Forget about rising petrol prices, parking is an even scarcer commodity. If not today, then definitely tomorrow, people will have to adopt public transport as part of their daily commute. However, public transport has limitations.
First and last mile connectivity is a problem faced by users of public transport to connect from their origin to the nearest transit point (bus stand or station) and similarly from the transit point to their destination (office, college and so on).
To solve this major pain-point, Arjit Soni decided to launch MYBYK. It’s a ‘bicycle feeder service’ aimed at addressing the problem of first and last mile connectivity faced by the users of public transport, be it the local trains, metro rail, BRTS, and city bus service etc.
“MYBYK achieves this by offering its members a bicycle sharing facility, which simply put is a facility wherein members can drop the bicycle at any terminal and pick up another bicycle from any terminal,” says Arjit.
MYBYK helps address this acute problem and that too in an economic, healthy and environment friendly manner.
Evolution of MYBYK
Arjit had spent a couple of years brainstorming on the idea, bouncing it off to a couple of friends to understand their views and concerns and studying the success and failure of other bike sharing systems across the globe.
When he finalised his business model, Arjit decided to meet a couple of people in his father’s business circle. “While I could’ve borrowed from my father, I decided to test the merit in my idea. The very first day, I met three investors of which two agreed to invest,” adds Arjit.
Eureka moment: Appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“After soliciting support from Hero Cycles Ltd., the next task was to bounce off the idea to the government,” says Arjit
Meanwhile, he came across Prime Minister (then CM of Gujarat) Narendra Modi’s video on Youtube on CA Day, where he invited CAs to contribute more towards the society and pass on their ideas to the government. “I decided that I had to meet him and did so. I didn’t have a prior appointment. He not only met me but also listened to me. He informed me that he himself has studied on this subject and witnessed the project being implemented on one of his visits to Beijing,” reveals Arjit.
He recalls how Modi sought some more clarity, gave some valuable inputs and concluded saying, “Bataiye aap kab se shuru karna chahte hain aur main aapki kya madad kar sakta hun? (Tell me when do you plan to start and how can I help?)”
How an 8th standard dropout became first employee for MYBYK
Arjit was at Cafe Coffee Day wondering how he will be able to find 20 employees for his project. He asked the waiter who served him for his mobile number. “The next day, I called on his number. While he picked up the phone, he panicked and passed on the phone to his colleague Rohit,” says Arjit.
To his surprise, Rohit was speaking in fluent English and sounded very polished. The next day, Arjit met him and got to know that he was a class 8 dropout (due to family issues), worked as a tourist guide in Nepal (where he learnt English), then worked as an accent trainer in a BPO and finally moved to CCD where he was then working as an Assistant Manager – Cafe.
“My eyes lit up since Rohit was the perfect man for the perfect job. A qualified man would’ve never agreed to do a blue collared job. Rohit had the right skills, was street smart but more importantly a doer. He was immediately hired and thus MYBYK got its first employee,” adds Arjit.
So far traction and road ahead
The current project in Ahmedabad is a pilot project. Out of 127 BRTS stations, at present, MYBYK offers bike share service (drop anywhere, pick from anywhere) at only four stations and will soon extend to nine stations.
“The pilot project was set up with the sole intention of introducing the concept to the end users, investors and government authorities, gauge user response, understand operational challenges, and evaluate operational viability, etc,” points out Arjit.
In less than three months, the startup has already crossed more than 500 registrations and is witnessing renewals from about 75-80% of its existing customers.
“The true potential of the project will be realised once we expand our services to each and every BRTS station which will require a sizeable investment. That will help us target the entire market of 1.5 lakh daily commuters of the BRTS besides non-BRTS users who are looking to make a shift from private vehicles,” says Arjit.
In order to scale it up, MYBYK is negotiating with the local municipal corporation for allocating requisite space near each and every BRTS station. The company is also looking at introducing hybrid bikes in the future.
“The next few years are going to witness some great inventions in the field of bicycling such as the Copenhagen wheel and we are confident that it will go a long way in bringing bicycles back on the road,” says Arjit.