MYBYK, the brainchild of Arjit Soni is a leading bicycle sharing service in India. It was launched in 2014 with the aim of solving the first and last-mile connectivity problem. Let’s read what Arjit has to share about his journey, the inception of his company, the motive behind starting the company, and much more.
- Can you share more details about MYBYK? How did it begin, and what prompted you to launch this venture?
The idea of MYBYK was born in 2010 while interning with PwC in Mumbai and commuting through the local trains. I would face the problem of not getting a rickshaw from my hostel to Andheri station (first mile) and from Dadar station to my office (last mile). Frustrated, I thought to buy two cycles for myself- the first cycle to go from the hostel to Andheri and park it there, and the second to commute from Dadar to my office. Thence, the idea of MYBYK started taking shape.
After becoming a CA and completing my internship, I returned to Ahmedabad in 2011 to join my father’s CA practice. However, the idea stayed with me, and I kept brainstorming. In 2013, with a deep desire to bring about an impact, I got to meet Narendra Modi, the then chief minister, and present this idea. To my surprise, he was very receptive and gave his go-ahead.
When I came back and narrated it to my father (who was elated), he asked me if I actually wanted to pursue the idea. I said ‘yes’, to which he said if you’ve decided so, follow it, forget my practice and give your 100%. That’s when I took the plunge and launched MYBYK in Jun 2014.
- What made you take a plunge into entrepreneurship? How do you cope with failure, and what keep you going?
During the first three years, the idea didn’t work out well as we were clearly ahead of our time (from a technology standpoint). However, I would always visualise the extent of the profound social impact MYBYK would make if it succeeded, and that is what kept me going.
In other words, my sheer belief in the idea gave me the strength to deal with failures and keep going.
- Can you share details about your business model?
The business model is pretty simple and straightforward. We rent cycles to customers on an hourly, weekly, monthly and long-term basis.
We have partnered with public transport authorities such as Metro, BRTS, etc. or smart cities / local municipal corporations to set up MYBYK Hubs across the city. Besides cities, we also work with corporates to provide intra-campus mobility. Some of our prominent clientele includes Reliance (Jamnagar refinery), Tata Chemicals (Dwarka), Adani Realty (Shantigram Township), SRF Chemicals, Meghmani Organics, etc.
With respect to our operations, we have fully harnessed the best-in-class technology to automate and monitor them. MYBYK currently operates across 7+ cities and 10+ campuses and is centrally monitored through our headquarters in Ahmedabad.
- How does MYBYK work?
To rent, all a user has to do is download the MYBYK app, locate the nearest hub, select & unlock the bike and ride!
There are essentially two value propositions that we offer:
- Users can drop off or pick up the bike from any hub. This feature is helpful to connect your first-and-last mile while using Public Transport.
- Our rentals are inclusive of all repairs & maintenance. In case of malfunction, simply replace the bike with another one at any Hub.
The service is available 24*7 and is fully automated.
- Do you think the government is doing enough to encourage the adoption of public transport? If not, what more can be done?
While I think the central government is doing quite a lot to encourage the adoption of public transport, there is scope for better implementation of these policies.
While there is a lot of awareness about the benefits of public transportation, more work needs to be done at the ground level to bring about the change towards better, modern and urban public transport systems that can decongest our cities and make them more liveable.
- What is your take on the Smart Cities project? Do you feel something could have been done differently here?
The Smart Cities project is indeed a game-changer to usher in a makeover of Indian cities and rejuvenate the urban landscape in India. The project has been conceived very well. The fact that funds from the Centre were parked in an SPV provided a better ability to ensure the utilisation of funds as per the policy.
- What are your future plans for MYBYK?
At MYBYK, we are not in the business of cycles; we are in the business of revolutionising mobility and thereby achieving the larger goal of making our cities liveable for future generations.
While we’ve started with cycles, we are now also looking to partner and integrate other forms of public transport (Metro, City Bus, Cabs, etc.) into our app and bundle all these forms into a single subscription (MaaS – Mobility as a Subscription). We believe this multi-modal form of mobility is what will compete against private ownership of vehicles and spur the adoption of public transport going forward. This will make our cities sustainable, decongested, pollution-free and habitable for future generations.
- On the personal front, what is the one lesson that entrepreneurship has taught you and your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
When considering entrepreneurship, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in yourself. What matters is whether you believe in the idea as things will go south when you start, and it’s during those times when your belief in the concept will give you the strength and conviction to persist with it.
So this would be my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Chase the idea; everything else is a by-product.