This woman entrepreneur is helping Indians ‘own’ a car without the hassles of long-term commitment
After working closely in the mobility space for over a decade and a half, entrepreneur Sakshi Vij believes little has changed when it comes to a person’s car ownership journey.
“I never owned a car for the longest time simply because I felt like it was too much of a hassle. In India, owning a car comes with a lot of problems. Customers would either have to make a down payment or worry about the residual value of the car, maintenance, and insurance, among other things,” she tells HerStory.
In 2018, this set her on an entrepreneurial journey to start, a car rental platform that allows users to choose from more than 38 different models and rent them by hours, days, weeks, and months.
The Myles journey
Sakshi says the aim was to let people enjoy the freedom of having a car to oneself without making a long-time commitment. The Delhi-based startup began by renting new, pre-owned, commercial, or private vehicles, depending on one's budget and use case.
Users book a test drive through its app or website and then subscribe for a certain timeframe without fussing over paperwork like registration, the authorisation of loans, and insurance.
“One can upload their documents and get verified online. It is as easy ordering a meal online,” she adds.
While the startup gains direct customers through its B2C model, it also operates on the B2B2C model via partnerships with car manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, and MG Motors.
While price differs from models and time, Sakshi explains that a car worth Rs 15 lakh in the market would be available for Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 per month. Not only can users choose to close the subscription or upgrade it to a different vehicle, but Myles also assures emergency assistance in case unfortunate road accidents should take place.
Now present in 21 cities across India, Sakshi says the startup has been able to deliver its proof of concept in the last few years by “bringing all the touchpoints of a car buyer into Myles’ gamut”.
According to her, customers reacted well to the subscription model during the pandemic as the need for personal transport increased even as people became wary of spending on asset purchases like cars due to financial restraints.
With 2,000 cars on the platform, Sakshi claims that an immediate surge during the pandemic led to 20 to 30 percent month-on-month growth.
Challenges and the road ahead
Sakshi says her entrepreneurial journey was not without any road bumps. The first challenge is raising awareness among people as the startup strives to create a category of customers who are more accepting of the flexibility it offers.
Myles is seeing rising demand for electric vehicles in the market, especially in cities like Delhi, Bombay, Bengaluru, Pune, Jaipur, Indore, and Kanpur. At present, it is focused on penetrating deeper into the domestic market and tapping the opportunity in the EV market as a product category.
Working with a team of 25 people, the startup is funded with investment from friends and family, including a few angel investors. It hopes to raise further funds soon.
“There are about three million new and used cars that are sold today in India. Over the next five years, we would like to have at least two percent of that market shift completely to subscription and hopefully, at least five percent over the next six to seven years,” Sakshi adds.
Zoomcar and Let Me Drive are some of the startup’s competitors in the market.
Speaking on whether gender has impacted her work in the startup ecosystem, Sakshi says she chooses not to focus on any kind of bias that may be coming her way and operates with a focus only on the goal to disrupt the mobility industry.
To budding entrepreneurs, she advises, “focus on building a sustainable business model and make sure you’re solving real problems for the customer”.
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