Personal Mobility Is Making Huge Inroads Into The Two-wheeler Industry: Anand Ayyadurai, VOGO
In an exclusive interaction with BW Disrupt, Anand Ayyadurai, Co-founder and CEO, VOGO, talks about the company and more.
Brief us about your business model like how did the idea came to start and how does it work (step by step procedure)?
The story behind Vogo:
The idea for Vogo came from the challenges that the founders faced every day in finding an easy mode of daily transport. When Anand first moved to Bangalore, he tried to car-pool, use an auto, etc. for his daily commute but, grew increasingly frustrated with these unreliable options and bought his own motorcycle. The other co-founders had similar experiences. All of them believed there is a need to bring a fundamental change in how people commute. It either took too much time, charges were steep, or was inconvenient. Often, it was all of these factors making daily commute a cumbersome experience and therefore thought to make everyday transportation simpler.
And the result was – Vogo, an easy, affordable and reliable commute option.
The company first launched with one scooter at a large college fest and found people lining up and asking for more scooters. The founders, who were also the only employees of the company, quickly added 18 more scooters the next week and saw strong traction. The incident not only gave them the conviction to double down but also encouraged them to set off on this crazy growth journey.
Vogo’s current setup:
At present, Vogo is India's largest personal mobility company and is currently focusing on growing further to realize its vision of democratizing access to personal transport in India.
With its prime focus on guaranteeing scooter availability to customers whenever they want or need while providing the best possible ride experience, Vogo is offering a solution for the daily commute - a point-to-point service. The approach has allowed Vogo to do a few things
Guarantee customers availability of scooters at the same station every day
Ensure that we are able to keep our vehicles fuelled and well-maintained
Ensure reliable commute options to consumers.
The company has seen the validation of this model in the incredible 80%+ customer repeat rate.
What are the unique key points of your company? How are you different from the existing competitors?
Vogo is addressing the large urban commute challenges in India. They endeavour to make daily commute affordable and hassle-free for customers for any kind of trip - be it first-last mile connectivity to public transport, short trips in the neighborhood or daily office travel. And with the ongoing pandemic and change in the preference of people where they are looking for contactless and personal mobility solutions, Vogo has provided them with an opportunity to own a vehicle without buying it.
Some of the unique key points that make them different from other industry players are listed below:
Home-drop bike delivery service - To ensure the safety of its customers, the company is offering a home drop bike delivery service. The idea is to help those, who are unable to come to pick up bikes from the docking stations, by delivering sanitized bikes to their home.
Vogo Keep and 4-step sanitization process – Vogo Keep offers long term rentals where people can rent scooters for a longer duration, from a day to 2 months. This ensures that they are not sharing their scooter with anyone else. The company is also distributing sanitization kits to their customers which includes hand sanitizer, gloves, solutions to sanitize the bike, and a cleaning cloth. To ensures that customers get fully sanitized vehicles, Vogo ensures that a live sanitization check is done in front of its customers.
Technology Innovation & Focus – From the very early days, the company has invested heavily in building IoT (Internet of Things) technology for its scooters. This serves a twin purpose - makes the entire booking process automated enabling faster scale and allows them to remotely monitor and control the scooter, thereby ensuring the security of the asset. Recently, VOGO has launched India’s first 1-click booking experience for scooters where riders can connect his phone to Vogo scooters via Bluetooth and directly start and stop the scooter from the app. There is no manual interaction with the scooter anymore.
Demand Supply matching - This business requires you to build a network of pickup points that are within 200 meters of any customer anywhere. This is a very large data play where VOGO has built multiple algorithms that helps them understand customer data and routes helps them maximize the number of rides per vehicle and become more relevant for customers.
What are the funding status and monetization model?
VOGO has received commitments of approximately $150 mn in Equity and Debt and is backed by some of the marquee investors including LGT Lightstone, Matrix Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners, Kalaari, and Ola, India’s largest ride-hailing platform.
VOGO provides point to point affordable mobility solutions to commuters and charges them on per ride basis.
