Mobike and Ofo China were the first in on-demand bicycle services and the rise in that demand is growing. One startup is twisting that concept and bringing dock-less motorbikes to the streets of India.
Us-based startup WheelStreet is pioneering the scooter push in India through a pilot service that has been running in Bangalore for just a little over a month.
WheelStreet Go is the initiative’s name and just like it’s predecessors, it allows users to rent scooters for short-term periods. Clients can pick up and drop off their scooters anywhere. How it works is there is a QR code on every WheelStreet Go scooter. Scan that code into the app and the app will show a generated passcode to use to open the lock on the vehicle. Then, you’re on the go and cruising through the streets of Bangalore. Meanwhile, a dedicated team ensures the bikes are parked away properly and that the vehicles are spread out throughout the area.
WheelStreet works with bike rental shops to use their vehicles for its service, unlike other bike-sharing companies that manufacture their own motorbikes. WheelStreet’s range on offers is somewhat varied and revenue is shared. Each vehicle is given WheelStreet branding and locks and put on its map for users. The startup will explore using its own brand of vehicles in the future, but right now, going through other manufacturers helps keep a ‘bike graveyard’ at bay.
WheelStreet, as a startup, began in 2014 as a one-stop marketplace hat aggregated all bike rentals to make it easy for consumers to find a bike to rent. It wasn’t until this year that it decided to experiment with dock-less bikes in Bangalore, though it continues to offer its marketplace service in 33 cities across India.
The Go service has operated in parts of Bangalore using 50 scooters, so far. All of which are 100cc scooters. The pricing rates work out to less than $1 for two hours of usage, though there is no time limit to how long you may rent the scooters.
WheelStreet CMO and co-founder Moksha Srivastava, said the early tests have been “amazingly beautiful,” with some 28 daily average customers booking two to three times per day.
The plan is to up the capacity to 100 bikes this month, and slowly grow the business which has had no marketing or promotion.
“To date,” she added, “the company hasn’t experienced issues with vandalism which has blighted the launch of bike-sharing services in markets where the on-demand model is new. A GPS chip on the bike disables the engine unless the lock is open.”