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Interview – Moksha Srivastava, Co-founder & CMO, Wheelstreet

Moksha Srivastava in an interview with Suman Prasad spoke in length about the idea of starting Wheelstreet, why they chose Bangalore as their second market, how one can book bikes through Wheelstreet, expansion plans and many other interesting things. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Q. How did you come across the idea of starting Wheelstreet?

Pranay and I both had some experiences that led to the birth of this idea. Pranay who was at that time studying his engineering, used to rent out his motorcycle to his friends who were always looking for some mode or the other for transport. Soon he realized that this was quite a lucrative market for making that little extra buck as pocket money.

On the other hand I was in Delhi and was a regular customer at one of the many rental vendors you find in Delhi. I for three years continued to have the same harrowing experience. Fed up with the way things work in this sector, I was ranting about this to Mritunjay and Pranay (both co-founders) when they were in Delhi and this was the inception of the whole concept of Wheelstreet. This happened in March of 2014 and after a hard 6 months we were operational in November 2014.

Q. What made you choose Bangalore as your second market after Delhi? How has the response been since its inception?

Bangalore with its booming IT culture and high population turnover has a lot of potential customers looking for bikes to rent out for various reasons like daily commutes or weekend getaways. Bangalore does not have a great public transport facility which makes a strong case for commuter bike rentals. Bangalore also has a lot of locations around it, which make for great weekend getaways. Combine this with an energetic crowd and you get the best atmosphere to rent out big recreational motorcycles.

Q. How many rides Wheelstreet has completed so far? How many rides you expect to complete by end of FY16?

Starting from November 2014 Wheelstreet has completed over 12, 000 rides. In the one month of operations in Bangalore we have completed over 200 rides. By the end of 2016 we are expecting to complete 1 lakh rides.

Q. Please list out the categories of bikes available and what are the charges? Do you also provide the subscription package to your customers?

Wheelstreet offers two-wheelers in all categories like ungeared scooters, geared commuter motorcycles, touring motorcycles, large touring motorcycles, sports and exotic super bikes. A small example would be, Wheelstreet offers bikes ranging from Activa, Splendor to Royal Enfield and Harley Davidson. We also offer the likes of Kawasaki Ninja and Suzuki Hayabusa. Charges range from Rs. 250 per day for an Activa to Rs.10, 000 per day for a Suzuki Hayabusa.

Yes, there are subscription packages for people looking at renting a bike for a long duration. Prices for long term subscription start as low as Rs. 2500/- per month for an Activa.

Q. What is the process one needs to follow to book a ride from Wheelstreet?
Currently Wheelstreet accepts booking through the website. Anybody can access and choose the location of their choice and select the bike after entering the duration of booking they are looking at. After the selection of the vehicle of their choice the customer is directed to sign in and make the booking. After this they will get a text and email having the details of the field executive (who will assist them in pickup or delivery) and pickup location. Now the customer just has to pick up the bike.

We also have delivery options if the customer wants to get the bike delivered at their place.

Q. Who are you competing with? What uniqueness does Wheelstreet offers that makes it different from its competitors?

We compete with all self-drive rental businesses starting from Zoomcar, JustRide, to two wheelers rentals. The main difference Wheelstreet rides on is the fact that it is an aggregator in a market filled with vendors. Wheelstreet also differentiates with their technology that enables it to have real time updates on bike availability and executives to assist throughout the renting process, be it field or website. Our pricing model is another USP. Wheelstreet offers a Royal Enfield for one full month at the price of a car for four days.

Q. What is your business model? Do you get the bikes from vendors or directly from the owners?

Bikes come to Wheelstreet from vendors who are into the business already. Wheelstreet has collaborated with veterans in the bike rental business to provide a hassle free experience for its users.
We have a process where our team goes to each vendor and checks the quality of the bikes and on boards bikes manufactured after 2014.

Q. Which are the other cities you are looking to expand your business in? How have you selected these cities? Is there any form of research by Wheelstreet which enables your decision making process?

Wheelstreet soon plans to expand to Pune and Hyderabad, followed by Chandigarh, Chennai, Pondicherry and Manali. Our research team takes the responsibility of conducting recces in various cities and understanding the market dynamics of each of them. According to our team we have found 40 potential cities in India.

Q. What are the challenges you have faced to start Wheelstreet?

We were lucky that vendors and customers soon got accustomed to the platform and were very supportive. Still there were a few challenges. The toughest ones were, convincing vendors that we are not a threat to their business but are there to facilitate their business and make it better (as we are aggregators). The other big challenge was real time availability. With vendors renting out bikes offline too, we had quite an issue with lack of real time data which was soon fixed with a back-end gateway for vendors to update their inventory. This backend system is user friendly as the vendors are not always tech savvy. They can now easily manage their inventory.

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