Mobility in India has come a long way since Blume’s maiden investments in ride-hailing aggregator TaxiForSure and intracity logistics provider Roadrunnr (later Runnr). The former was acquired by Ola in 2015 and the latter now functions as the core food-delivery arm of Zomato. Mohit Kumar, co-founder ‘Runnr’ and now heading delivery for Zomato, moderated a fascinating panel comprising Kabeer Biswas of Dunzo, Sriram Kannan at Routematic, Kapil Raizada at Railyatri and Amit Gupta of Yulu. All of them Blume portfolio companies, addressing the challenges and needs of moving Indians within and between cities.
Mohit kicked off the panel by speaking about the shift in priorities that the mobility segment has witnessed in recent times. In Metros, the mantra of all-out aggressive expansion has been replaced by one around economic sustainability. Growth is now expected to be fuelled from the aspirational needs of Tier 2 & 3 cities of India. “Our (Zomato) smallest town presence today is Tuni, Andhra Pradesh with a population of 53,425 people”, said Mohit, stating that “earning realization of the riders in Tier 2&3 is not so attractive; but consumer demand is driving our expansion.”
Micro-mobility and sustainability emerged as key themes, highlighted by our panellists. According to Amit Gupta, co-founder of Yulu – an electric bike rental service- “2/3rds of all trips in any city are under 5 kms. We want to enable this in an environmentally sustainable manner through our new Miracle electric bike offering.” Dunzo uses a similar approach. Kabeer, Dunzo’s founder, stressed on the need to invest in smart cities and bring all the stakeholders to the table. “Currently, who do you speak to about urban planning?”, Kabeer questioned, trying to highlight the disconnect between solutions offered by startups and long term infrastructure projects planned by government bodies.
The same seems to apply to office commute too. Sriram, founder of Routematic – an employee transportation management startup, mourned how crumbling infrastructure has “chocked” peak hour travel in cities like Pune where Routematic currently manages 60,000 optimised trips per day. Kapil of RailYatri reaffirmed that moving forward, startups face a balancing act between capital efficiency and quality standardization. “The segment is moving from value for money to money for value”, he said, where consumers are willing to pay for a better experience.