Wheelstreet is a bike rental aggregator platform based out of Bengaluru.
It is commonplace for friends to borrow each other’s bikes, especially during college days. It was something 24-year-old Pranay Shrivastava would experience while he moved to Delhi after completing his graduation in Bhopal. He then decided to rent his bike to his friends to earn some pocket money.
So Pranay decided to start something of his own and looked into the bike rental space. He discussed this idea with his childhood friend, 24-year-old Moksha Srivastava, who worked as reporter at The Times of India, New Delhi and later as a radio jockey at 92.7 FM in Jhansi.
When they looked at the space they realised that it was a highly disorganised market. While there were several players in the space, the demand and supply chain was not synchronised due to lack of service standards, even in the larger cities. This created problems for both vendors and potential users.
India is believed to be one of the largest two-wheeler marketplaces in the world and this comes as no surprise since motorcycles offer a much more affordable and efficient alternative to private cars, taxis and even public transport. This is when they launched Wheelstreet.
It is a bike rental aggregator platform that works with independent vendors enabling them to offer personalised services including differential pricing structures for the same bike, multiple pickup locations, large variety and fleet of the latest bikes, along with real time availability tracking on the platform.
“We are headquartered in Bengaluru and currently operational in around 27 cities including; Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Jaipur and Hyderabad and smaller cities like Srinagar, Nainital and Jaisalmer among others. We have tied up with over 160 vendors in these locations,” says Moksha.
The team had initially set operations in Delhi but later in 2015 they moved to Bengaluru for operational growth. Moksha adds that they always knew that the tourism industry had already activated this concept, but were not able to access their customers due to lack of proper channels.
The numbers and distribution
“In places like Ladakh, Goa and Kerala, vendors were already offering bikes on rent to tourists, but mapping these vendors proved to be a challenge as most of them operated through references. Another challenge is that if you go by references you would not be able to compare the pricing, bike models, etc and ultimately users end up getting cheated and ultimately cancel trips,” says Moksha.
Wheelstreet started initially with a core team of four. Currently, they have a team of 20 people and four core members. Wheelstreet claims to have more than 160 vendors across 27 cities, with 2,500 bikes listed on their platform, 150 of which are superbikes. The team claims to make 3,400 monthly bookings and more than Rs 1 crore in revenues. Moksha adds,
“We track two sections in our business. Daily commute where the average booking size goes up to 6,200 and weekend trips section, which we call WS Explore, which gives us on average bookings of 40,000-50,000. The booking duration here is 14-15 days. Both the segments are different and do really well for us. We get hourly, daily, weekly and monthly bookings in the commute section. Both are high revenue generators for us.”
Wheelstreet has received funding of $500,000 led by Broadbean Capital services. The team collects a 20 percent commission on each booking from the vendors for its backend services.
The growing sharing economy
The sharing economy is on the rise across various sectors. Right from cabs (carpooling and renting) to apparels, and furniture — everything is available on rent. So far the success of IndiaReads, a book rental platform and car rental startup Zoomcar are testimony to the belief that sharing or access economy is a big opportunity in India.
There also is Rentmojo, which rents furniture and bikes, Furlenco rents furniture. There is DRIVEN that focuses on renting out high-end cars. In the bike rental space itself there is Wickedride, iRYD in Bengaluru.
The estimated net-worth of the rental market, according to PwC and EY report will be at a whopping $335 billion by 2025.
Foreign markets show that vehicular rentals will be the first to make it in online rentals. In the US, growth began over a decade ago with CORT and RentTheRunway.
In China too, China Auto Rental (CAR) started in 2007 when self-drive rental market was in its nascent stage. They went IPO in 2014 for $6 billion, and runs 150 lakhs cars today in China. Brazil has Movida, which went from 200 to 40,000 in two years, and Localiza which was founded in late nineties and currently runs lakhs of cars.
“We focus more on the needs of our vendors and how we can ease there process. We have made life easier for the vendors which is in turn helping us in serving the customers better and word of mouth is being spread across. We have 30 percent returning rate,” says Moksha.
While the bookings are made on the website, the vendor app the vendors company can maintain their fleet and do their accounting. It also reminds them when a service is due on the bike with the particular vehicle being shown as unavailable at the time. Vendors can also accept or cancel bookings through the application.
“We have also launched the customer app which is similar to the website. Here bookings happen and one can select a location, and is a lot easier and functional to use,” says Moksha.
The team has also recently launched tours to complement our existing business on the platform. They also have plans to rent out tour accessories such as tent, gears, jackets, etc but as an extension of the two wheeler rental business only.
“We also plan to expand our footprint overseas as there is huge market potential for two wheelers in most South Asian countries,” says Moksha.