Phani Raj Kuchibhotla

Curious Curator

Ideas to Scale Ola PEDAL

As per this Medianama Story , Ola is launching a Bicycle sharing service too. As Medianama points out from China’s experience, these shared bicycles there became a too much of parking nuisance.

People were parking cycles anywhere, blocking the way for pedestrians and traffic, and authorities in China found bicycles dumped in rivers, abandoned anywhere on land, hanging in trees, etc. Also, many startups lost their bikes because they didn’t have a GPS tracking device. Via Business Insider.

Ideas as to how Ola can tackle this parking issue and then also scale.

Instead of letting users to park anywhere they want, Ola can signup Bicycle NetWork Partners (called BNPs from now onwards ), who are willing to let the end users, park the bicycles in their premises. These BNPs could none other than small pan/kirana shops or even households with space to park 3 or 4 bicycles. Needless to say, with this arrangement, we will find bicycles in every nook and corner of India .

Bicycle Network Partners can also be the investors in new cycles, for a small revenue share. Ola can ask BNPs to invest(outright purchase) in 3 or 4 cycles and they will get a revenue share every time the cycle is used. This way Ola can scale to millions of BNPs who invest in cycles and place them for hire on Ola PEDAL platform. This is similar to cab drivers placing their cars on Ola network.

Ofcourse the business plan here needs to be viable for BNPs atleast ( I guess Ola wouldnt care for their business plan in short term)

What is required from Ola ?

  • Constant supply of Bicycles to new Investors(BNPs), which Ola claims are manufactured in India (by them?).
  • Some sort of Insurance or replacement plan for damaged or stolen cycles, so that BNPs can confidently invest in these cycles.
  • Transprent tech on the number of times the cycle is used and the daily revenue share.
  • Realtime location of the bicycle.
  • Price cycles such that they are with in reach for BNPs initially.

What is required from BNPs ?

  • Take care of the cycles at their premises.
  • Invest upfront in cycles.
  • BNPs work as the care takers of cycles and would get a revenue share for their time and money.

Revenue share logistics

What if the cycles invested by a particular BNP never gets used? Is it a dead investment for them? Once the cycle leaves their premesis and gets parked on some other BNPs premises and never gets picked up , how to handle such cases ?

I think, the way Ola can handle this is to split the revenue across all BNPs, irrespective of thier cycle being used or not , in proportion to the number of cycles they invested in subject to following condition

:A partner eligible for revenue share only if there is atleat one cycle hired from their premises and atleast one cycle parked overnight on a given day.

Is this solution in search of a problem? Has any of the China based startups used this approach for scaling?

How to enforce bicycle handover to BNPs

A bicycle should be considered as handed over to BNP only when a BNP scans it with the app on his phone. This ensures that the user’s trip is ended and BNP accepted the cycle. This also helps to calculate the revenue shares for BNPs. BNPs at the time of acceptance can highlight any issues with the cycle , to Ola .