A green drive that began before Swachh Bharat
Irfan Khan could have continued the pursuit of knowledge of alternative medicine, but he decided that cleaning up the environment was a more pressing call. A resident of Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, for a decade, Khan started the eco-friendly startup eBike in 2016.
The firm provides electronic bikes for rentals as well as taxi and delivery services. Khan said: “It was part of my Swachh Dalhousie, which began even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign.”
Initially he raised capital from friends and family. eBike uses the franchiseowned, company-operated model. The pilot project was conducted in Amritsar in 2017. Most of the drivers they employ are recovering drugabuse victims. “Most of them have come out of rehab centres and were looking for employment,” said Khan. “They are paid ~9,000 a month.”
The start-up usually divides a city into clusters. Then, franchises are given for rental, taxi and delivery services. Their ownership continues to be with eBike. A franchise owner can offer all three services and gets 90 per cent of the revenue.
The road ahead
After initial success, the company is now planning on expanding operations to New Delhi, Jaipur and Lucknow. It has also tied up with fooddelivery services like Swiggy and Zomato and e-commerce major Amazon to provide bikes for delivery services.
“Detailed studies are being conducted to ascertain the kind of services to begin operations. In Amritsar, for instance, where the pilot was conducted, it was started with a rental service catering to tourists,” he said.
As part of expansion plans, eBike will scout for venture capital (VC) funding to raise ~2.5-3 billion in the next three to four months.
“After the franchises are successful, we will look for VCs to finance our future endeavours,” Khan added.
On the map
A city on eBike’s map is Kota in Rajasthan. There is a large population of students in the city because of the many educational institutions and coaching centres. There is a potential for starting delivery services there, said Khan.
His firm sources bikes from a Gurugram-based Okinawa. This uses Japanese technology to manufacture electronic bikes. Each bike costs ~75,000-80,000 after ~22,000 discount, from the government as part of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicle in India scheme.