First and last mile connectivity remains a constant issue in most parts of India, from overcrowded cities to remote hinterlands. It’s this obstacle in the country’s mobility ecosystem that Vogo Automotive co-founder and CEO Anand Ayyadurai aspired to solve, along with his team of technicians. He set out to do this by creating a unique platform for daily commuters where they can hire a two-wheeler anytime and anywhere, for their local commuting needs without any human intervention, which has also become a vital factor after the pandemic.
Launched in 2016 by IIT and IIM alumni – Padmanabhan Balakrishnan, Sanchit Mittal and Anand Ayyadurai, Vogo is a technology-based personal mobility solutions provider that offers convenient, affordable and reliable two-wheeler journeys, thus making more predictable and less tedious daily commutes for dozens of commuters. Today, Vogo is one of the largest moored scooter rental providers in India with a fleet of 20,000 people and over seven million trips and 70 million km.
Before laying the foundation for his entrepreneurial journey, Ayyadurai explored some of the high growth start-ups and international companies like IBM Global Services, AstraZeneca, Brainvalley Solutions and GE Commercial Finance. He also had brief stints as Director – Retail at Flipkart and Associate Vice President at Housing.com. With over a decade of experience, Ayyadurai has been instrumental in launching several radical initiatives across all industries. In her current role, Ayyadurai is responsible for defining the business strategies of the local startup and managing a deserving team. He also plans to unravel the blockages for a sustainable mode of transport.
IndianTelevision.com’s Anupama Sajeet reached out to the entrepreneur to talk about the brand’s future plans amid the changing dynamics of commuters in a post-covid world, and his vision to decongest the country’s roads and electrify its fleet. Ayyadurai also shared her thoughts on the brand’s latest #GoSafe campaign, which addressed vaccine reluctance and urges young people to get bitten for Covid-19.
On the impact of the pandemic on two-wheel rentals, and the brand’s revenues
The containment has had an impact on the urban mobility sector as a whole. With living and working from home being the new normal, there has been a shift in usage trends. People are more concerned with safety and health and the convenience of a vehicle on the go. With this in mind, we launched our short-term rental product Vogo Keep in April of last year which received a rather positive reception. Instead of opting for commuting and hourly rentals, users can rent a vehicle for a day, weeks or a month at minimal cost. This gave them the ability to use a vehicle within lockout standards and allowed travel times, while still maintaining a safe ride option with them. While the number of rides per day has declined over the past year due to the pandemic, short-term rental plans have helped us maintain a higher ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).
On the brand’s media mix and its evolution over the past year
As a digitally driven brand, our primary focus has been on leveraging digital touchpoints for our brand’s media mix. Social community and performance marketing have traditionally played a central role for us and continue to do so, supported by hyper-local offline outreach activities to generate targeted use cases. We have also started to use our 20,000+ powerful vehicles as our brand connection points and continue to try different marketing campaigns with an individual approach where we can leverage our scooters to generate visibility with pop-ups. and interactive design envelopes and complete the same with online awareness
Based on consumers and the constantly evolving target group of Vogo
From our launch in 2016, until the pandemic, nearly half of our consumers used Vogo for office trips. Almost 28 percent of our consumers used it for their personal work, while 17 percent used it for their leisure activities. After the pandemic, there was an e-commerce boom in cities, so currently food delivery and e-commerce make up 46% of our top users. While most businesses continue to work from home, office travel has decreased to 22% while personal use is 19%. Another new category of users during the pandemic is frontline workers who represent 8% of our consumers.
Given that the pandemic is here to go on for a while, and e-commerce is here to stay forever, I would say our future TG would be a mix of office workers, on-demand workers, and those on the go. shopping / shopping. Once colleges and universities open, we might see an increase in student use.
On the Changing Dynamics of Commuters in a Post-Covid World.
The pandemic has caused major changes in the psyche of customers. Currently, the top priority of every commuter is safety, followed by affordability and accessibility. Public transport and carpooling are considered risky at the moment. This opens up a huge market for emerging shared micro-mobility, as it minimizes human interactions. It’s also affordable for short distances and emergencies, while still being the perfect and fastest way to get around congested urban spaces. Also, short-term subscriptions are more convenient than purchasing a personal vehicle.
On the brand’s commercial strategies in the post-pandemic world
Until the pandemic, Vogo only offered daily trips under the “Vogo Now” package. After the first wave hit, people were reluctant to share vehicles more regularly and on an hourly basis with others. Plus, with the lockdown restrictions in place, users wanted a product that gave them the flexibility of having a vehicle for personal use without sharing with others and investing in. So we introduced “Vogo Keep”, our consumer-focused subscription package, whereby riders can rent scooters for up to a month at a nominal price. In July 2021, customer retention increased by 8% (from 34% to 42%) in Hyderabad and by 3% (from 46 to 49%) in Bangalore and Hyderabad combined.
We were also able to fix the costs by experimenting with the franchise model in Hyderabad. Instead of setting up our own docks, we have on-board franchise partners in all of the main areas of the city, which serve as docks from which people can drop off and collect vehicles. The docked model allows us to keep track of our scooters and ensures that the scooters go through a strict maintenance protocol after each completed ride and a four step disinfection process before it is picked up by the customer. Because these franchisees already had space in these areas, we created value for them and saved substantial amounts on rent. Today, 100% of our docks in Hyderabad are franchises.
Plus, our keyless scooters allow riders to start their journey by simply scanning the QR code, contactless, hassle-free. The integration of IoT has helped develop a human-machine interface that allows minimal human intervention to start and stop the scooter using Bluetooth.
On influencer enrollment for the brand’s latest #GoSafe campaign and ROI
Reluctance to vaccinate is a big challenge globally today, especially when it comes to COVID-19. In India, 62% of people said they were unwilling to get vaccinated when the vaccination program began in January this year, according to a survey by local circles. The aim of the campaign was to generate as many impressions as possible and to involve as many people as possible in raising awareness about vaccination. Since we had created scooter stickers and IG filters with “punny” messages like “holy shot” and “that’s my jab”, we decided to take a humorous route. Therefore, the list of influencers Rahul Subramanian, Gowtham Shravan Kumar, Zaynab and Ashmitha matched perfectly. We had over 3.5 lakh of people engaging with IG filters and influencer posts.
We have also integrated the #GoSafe campaign into our app and rewarded people with free rides to be a Good Samaritan, get vaccinated and download their vaccination certificates. We offered free rides worth 4 lakhs. With a mix of social and in-app communication, we received over 1200 bookings of which 376 were new users and total revenue that was 5.6 times the amount spent on the campaign.
On expansion projects beyond the southern market
Currently, we have over 20,000 scooters operating in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mysore at over 500 reception points. In August 2021, we launched in Udupi and Mangalore. The plan is to cross India and target a wider geographic spread. We are considering cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh and Gurgaon as our next set of launches next year.
We are also gradually moving towards the adoption of more electric vehicles. Currently 10% of our fleet is electric and we are also building our own electric two-wheeler.