BITS Pilani alumni’s online bike service platform raises $500k, to go into overdrive
Gear6.in is a Bengaluru-based online bike service and repair platform. After three months of operations, the startup today announced that it had raised a $500k seed round from Ninestarter Services. The funding will be mainly utilised in marketing, onboarding more service centres, and expanding their customer base.
Story so far
Gear6.in was founded in November 2015 by four BITS-Pilani alumni – Rakesh Vaddadi (CEO), Harrsha Chaittanya (CMO), Kumud Kumar (CTO), and Srikanth Nelakuditi (COO) and now consists of a 30-member team. The startup officially began operations in January 2016 and claims to be averaging about 500 transactions a month at this stage.
Gear6.in aims to simplify end-to-end bike maintenance and bring the entire sector online and help consumers save effort and make bike maintenance more economical and viable. It also wants to help customers make more informed decisions and have more control over the whole cycle. Covering a range of services, from regular servicing to more complex bike breakdowns, gear6.in claims to be well-equipped to handle a plethora of problems.
The startup provides services in almost all localities in Bengaluru, and currently has tie-ups with more than 100 authorised and multi-branded service centres. Talking about the pain points customers face, Rakesh said,
The motorcycle maintenance landscape in India is largely fragmented and unorganised, with a large disparity in rates, service quality, and customer experience across garages and service centres. We started gear6.in to address these problems.
Speaking to YourStory, Rakesh added that they are not charging any of the authorised centres that have partnered with them, at this stage. He said, “Our current focus is not on generating a lot of revenue from all channels. There is a lot of inefficiency in the system and mindsets need to change.”
Gear6.in currently only charges end customers for transport and towing fees to sustain operations. In the future, they aim to monetise through multiple channels once the market is more mature on both the supply and demand side. In the long term, Gear6.in aims to expand to more cities and enter other verticals too like the four-wheeler servicing sector and also provide services for cycle owners. Rakesh added,
The long-term vision is to be a platform that caters to anything with wheels.
How it works
To get their vehicles serviced or repaired, users can request one of gear6.in’s technician’s to come to their doorstep and assess the situation. Currently, users can place the request through the website and from their recently launched Android app(with iOS to be launched soon) by picking their preferred time and date. Rakesh added that the team currently sees a lot of traction on weekends and many orders from commercial areas during the week. He said,
We have been able to pick up vehicles from our customer’s offices and successfully deliver it back to them by the time they need to leave in the evening.
After checking out the vehicle, taking notes and photographs, the technician informs the owner of the issues and makes necessary arrangements. If the vehicle has a major issue, the technician arranges for a towing vehicle and takes it to the service centre chosen by the user. In case the vehicle is in working condition and has minor issues, the technician drives it to the service centre to get it fixed.
Users are provided with a real-time tracking system to help them monitor the progress remotely. Once the vehicle is ready, it is returned to the owner for a final inspection and he or she can then make the payment either online or through cash.
Rakesh added that they have a rigorous onboarding process for all their technicians which includes police verification and a seven-day training process, which includes written and practical tests.
With the number of vehicles increasing on the road globally, there is a big market for maintenance and repair services for both two and four wheelers. USA-based Your Mechanic, which recently raised a $24 million Series B round, is a prominent player in this space. Closer home in India, we have Mericar.com that is backed by Rajan Anandan and My First Cheque along with recent entrants like Cartisan which raised an undisclosed amount in its seed round funding from YouWeCan ventures in July 2015 and Gurgaon based-Carpathy.
Coming to two-wheelers, Drivojoy founded by ex-Ola and Microsoft employees recently raised Rs 4 crores from IAN and Bengaluru-based LetsService, are other players in this sector. But Drivojoy’s main focus is on quick fixes and problems which their professionals can perform on the spot. Gear6.in on the other hand aims to focus on more elaborate fixes at service centres.
India is estimated to be the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world. With Indians generally being more value conscious and a large number generally relying on them for day-to-day transport, there is potential for tremendous growth for Gear6.in in the near future.
While internal combustion vehicles will probably stay around for a long time, a new breed of electric vehicles are making their way into global markets. Ather Energy recently unveiled Ather S340, an electric two wheeler made of a light-weight aluminium chassis and powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Also last week, Tesla announced that their mass market electric vehicle, Model 3 priced at $35,000 would available for shipping to India in late 2017. Then there are vehicles like Mahindra's E2O and Hero Electric's Maxi trying to bring about a change.
Gear6.in has an interesting value proposition for a valid pain point and with this round of funding has got the necessary firepower to experiment and capture the two wheeler market. But it will be interesting to see how this sector evolves in the coming years and how startups innovate with the times.