Abid Hussain Barlaskar

Bounce adds a fresh twist to the domain of Uber Moto, Ola Bike and Rapido

The startup aims to address last mile connectivity woes and has set aside Rs 200 crore for marketing.

Urban mobility as a business might not be the Ola-Uber duopoly anymore. Apart from ride hailing platform Rapido, another startup Bounce is approaching city commuters with a fresh proposition. The brand offers dockless scooter sharing services and has initiated operations in Bengaluru and more recently, in Hyderabad. The platform's latest campaign 'That's the way to move' has been crafted by marketing consultancy Spring Marketing Capital and is aimed at boosting brand recall, habit building and instilling consumer etiquette. A single vehicle exchanges four hands in the ad across four different use cases.

Users connect to the Bounce network and vehicles via an app. After registering and logging in, a customer can find the keyless scooters (Bounce's patented tech) parked at walkable distances via GPS. They can walk to the nearest scooter, enter the OTP on a padlock-like device installed on the vehicle, wear the helmet stored in the trunk and ride on. Users can drop the vehicle off anywhere, provided it is a public parking area. Riders can also pause rides via the vehicle interface.

The brand aims for a wide target audience, that is, everyone who can legally ride a two wheeler. Apart from the promise of convenience, the brand also pitches for pocket friendliness, lesser vehicles on the street and a smaller environmental footprint compared to cars.

Bounce was founded in 2014 as WickedRide Adventure Services, a platform for renting premium bikes like Harley Davidson and Kawasaki Ninja. With Bounce, the company later shifted to addressing a problem – the broken last mile connectivity in India. The new Bounce started operations in Bengaluru in 2018, with the purpose of decongesting city roads, encouraging usage of public transport and providing seamless first and last-mile connectivity. The brand also operates on a 'docked scooter sharing' or 'hub-to-hub' model and has a presence in seven cities. Reports suggest that after the recent Series D round of funding, the company is valued at a little over USD 500 million.

The dockless scooters are available only in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. The company’s fleet today comprises more than 20,000 scooters. It is heavily based on IoT and each vehicle has around 50 sensors to figure out various issues like battery, fuel, engine condition, location, etc.

Claims are, Bounce has already completed over 20 million trips and clocked over 100 million km. In Bengaluru alone, Bounce bikes cover 1,20,000 rides daily. The brand has also partnered with several public transport authorities to enable seamless commute in cities. 42 per cent of rides either start or end at metro stations.

While the brand seems to be on a collision course with the two-wheeler offerings from other mobility brands like Uber (Uber Moto), Ola (Ola Bike) and Rapido, it is gunning for all probable vehicle customers.

Bounce facts and figures from 2019:

  • The brand served 1.3 million riders, 13 million rides

  • Customers rode for 56 million km with 1.1 lakh rides per day

  • Most customers rode to work and public transport stations with 54,60,000 rides starting and ending at public transport hubs

  • Riders walked 5.4 million km to reach bikes

  • User with the highest number of rides made 2,339 trips

"Owning vehicles and hailing cabs is restricted to a limited number of people in India. We realised that people know how to ride a bike in the country. If we eliminate additional costs and come up with a value proposition which is compelling for users, reduces congestion and is environment friendly, it could be a good long term solution," says Shan MS, senior vice president, Business, Bounce.

Shan MS
Shan MS

"Today, private vehicles are used less than 1.5 times a day, while our vehicles are used 10 times a day on an average," he adds.

Shan accepts that along with the new nature of the service, it also demands a significant amount of consumer education and behaviour change. "We've over-indexed on communication on the apps, on social media and other channels of digital communication. We have also conducted awareness campaigns about the dos and don'ts around issues like - how to deal with the helmet, parking in valid parking areas, how to treat the vehicles and riding disciplines. Apart from the nurturing, we also have a penalty system for issues like parking incorrectly, misusing vehicles, etc. It could either be monetary penalty or blocking a user," he elaborates.

Speaking on the multiple use cases defined in the campaign, he says, "These use cases actually have a lot of potential but consumers might not be considering them immediately."

Shan hints that work on a monthly membership or loyalty programme could already be under way. While the brand is digital heavy, plans are in motion to launch an ATL campaign in the upcoming quarter. The team also resorts to activations and hyper local marketing from time to time and has set aside Rs 200 crore for marketing.

Expert take:

K Vaitheeswaran, e-commerce consultant who also recently co-founded 'Again', a dairy-based drink

K Vaitheeswaran, e-commerce consultant and founder of Again Drinks and Indiaplaza
K Vaitheeswaran, e-commerce consultant and founder of Again Drinks and Indiaplaza

The proposition is quite sharp - convenient and fast urban mobility that doesn't depend upon public transport. The situations are also diverse. The only issue I have is that the ad is trying to talk to everyone - the young office goer, the middle aged shopper, the elderly couple and there's a young kid also thrown in. That is not a good idea. Even if the proposition appeals to diverse people across age groups, the ad must target the best target group for sharper appeal and effect.