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Case Study

Electric India: Zypp Electric goes the last mile on just two wheels

Zypp Electric team members setting up some electric device.

Decarbonizing delivery with subscription fleets of electric scooters, ebikes

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted a distinct path to electrify the country’s transportation, pledging that by 2030, 65% of all new vehicle sales will be electric. That ambitious goal largely rides on the widespread adoption of electric two-wheeled scooters and three-wheeled auto rickshaws that dominate the country’s urban streets. With one of the world’s lowest private vehicle ownership rates–22 per 1,000 inhabitants compared to 980 in the US, 850 in Europe, and 164 in China–India’s transport electrification will be bound up in the e-bikes and scooters that power last-mile delivery from Mumbai to Bangalore. “There’s a huge opportunity to shift the country’s last mile deliveries to become electric,” says Akash Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Zypp Electric. “We are on a mission to convert last mile delivery and mobility to electric.”

Zypp Electric co-founder and CBO Rashi Agarwal says Zypp is providing electric vehicles as a service. “Looking at the current pollution concerns and high petrol prices, EV is a great solution,” Agarwal told India Times in March 2022. “The vision to make a difference in the country keeps me going.”

Zypp Electric is currently the largest player working on transforming the last mile delivery segment to electric vehicles. Gupta feels the company stands out because of the quality of its fleet management. “We have five years of experience working on electric vehicles, and we have solved the challenges of adoption-pain points and what consumers are looking for,” he says.

Gupta believes such a conversion is a great business opportunity that will also make a positive impact on the world by reducing pollution and the carbon footprint of small two- and three-wheeled delivery vehicles. When he and Agarwal co-founded Zypp Electric in 2017, he knew the market for sustainable mobility was huge. “It was super exciting,” he says.

Gupta and Agarwal are matter-of-fact about the challenges of converting an entire country, and perhaps eventually the world, to electric vehicles (EVs). The EV charging and swapping infrastructure is still a work in progress; maintenance and spare parts are, Gupta says, “a broken journey;” and it’s hard to attract investment in a still-evolving technology. Agarwal told India Times that “the lack of infrastructure and fear of mileage and adoption” have prevented EVs from reaching their potential. “Zypp is trying to merge that gap.”

In 2020, Agarwal told Dkoding.com, “Infrastructure is not only about roads but about providing facilities to run EVs a long way. We are making efforts to create a feasible environment by putting in battery stations, among other things.”

Zypp Electric offers two plans: A business-to-business (B2B) plan and a business-to-consumer (B2C) plan. The B2B solution provides businesses with drivers, electric delivery vehicles, EV charging infrastructure, and EV maintenance support for last mile delivery. The B2C plan is simply an electric bike subscription for deliverers. The company aims to accelerate India’s, and eventually the world’s, adoption of electric vehicles, starting with last mile delivery.

Born in Jaipur, Gupta says he always dreamed of building his own business. After earning both a Bachelor of Engineering degree in computer science and an MBA, he worked for companies like Dell Perot Services and Airtel, India’s largest telecommunications company. Gupta then led marketing at the fintech company MobiKwik, before co-founding Zypp Electric with Agarwal in 2017. Agarwal, who also holds an MBA, worked in finance, management consulting, and ran her own internet company for two and a half years before co-founding Zypp Electric.

Zypp Electric’s strong market position

Gupta believes the company’s success in the massive Indian market will allow them to replicate their model in other markets over the next 24-36 months. “That’s our roadmap,” says Gupta. “We have done it all with very limited capital. We’ve executed well on the ground, and we are already operationally profitable.”

82% of Indian vehicles are two-wheeled, making electric bikes and scooters an obvious solution for urban parcel deliveries, as demand for food and package delivery continues to grow. Two-and three-wheeled vehicles are simple to drive and charge, and their batteries are lightweight and easy to swap. Delivery drivers can charge the vehicles at home and while working. “Around two million people are delivering goods in India using two-wheelers, and experts predict the market will grow to eight million couriers in the next five years,” says Gupta. “That’s an over-$50 billion market.”

Providing a positive experience for couriers

Zypp Electric positions itself as providing a superior experience for couriers. The Zypp Electric app educates users on how to use electric vehicles - how to get the vehicle, how and where to charge it, and how to swap the battery. Gupta says the company also plans to use videos, tutorials, and in-person training to educate couriers.

The company is committed to providing comprehensive support to users of their bikes. “EVs are new, and we understand the user pain point that if they get stuck, they need help,” says Gupta. “When people receive prompt help with their vehicles and resources (batteries, spare parts, etc.), that will build confidence in the EV ecosystem. We’ve incorporated that into our user journey, so that with the click of a button, they can immediately submit a ticket for any issue: maintenance management, bike charging, and bike swapping.”

A year ago, Zypp Electric launched an initiative to hire and train 3,000 women as delivery partners by the end of 2022, which would comprise 50% of the company’s workforce. The well-received program promotes inclusivity by making it possible for women who manage their households full-time to work for two or three hours making deliveries, which creates earning opportunities for women and families.

A unique fundraising strategy

Zypp Electric’s Zypp Entrepreneurship Program takes a fintech approach to increasing the number of bikes in their fleet, allowing investors to purchase bikes for the company. “Just like you can invest in the stock market, you can invest in electric bikes and the EV and sustainability ecosystem and get a good return,” says Gupta. “The monthly return is 18-20% IR, which is a healthy return.”

Gupta says the program supports the company’s intent to increase EV supply by having individuals or companies invest in bikes and lease them out. “It has scaled up quite well, and now we have multiple platforms who are leasing these bikes,” he says.

Google for Startups Accelerator: India

When Zypp Electric participated in Google for Startups Accelerator: India in 2021, the team was eager to work on their technology with Google mentors and talk about growth strategies. Their Google mentors helped them analyze their UI and UX, and suggested updates to the UI and UX of the Zypp pilot & user app, in order to improve conversions and usage from the app’s signup flow. The Zypp team also received guidance from Google mentors about which algorithms on which to focus as they developed their AI/ML strategy and worked with mentors to create a full AI roadmap.

Zypp Electric plans to implement Google Cloud and Google Maps Platform as they scale. “Our long-term partnership with Google means that as we scale, we can use more Google technologies,” Gupta says.

Google mentors also helped the team develop corporate culture strategies and improve their employer branding. They also helped the team shape the overall pitch and gather relevant data points to substantiate their fundraising story, which Zypp Electric leveraged to raise a $6.5 million Series A funding round.

What’s next for Zypp Electric

Gupta plans to continue scaling Zypp Electric to expand nationally and, he hopes, internationally. “I’m very excited about it being the largest last mile company in the past two to three years,” he says. “If we can solve it for India, we will be able to solve it globally.”

Gupta says he understands the importance of having a great team and advises other founders to do their homework before getting too ambitious. “You should know your business, your market, your product, your clients and your team,” he says. “You need to know your consumers very well; you need to find out what is working, and what is not. When you achieve product-market fit, you can start scaling.”

Learn more about Zypp Electric