What challenges are you facing in running your business? What has been the biggest learnings so far?
For Anand, the Vogo journey has been about testing his limits both personally and professionally. Prior to Vogo, he has helped some of the renowned ventures in their growth. For him, building the foundation of Vogo was a thrilling journey and every step has been new learning including the fact that companies aren’t built in months or a year, but it’s an ongoing process.
One of the key parts of his journey has been ensuring that they stay true to their vision which is to build a large scooter sharing network that made daily commute simpler. No matter what, Anand always believed in making hard decisions that were right for the company in the long term but painful in the short term. He realized that instead of scaling the business to lakhs of scooters, it is important to invest in building the right hardware/IoT for scooters and automating the entire scooter booking process. For him, it was tough to put the brakes on the expansion plans but investing in IoT early has put Vogo in good stead now.
While so many challenges faced over the years, Anand feels that he has become much more resilient now. There have been many high-pressure situations when he was close to running out of cash but always managed to find a way to keep things afloat. His belief in his mission really helped him power through this and do everything it took - be it dipping into personal resources or leveraging friends and family to raise a bridge round.
How has been the people`s response so far?
Personal mobility is making huge inroads into the two-wheeler industry, and this is not just limited to the metros, even tier 2 cities have taken to shared two-wheeler services in a big way because the cost structure fits right with the Indian market. There is no additional cost of a driver or a rider, and customers don’t have to depend on another person to go places. For an average Indian, saving time and money while having access to a reliable mode of transport is critical – therefore, shared scooter service is the best solution to India’s mobility needs.
Even before lockdown, Vogo was registering 45,000 per day with our 14000+ two-wheelers. Post resumption of the services in late May 2020, the company is again witnessing a surge in consumers’ interest in renting two-wheelers and renewal of subscriptions for longer periods. In the initial seven days of service resumption, 50% of VOGO’s customers had booked for renewal and 30% of them have ordered for delivery to home. They have also recorded an increase in their transaction volumes which are over 40% of the pre-lockdown volumes.
What are the traction details (like users, app downloads and other achievements of the company)?
Vogo has over 14,000+ bikes and 500+ docking stations with its presence in Bangalore and Hyderabad. As mentioned earlier, further to service resumption, the business is recovering rapidly and has also reached to 40% of the pre-lockdown volumes.
As of March 2020, Vogo had clocked 2.5 million users across India with 1million+ app downloads on play store and on iOS. VOGO’s scooters have covered over 13 crore kilometres so far. The company intends to grow with 10-15X on pre-COVID rides per day in the next 18 months.
How do you look at expansion?
In the next 2-3 years, people will see a large percentage of the Vogo fleet going electric as the ecosystem matures. As a shared mobility operator, the company intends to lead the movement of the country towards electric 2 wheelers and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of India.
On another front, one should see a VOGO vehicle at every corner of every city in India soon. Whether it is a college student, an employee, or a senior citizen, our mission is to make personal mobility accessible and affordable to all.
What are your marketing plans?
In line with our objectives to build India’s largest personal rental mobility brand, we are charting out plans to invest money in more innovative and new-age marketing solutions. Largely focused on digital mediums, considering our target audience, but not limited to it. Key to attaining maximum impact will be crafting crisp, relevant, value-driven messaging & driving it to the consumer with holistic 360-degree campaigns engaging all channels.
What is the market size and opportunity?
As per a Morgan Stanley report, India is expected to be a leader in shared mobility by 2030 as the rising share of electric and autonomous vehicles will improve shared mile economics. While the two-wheeler shared mobility market in India has the potential of 15 million daily trips. It is quite evident that India has the capacity to create an enormous network for transportation with millions of commuters utilizing public transport, on-demand services and personal mobility.
Keeping the ongoing pandemic in mind, the commuters are seeking for one mode of transport which embeds all the factors – affordable, convenient and safe. Contemplating the opportunity, Vogo is providing the best possible solution to all the problems.
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