro riders a safer and cost-effective first mile and last mile solution.
They also partnered with several corporates, hotels and coworking spaces; like Treebo, Cisco, RMZ Ecospace which created soft gates for them. They also conducted bike safety workshops in companies in order to spread the word.
One of their big wins was when they received the biggest round of Series A funding from Sequoia along with government support. The secret Nishchay says is in
“Find out what their priorities are, and where your solution lies is their list of priorities.”
Also, Nishchay and his team were relentless when it came to finding the right tech solutions for their product.
On finding out that the GPS sensors they needed would cost 1000 dollars each, they went ahead and created one of their own, the manufacturing cost of which turned out to be less than Rs 300.
Today, all the hardware and sensors for the bikes are completely designed and manufactured in-house. They know exactly what is happening to the bike at all times.
Even when customers go rogue. Nishchay explains –
“We had a guy who left the bike on the middle of the flyover and walked away. Luckily for us another loyal customer saw it, booked a ride there and then and parked it in the closest legal parking lot.”
A Well-connected Future
Unlike other countries, in India, cities are continuously expanding and it’s difficult for public transport to reach every nook and corner. And with bikes being a convenient & popular mode of transport, Metro Rides or Bounce will be enabling just what the users want.
Started 4 years ago, the company is already operationally positive and their focus will now be to scale, perfect the solution and improve the user experience.
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