How Shreyas Shibulal is enlarging the scope of EV ecosystem in India

Shreyas Shibulal is driving EV adoption in India by investing in various segments of the ecosystem with his clean mobility venture - Micelio.
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The electric vehicles (EV) industry in India is on top gear with new product launches, newer startups, and established automotive companies getting into this segment.

Given this environment, Shreyas Shibulal, founder of Micelio Mobility, a clean mobility startup, wants to accelerate EV adoption in the country through a multi-pronged approach, which includes investing in these startups, setting up R&D, and provide EVs directly to early adopters.

Son of Infosys co-founder SD Shibulal, Shreyas forayed into this segment way back in 2018, and today he has three main business verticals -- Micelio Fund that invests into startups; Micelio Discovery Studio, which is like an incubation for the players in the ecosystem; and Lighting Logistics that provides last-mile delivery solutions with a 100 per cent EV fleet.

In a conversation with YourStory, Shreyas says, “The idea was to go after different parts of the ecosystem as well as foster collaboration among our different entities.”

Different businesses

Micelio Fund is a $20 million entity and invested into five EV startups in 2021 – Cell Propulsion, Sheru, RaceEnergy, ElectricPe, and eplane.ai.

According to Shreyas, the venture capital fund vetted through over 150 proposals before making its final investments. Its funding amount ranges between $150,000 and $1 million.

The Micelio Discovery Studio acts like a Research & Development hub where companies and individuals who are part of the EV ecosystem can come and test their products, software, or other things, which they have on their mind. It already has over 100 members.

“Through Micelio Discovery Studio, there is a community that has been built where the members have access to various elements of the EV ecosystem,” says Shreyas.

The Discovery Studio facilitates the journey from the idea stage going all the way to product development. Also, there are domain experts to provide the guidance.

Lighting Logistics is the commercial arm of Micelio, which has 1,500 EVs under its fold where the early adopters have been the ecommerce and logistics companies with presence in three cities – Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai.

Collaboration

Given this background, Shreyas believes that each entity is going to be different with its own objectives, but there is also going to be a collaboration among them.

The Micelio Fund will continue to invest in startups and the number of them could be potentially higher this year.

“There is tremendous conviction among these founders to make a difference in the EV space,” says Shreyas.

However, while investing into these startups, Shreyas has a few objectives in mind. Firstly, Micelio Fund is focused on what kind of market opportunity these startups are looking at, and how they are planning to capture this segment. Secondly, it is also important for the startups to build linkages with the established companies in areas such as automotive and energy so that they are part of the broader ecosystem.

“Many of these industries are well established and have their own network, so it is important to build linkages with them as EV startups are relatively a new concept,” remarks Shreyas.

Similarly, in the space of Micelio Discovery Studio, Shreyas would be looking at adding more members to this group who can provide the inputs besides pursuing collaboration with various kinds of institutions -- be it academic or research bodies.

On Lighting Logistics, Micelio plans to expand the fleet in an “exponential” manner and expand into newer cities along with bringing in other industry segments into its fold.

The EV ecosystem

Micelio had an early mover advantage as it decided to get into the space of EV way back in 2018 when there was not much buzz in the adoption of these vehicles.

Shreyas says, “Governments were being proactive in this segment and the conviction was there, but it was just a matter of time when the adoption of EV picks up.”

According to him, many government policies were driving the demand side of EVs like providing subsidies coupled with prices of batteries coming down. This has expanded the ecosystem as more investments were flowing into this segment, which saw emergence of newer startups.

As of now, the B2B segment is the early adopter of EVs as it has made a lot of sense in terms of cost of ownership and unit economics in the long run. However, Shreyas believes the B2C segment will take a longer time in terms of adoption, though two and three-wheeler segments have been the early adopters.

“The deal flow into the EV segment is unprecedented and many people are taking big bets in this space,” says Shreyas.

Plans ahead

The founder of Micelio says many entrepreneurs in the EV space are coming out with tremendous technology capability in a specific product or component, but much needs to be done.

Micelio is looking at how it can further enable this collaboration among all the key participants in the EV ecosystem so that it results in higher value end-to-end product.

“If the right introduction is made, there is tremendous opportunity to build optimal products through collaboration and that is the path Micelio is set out on,” says Shreyas.

He believes there are few challenges faced by the EV industry in India, especially in the design and production of critical components like motor controllers, batteries or motors as there is a high dependence on foreign suppliers.

“If the country can start manufacturing these components, then it would tremendously help the EV ecosystem, but it will take time,” says Shreyas.

As part of its future plans, Micelio will look at scale in all its three business segments where it can have sustainable as well as profitable operations.

“Our conviction at Micelio was to catalyse the adoption of EVs in India and we are doing it by bringing all the elements of this ecosystem,” says Shreyas.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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