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BW Businessworld

Rides High On A Green Turf

This startup has had a roaring success on the new and expanding business of shared two-wheeler mobility

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VOGO AUTOMOTIVE is an online-automated scooter rental service founded by Anand Ayyadurai, B. Padmanabhan and Sanchit Mittal in 2016.

Headquartered in Bengaluru, the scooter sharing startup now has a customer base of over a million riders. Since its inception, Vogo Automotive has intensely focused on technological innovations. The company has optimally leveraged Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) to build industry first solutions. 

Talking of the startup’s phenomenal success since it literally hit the road, Vogo’s Co-founder and CEO Anand Ayyadurai says, “Our team has built a first-of-its-kind IoT-enabled operating system for keyless exchange of scooters. The driving force of the company are our cutting-edge innovations around customer experience via IoT.” Ayyadurai adds Vogo would now patent its products. “In 2020, we have applied for six patents which include an Anti-siphoning device, keyless connected vehicle system, GPS data compression algorithm, key-based lock to key­less conversion mechanism and optimised location and tracking algo­rithm to save battery in a petrol scooter,” he tells us.

Notwithstanding the massive disruption caused by Covid-19, the founders managed to raise a capital round soon after the announce­ment of the lockdown. As a part of Series C, Ramachandran Narayan of Gaja Capital and Exponentially I Mobility LLP invested their trust and capital in Vogo. So far, the company has secured commitments of approximately $150 million in equity and debt and is backed by some marquee investors including LGT Lightstone, Matrix Partners, Stellaris Venture Partners, Kalaari and Ola, India’s largest ride-hailing platform.

Covid Times and Beyond

While the pandemic disrupted industries across sectors, its impact on the automotive sector, especially shared mobility, has been significant. “In the wake of Covid and the mandatory lockdown, we had to tempo­rarily pause our services in both cities – Bangalore and Hyderabad − till Unlock 1.0 was announced in May 2020. However, after resuming our services in May 2020, we received an overwhelming response from both the cities and have bounced back to over 75 per cent of our pre-lockdown levels in Bengaluru and 100 per cent in Hyderabad,” says Ayyadurai. 

“We have witnessed a strong month-on-month recovery post-lockdown and have regis­tered 25 per cent monthly growth in the last three months,” he goes on to say. Vogo Automotive has some key unique advantages in this extremely competitive industry and Ayyadurai is focussed on gain­ing a stronghold in the current urban mobility space. 

The company also aims to create a category in the two-wheeler per­sonal and shared mobility space with an array of product offerings ranging from scootys to electric vehicles, advanced tech infrastruc­ture enabling home delivery, con­tactless commute journey and remote tracking of its scooters. 

Looking Ahead

Sharing his vision about Vogo, Ayyadurai says, “In the next two to three years, people will see a large percentage of the Vogo fleet going electric as the ecosystem matures. As a shared mobility operator, we intend to lead the movement of the country towards electric two-wheelers and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of India.”

There is no doubt that shared two-wheeler mobility makes trans­port affordable and accessible to consumers, and also ensures faster movement on India’s choked roads. In Bangalore alone, scooter rentals can bring down the number of vehicles on the road by up to 75 per cent, which is an indication of the magnitude of impact two-wheeler rental players like Vogo can have by expanding their operations.

In keeping with its commitment to contribute towards a healthy ecosystem, Vogo Automotive is also working towards a sustainable mode of commute in the near future. To accomplish the core of this commitment, the founders intend to go completely electric in a few years.