[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Why this lawyer decided to start a bicycle rental startup in Rajasthan
We all have fond memories associated with cycling. Learning to pedal without any support for the first time has simply been exhilarating for most of us. While cycling has been a childhood memory for many, Pooja Vijay, Founder of Pink Pedals, felt it was an important skill and something that needs to become a part of everyday life.
“We live in a world of hustle-bustle, and cycling helps you get that time for yourself. It also keeps you in touch with the nature. To top it, with the growing traffic congestion problems, most cities are highly polluted. It was what got me to start Pink Pedals in 2017. I named the company Pink Pedals as a tribute to my city - Jaipur, the pink city,” says Pooja, in a conversation with HerStory.
Pink Pedals is now backed by Her&Now, an initiative that empowers women entrepreneurs, implemented by GIZ, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation in partnership with the Government of India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE).
From law to bicycles
A lawyer by profession, Pooja first started by renting out bicycles. Initially, she bought ten bicycles, and soon worked her way up towards building partnerships that helped get more bicycles on the streets. A mother by then, Pooja had to juggle between two responsibilities - motherhood and setting up the business.
“I want more people to use bicycles. When Delhi was named as one of the most polluted cities in the world, I knew we had to do something,” says Pooja. Pink Pedals had started introducing bicycle sharing projects in Jaipur, and rented out cycles to corporate houses and university campuses as well.
“The idea was to get more professionals and students to cycle around the city. We conduct cycling tours, and our charges are based on the number of kilometres you choose to rent and cycle for. The more the kilometres, the lesser the cost,” says Pooja.
She says, initially people had doubts if they would be able to pedal that long. “But once they started pedalling, we have seen people coming back for more.”
Pooja says, being a tourist destination, Jaipur mostly tends to have a lot of footfall and traffic, but cycling around the heritage city has its advantages. “Many people come into the city now wanting to cycle around,” says Pooja.
Initially, there were challenges in changing people’s mindset. Many wondered why Pooja quit her lucrative law career to start a bicycle business. But she was sure that it was something she wanted to do and change.
“Any change needs to start from you, if you do it, and push towards it, people will follow,” says Pooja. While the business saw a drop in the few months of the pandemic, it slowly started picking up.
The team now has an inventory of different kinds of cycles - high-end gear bicycles, bicycles for elders, tandem bikes, etc., and over one lakh kilometres have been ridden in over 50 kinds of bikes. The company charges around Rs 10 to Rs 50 for renting out these bicycles.
In future, Pooja aims to make cycling mainstream. Advising all women entrepreneurs she says,
“If you have an idea and a passion to do something, go ahead and do it. The challenges will sort themselves out along the way.”