We are publishing an interview of Mr. Pratyush Kumar Giri, Chief Marketing Officer, Wheels On Roll.
Please tell us about the founders
We are four co-founders:
- Amartya Gupta – Chief Operations Officer
— Has held positions as organizer of college events.
— Has completed five content writing internships in various startups.
- Jeshventh TK Raja – Chief Technical Officer
— Executive member of IEEE-NITK.
— Won various technical competitions.
- Piyush Naveen Bansal – Chief Financial Officer
— Held the position of treasurer.
— Holds various trading and marketing experience.
- Pratyush Kumar Giri – Chief Marketing Officer
— Completed seven marketing internships.
— Held several positions as organizer of college events.
By virtue of being wing mates we used to many times hangout together. One fine day all of us were sitting in my (Pratyush’s) room and we were cribbing about how difficult is to move around the campus in such heat. Walking around was the last thing we wanted to do. That particular year there was a sudden increase in amount of cycles in the campus, as a vendor had setup a stall in the beginning of the year. But there were many who wanted to have a cycle and didn’t buy it just because, for such a brief time nobody wanted to increase their asset. We four were in the same category, but we thought instead of just cribbing about it why not start it. We immediately anonymously rolled out a google form asking who want such a service where they can rent a cycle and within a weekend there were 100+ responses. Since that day we have been working towards the idea to make commuting more meaningful for the students.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Students living in a campus face lack of affordable and easy-to-use, commuting options. As their stay is brief they don’t want to stay asset-heavy by buying a cycle.
We ourselves faced this issue of lack of efficient and comfortable commuting options. After this we conducted a lot of surveys and personally asked people about their opinions on this. After receiving their feedback we realized that a lot of people felt the same and wanted something like our solution to ease their college lives. This gave us the understanding that this was a problem big enough to solve.
What is the uniqueness about your Startup?
- Our startup’s unique selling proposition is being campus-centric and our customer friendly flexible pay-to-ride schemes.
- For additional accountability and security we have kept our focus on campuses which includes educational, residential and corporate parks. Our flexible rates will allow us to capture every whim of the user. This will enable us to build a rapport with their changing needs.
- We want to give a partial ownership of the cycles to the users. Our aim is to not hinder the cycling experience of the users in any way. Instead we want to build a cycling community to foster the cycling spirit inside campuses.
What is the revenue model? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
We generate revenue through four ways:
- First of all, we will have a flexible and customized pay-to-ride renting scheme. There will be different rates for renting on weekdays and weekends with the option of pre-booking.
- Secondly, we will be providing maintenance to the cycle users not under the WOR services through our own mechanic.
- Thirdly, we will use advertisements on the cycles to complement our revenue streams.
- Lastly, we will use machine learning algorithms and big data solutions to find the hottest routes and travel hubs. We will then be able to use this information to add on to our revenues. Our customer acquisition cost is at Rs. 8
Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them?
To start with, we are targeting the campus residents, particularly the students by contributing towards making their lifestyle more comfortable and efficient. At the same time we want to contribute towards a more sustainable model for the society.
What is the big picture of your startup? Will it lead to something bigger? If so, how?
We look forward to weave a culture of public commutation in to the people’s life. In simple words we aim to make the world shift from ownership model to sharing model in the domain of travelling. We wish to thrive for making the peripheral aspects which help us lead a life, more meaningful and resourceful.
What is the success story of your startup in your own words?
The idea had very humble beginnings. It all just started with a discussion among four friends facing a common issue. There was a spark within us that brought us together, even though we were not very well connected. It was the beginning of something very raw and uncut. At that time we did not have any particular idea about how we were going to execute it but the spark was there to solve the issue.
When we look back at the work that we did in the first two weeks, it seems quite unbelievable. We had the name and logo sorted out in the first two days. We spent hours figuring out a revenue model that we thought would suit us(We were so wrong!). In fact in just a week we sent out Google forms to validate whether we had actually understood the issue of everyone! We received a tremendous response from everyone who filled the forms. Without a lot of thinking we bought 10 cycles with our money and immediately leased them out for a year. In fact we even went to Bangalore to seek investment from another startup called Royal Brothers with similar interests as us. I remember the amount of preparation that we had for that one pitch. We asked other startups for their B plan and modeled ours on that line. It was one of the most happiest times that we had as a team and learnt a lot from that. For those who are wondering we got royally thrashed in that presentation. We managed to gain mentor ship and a lot of new ideas and inputs to make a better versions of us.
We came back with a new zeal to do better. We further brainstormed our ideas and tried to sharpen it into something clear-cut. At the same time we were receiving a lot of support from the college administration when we pitched them our idea. During this time we also managed to impress our college board chairman who happened to be the IBM Director of .
In doing so we got mentor-ship and a year of free Bluemix servers to use. This was a major development for us. And we feel the reason we have continued to push ourselves is because of the tremendous support we received from everyone around.
Slowly we raised our tech team and built our prototype to support our ideas. Meanwhile we also managed to qualify the quarter final of TI Innovation challenge. We learnt a lot in that process.
We also had our pilot run that helped us in this continuous process of learning.
Thanks Pratyush. Best of luck!