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How B:Live is giving Indians a taste of sustainable mobility through their unique electric vehicle platform

The Goa-based EV experience platform offers guided tours on electric bikes with an aim to promote sustainable tourism in India.

How B:Live is giving Indians a taste of sustainable mobility through their unique electric vehicle platform

Tuesday January 18, 2022 , 6 min Read

Samarth Kholkar and Sandeep Mukherjee have been best friends for 15 years, and the duo would often discuss business ideas that could positively impact the community. The ideas went nowhere until they hit upon the subject of electric mobility. Sandeep came with immense exposure to a mature electric vehicle (EV) space, while Samarth had an impressive knowledge of Goa’s tourism industry. A combination of their skills led them to launch B:Live in 2018. “We realised that we could leverage sustainable tourism to drive a better understanding of electric mobility. So, we came up with an idea to build a platform that would offer a first-hand EV experience. We wanted people to explore unseen locations and discover something new about themselves,” says Sandeep.

The name B:Live stemmed from the desire to make people leave their daily routines and corporate lives aside and truly live. “B:Live is the abbreviated version of being alive,” explains Sandeep. In tune with their vision, the team conducted their first e-bike tour to the scenic Divar Island in Goa. And there was no looking back. The startup recently launched its first multi-brand EV experience store in Hyderabad and has an exclusive 20 year-partnership with Goa Tourism.

Driving EV adoption

Today, B:Live is India’s first multi-brand omnichannel EV platform that lets users discover, own, and use electric vehicles. The idea was always to offer a first-hand EV experience that wasn’t available in India. “I would not be wrong if I say 99.9 percent of Indians have never experienced an electric vehicle. And that is why we decided to provide people with that experience. We came up with a platform with different kinds of electric vehicles, from where users can choose their EV, try it out, and talk to our EV experts. They can see and compare different electric vehicle products and get a fair assessment of what every product stands for and what it means for the customer,” says Sandeep.

The journey began with their initiative called EV tourism. This was their way to give users a hands-on experience of EV. The B:Live EV store was launched in August 2020 as an online marketplace for electric vehicles. Currently, it hosts over 20 brands of electric cycles and electric scooters. “EV enthusiasts can explore, experience, and purchase top electric two-wheelers (e2Ws) and electric bicycles (e-bikes) designed and manufactured by several Indian brands, including Hero Electric, Ampere, Hero Electric and Go Zero Lightspeed, etc,” explains Sandeep, adding, “We are making conscious efforts to facilitate EV adoption in India, where people find it challenging to shift to clean mobility because they haven’t had any experience with it. Our online store and experience center aim to offer an immersive experience that influences masses to ditch fuel-based vehicles and adopt EVs.”

Over the years, the team has had over 20,000 customers who have experienced EVs with them. And there is no stopping. Even though they came up with one experience store, there are about 100 more set to come up across the country.

Tiding over challenges

While the team has been steadily growing, it wasn’t easy to deal with mindset barriers. The duo noticed a lot of confusion and misinformation over how an EV scored better than a regular two-wheeler. Today, B:Live is present in 15 tourist destinations across nine states. “When we offer an EV experience, people think ‘this is really amazing, I would like to buy one.’ So that was the initial challenge that we faced - making people open up to the idea of EV,” he says.

It was during the lockdown when the team decided to be more digital-focused. They digitally got people to experience electric vehicles, while sitting in the comfort of their living rooms. “We went on a complete remodelling spree and started providing home demos, home experiences, digital live experiences, and more. And that changed the game significantly. We changed our strategy from being completely offline to having both online as well as offline services,” he says.

The startup even went on to raise over $1.5 million. Sandeep says, “We are also going to raise a big series very soon in the coming months. And we receive multiple accolades from different state governments, the government of India, and different platforms for our efforts to drive sustainable mobility in the country.”

Hitting the right audience

Having a digital footprint is another important factor for their success, which gave them a wider reach and made them accessible to consumers across India.

As India is one of the fastest-growing EV markets globally with several promising brands, B:Live wanted to approach the target audience - Indians - with a .in domain name. “We started B:Live to drive a deeper awareness of EVs in the country. The .in extension was the best way to approach our target audience – the people in India. It helped us gain trust, confidence, and also helped us understand the changing consumer behaviour and preferences,” he says.

Like B:Live, various companies across sectors have opted for a .in domain name. The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has helped various businesses across sectors easily get access to a .in or .Bharat domain. Companies can choose between 22 languages for a domain name after opting for .in and .Bharat.

“We get over one lakh inquiries monthly from across the country because of our website. This has further helped us build a strong community of sustainable travellers who promote eco-friendly practices and influence the larger audience,” says Sandeep.

The road ahead

The current growth has only encouraged the team to dream bigger. “We are putting together a digital platform for our consumers where you can learn about EVs, own, and use them. You can also learn about EVs through our e-bike tours, EV experts, and the forums we create on our digital platform. Through our service, users can own an electric vehicle, and we will take care of everything related to service maintenance, upgrades, ensuring the batteries are in good health, etc. And in terms of national footprint, we are looking at having over 100 experience centres across India and having more and more brands associated with us because we are always going to be a multi-brand entity,” Sandeep signs off.

The ‘Shaping India Inc's Online Growth’ series chronicles the journeys of startups and SMEs in India and how creating an online presence on the .in or .Bharat domain powered their success stories.