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Guwahati: Technocrats are now becoming job creators in Assam. Take, for instance, Sumit Das, a BTech from Visvesvaraya Technological University Regional Center Bengaluru and an Mtech from Rajiv Gandhi Central University, who is making waves with his electric and decentralized mobility solutions provider 'Bikozee' that has been embraced by the Assam State Transportation Corporation (ASTC) for its flagship 'Baayu' app. The founder of Bikozee Ecotech Private Limited, who envisions launching 5,000 electric bike taxis across the state, spoke to Business Northeast candidly about his beginnings and the benefits of the business-to-government (B2G) model.
Excerpts of the interview are below:
Business North East: What kind of revenue are you expecting to earn? Can you share some details of your revenue model?
Sumit Das: The focus is not on profit. The focus right now is on getting the services streamlined and ensuring that we have quality service in place. Whatever we are charging currently is only for vehicle subscriptions. There are no additional charges for the application provided to the customer or the driver. So, essentially, we are enabling the connection between the driver and the customer. The base fare is Rs. 39. The per-kilometer rate is much lower than that of other service providers.
BNE: Can you tell us about the beginnings of Bikozee?
SD: We started this journey in 2020 with logistics services with electric vehicles. In 2021, we became a private limited company. Since then, we have been operational in the B2B segment, offering last-mile delivery services to small and medium businesses. Therefore, in essence, Bikozee Ecotech Private Limited is a mobility service company. As we started increasing our fleet, we figured out that it was a good opportunity for us to enter the bike taxi segment as well. A bike taxi is something that is under a regulatory framework; it needs a license to operate. We wanted to come into the bike taxi segment along with the delivery segment on the same platform.
In the market, riders can either offer bike taxi service or delivery service. Contrasting with this, we approached the Assam Department of Transport with the concept of introducing open mobility for the state, which was first introduced in Kochi, Kerala. It is based on a set of regulations or codes that allow interoperability. This same technology is used in UPI. The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) is activated in multiple domains. For Bikozee, we went to the Department of Transport with the proposal that we wanted to start an open mobility segment and introduce the electric two-wheeler segment unique to India. We aimed to introduce 100 percent electric and 100 percent decentralized bike taxi services by the state government itself. A tendering process was carried out, and we participated in that. It took us almost one year to complete the entire project, develop the platform, and get all the approvals. We decided to provide our vehicles. There is an absence of reliability in the aggregator model, and if you want to file a complaint to some aggregator platform, you rarely get a response from them. As a government initiative, we had to follow all the guidelines.
BNE: How can a rider join your service?
SD: First, they need to apply with us. We do an interview, and based on their willingness, we invite them to the Rehabari Center of the Employment Exchange. In collaboration with the ASDM, we have a hall there that is under the model career services. The first round is orientation. Once the orientation is done, the interested drivers are forwarded to the next training phase in the employment exchange itself.
There, they go ahead with a 30-hour training, including both theory and practicals. After these trainings are cleared, we issue them a certificate in collaboration with (Assam Skill Development Mission) ASDM and ASTC. They have to complete documentation, after which the vehicles are handed over to the drivers. It is one of the assets of the organization. If someone uses the vehicle for three years, he will directly take ownership of the vehicle.
BNE: Can you tell us your association with Assam Start-Up?
SD: We were incubated at Assam Start Up, which has supported us in multiple projects. They helped us avail some initial grants, funds, etc. They provided us with co-working space on the fourth floor, and our operation team is based out of that. Most of the support ecosystem available in the northeast has supported us.
BNE: How much have you invested in building the app?
SD: The investment for the Baayu app is almost Rs 20 lakh. Most of it has been built in Bengaluru, where our tech team is based. However, there are server costs and other costs related to ONDC integration which will be recurring.