Amit has co-founded Yulu whose vision is to decongest urban traffic by providing a highly scalable, affordable, efficient and green mode for the first last mile connectivity and short distance commute. Amit believes that this is a large social problem that needs to be solved with technology and product innovation.
Prior to that Amit co-founded InMobi that is India’s first profitable internet unicorn. Amit played an instrumental role in building InMobi’s revenue engine and its expansion in 15+ countries. Amit is also an active angel investor and has invested in 25+ startups across India and the US. Amit graduated from IIT Kanpur and has received very prestigious Distunguished Alumni Award from the institution.
In an exclusive interview with SCIKEY, Mr Amit Gupta of Yulu Bikes speaks about the journey of Yulu bikes. He talks about how attracting the right talent is not as difficult a task as it may seem, and how taking on a social cause helps bring in more and more right fit talent.
Amit you started InMobi 13 years back now we know you as a Founder of Yulu Bikes. Like any other great Startup, Yulu bikes must have its journey. Please walk us through how Yulu came about it’s journey till now. What change is it aiming to bring at a larger scale?
InMobi was started when there was no startup ecosystem in the country. But we believed that a lot of people in India and across the globe would use mobiles for more than just talking to each other. It has been proved correct since mobiles are more of an internet device today than something that we use to speak to one another. There wasn’t a logical reason in place when I said that.
I would like to retire by the time I’m 40. As the age of 40 approached, I realized that I want to do something related to social impact and that’s where the idea of Yulu began taking form.
My goal for the next decade was thus to be joyful by solving a problem in society by giving back to them. As I looked around for prevailing issues, I took up traffic congestion and air pollution. This is how I began with the journey of Yulu. The traditional solution of building more roads, in reality, is no solution at all. Having more roads equals people buying more cars leading to more pollution. Developed countries like the USA and Europe have understood that building more roads is not the answer, but, they need to push people to pursue a different habit. Our endeavor was thus, to move people towards sustainable mobility since vehicles are smaller and eco-friendly. We cannot expect individuals to purchase them is why we introduced it as a service.
Our journey began two years back; since then we have achieved a ton of milestones. We feel that the dream we had seen in the beginning is slowly becoming a reality. At this stage, we are only operating within a few areas in the city. However, gradually we will begin expanding to other cities and localities within their areas. This is certainly a possibility.
Yulu EV’s bikes being a 2-wheeler, how do you ensure the safety of the rider. Does Yulu provide a safety-kit like helmets along with the bike?
As per the law our products essentially do not require a helmet as they are categorized as a NMV. However, we request our regular users to use one. We haven’t yet found a scalable way to provide a helmet for our users with a clean helmet that fits your style as well as your body. The problem that exists is, if we provide a high-quality helmet, someone will steal it whereas if we give a low-quality one no one uses it. Surprisingly, the word micro-mobility has turned into a big thing. Even in countries like the USA, their shared mobility does not require using a helmet. There is the whole concept of “Bring Your Own Helmet”, which is becoming a norm.
We have insurance for both the bike as well as the rider. Thankfully, we have not yet seen a fatal accident take place. We have done more than 25-billion-kilometer distance on our network. The number of accidents that are reported to us out of these is less than 10. The individuals in these accidents had suffered, not even a fracture let alone have a fatal accident.
As a leader, an incubator, and a founder for multiple startup companies helping them converting into high-growth sustainable businesses, what has been the role of your team members in these successes. Please share some memorable team building activity if any objective behind it.
“The most important thing for a startup founder is knowing the importance of the team and those working in your company” Since we aren’t manufacturing or creating a product but rather a solution, it is important to have passionate people that understand your vision and are excited about what you’re trying to build.
We do several things to bring people together, such as having excited people on board even when it comes to problem-solving since there are always ups and downs at work. In terms of bonding with the team, we maintain proactive communication, active conversations on WhatsApp, etc. On the fun side, we have team game competitions, team parties and outings where employees can have a relaxed time. In such events, people from different hierarchies come together, which allows them to communicate well with each other.
Both InMobi and Yulu are Tech-Savvy solutions, and there must be great talent working behind the scenes to make the product simple to use for the consumers. So, what have been your key strategies to attract hire the right talent?
Attracting the right talent is one of the key challenges that most companies undergo irrespective of whether they are a startup or not. At the same time, if your company is trying to find solutions for something that most people can relate to, then attracting the right talent gets easier. What it means is that the wider the problem, the more the number of people who can relate to that. For example: when we put out job descriptions for a particular job, the number of good quality applications we receive run into more than 500. The reason for this being that the problem that we are trying to address is one that most people can relate to. If the right individuals are hired in the beginning, it sets the tone for the other applicants to follow.
Share any hiring story of a person that was very unconventional and that person is now a treasured team member.
Our HR principle itself focuses on looking for an individual with the right attitude, ability to learn, followed by skill sets. So, for both “InMobi and Yulu, I have come across people who had this spark in their eyes even though their background didn’t match the ones we were looking for, but they turned out to be gems for us” We have this employee called Jinith. A couple of years back, we were launching our card called encoach. We hired a bunch of promoters to distribute some cards where if you send an SMS to the said number you will be sent deals in return. So, this guy was working with Tata Indicom at the time, he came and started selling his dongle. This just college passed guy had so much hunger in him that we asked him to come join us, and he did. Today he is one of the oldest employees at our firm and is our go-to guy for whenever we have to start a business in a new country.
In one of the interviews, you said, “We have followed a principle of transportation, which we call 3A mobility: Acceptability, Affordability and Availability. What has been your strategies so far for all the 3As?
When we began with this business, we were figuring out the kind of vehicles that people might like, service modes they may prefer etc. In the word mobility, there is the concept of 3 A’s. For a medium to become successful and impactful, all the A’s must work well together. Affordability refers to when people can opt for the service and is affordable for all, which is why we have kept our prices to be low. Accessibility would be to see how far is the Yulu zone from your work or office.
Availability is linked with the number of vehicles we have got. So, instead of saying that we will be providing our services in the entire city, we chose a few areas where we could provide our services. For example, in the city of Pune, we have about 3000 vehicles across three regions which are Hinjewadi, Kalyani Nagar, Vimaan Nagar. These are some of the new areas that we have added.
Our idea is to build a base in a neighborhood then a city. These areas then give us spaces to build Yulu zones. These zones are nothing but a typical one-car park area or two, where we ask the user to pick or drop off the vehicles. From the size and scale perspective, our operations are much larger in Bangalore, over 65% of assets sit there, followed by Pune. In Pune, we have about 350 Yulu zones whereas in Bangalore we have about 8000 vehicles running across 1200+ Yulu zones. The other thing that we have done in Bangalore but are yet to do in Pune is something called the Yulu Miracle, which is elliptical mobility product which has done tremendously well. Going forward, the company is focused on doing elliptical mobility as we believe that that is where the boxes are getting ticked.
Our mission is to decongest our cities as much as possible. Traffic congestion is a phenomenon that takes place during peak hours of the office. We are essentially trying to provide an efficient, affordable and scalable solution for urban mobility.
What is the best piece of advice that you would want to give young budding entrepreneurs?
My advice would be that while entrepreneurship is very fulfilling, it is also a tough job. So, anyone looking to become an entrepreneur needs to understand that it comes with a package. It has its share of success, happiness and joy. But at the same time, there are hardships and sometimes failures. Any individual who wants to walk on this path should not only be motivated, saying that he/she will only attain success. But should also have the capability and the perseverance to get through challenges.
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