As a millennial who has recently started working, reaching office on time is one of the many daily struggles that I have to deal with.
It begins with multiple autos and cab drivers cancelling on me at the last moment. Once the vehicle eventually arrives, I am at the mercy of the traffic—and it doesn’t help that seeing scores of cars induces violent pangs of guilt for contributing to the increasing carbon emissions.
So, imagine my relief when I discovered Blu Smart’s services!
Blu Smart Mobility, a startup based out of Delhi was founded in January 2019 by Punit Goyal, Anmol Jaggi and Puneet Jaggi. The ride-sharing platform gives a green spin to their cab services through the operation of electric cars.
“In India, we know that pollution has become a cause of concern. The solution to this could be ride-sharing platforms, and electric mobility seemed like the best option to contain the problem,” says 35-year-old Punit.
Within a year, Blu Smart has completed over 1,25,000 all-electric rides and covered 2.5 million (2,500,000) “clean” kms.
Currently, they have a fleet of 366 cars in Delhi NCR and Mumbai, and claim that they complete about 1,100+ electric rides in a day and add one electric car to their fleet every 12 hours!
Blu Smart: Start of a journey
Although Blu Smart started functioning in January 2019, they only launched their app much later. When they first started, they began their operations in partnership with Uber in July 2019.
“We had just started and were still working towards building the app. Through the partnership with Uber, we wanted to offer a better mobility experience and to keep the customer acquisition cost-effective. We demonstrated that all-electric ride-sharing is going mainstream,” explains Punit.
Through the partnership with Uber, Blu Smart would complete about 1000+ rides in a day. The Blu Smart app was finally launched on December 5, 2019, and has already been downloaded over 16,000 times and has found loyal takers.
A case in point is Gaurav Vinayak, a resident of Delhi’s Gulabi Bagh. The 30-year-old Software professional from the national capital travels every day to his office in Gurgaon for one and a half hours every day.
“Although I travel to Gurugram in the metro and it is quite convenient, getting around the area for work-related purposes is painful. During surge hours, it is especially bad as I end up spending anywhere between Rs 250 to 300 for a single trip,” he says.
Gaurav’s woes ended three months back when his friend introduced him to Blu Smart’s cab services.
“It has become so much easier for me after I started availing their services. There is no kind of surge pricing, so where I would have to pay almost Rs 300, I only pay about Rs 149 now. I can plan my rides better, and no driver ever cancels on me. Also, I love the fact that these rides are eco-friendly—the city needs more of them,” he says.
What Gaurav has mentioned are some unique and convenient features that Blu Smart offers. These include:
1) No surge pricing
2) An option to schedule your ride
3) No cancellation option for the driver which reduces all the hassle of re-booking a trip.
4) The trips are also comparatively cheaper at Rs 6.5 / km There is also an offer of Rs 149 flat fare for travel within Gurgaon.
“Our fleet comprises electric cars which have been manufactured by TATA and Mahindra, and we have taken these on lease,” states Punit.
Needless to say, these features have been instrumental in helping them retain and expand their user base.
The founders and the green space
Punit is an alumnus of London School of Economics (Public Finance ‘06), Aston Business School (International Business ‘07), Harvard Business School (Marketing Strategy ‘09, Program for Leadership Development ‘10).
In 2008, he started PLG Clean Energy, an independent Renewable Energy Power Producer which is working towards developing sustainable and affordable solar plants in India. This continues to be functional.
Anmol, on the other hand, completed his BTech from the University of Petroleum and Energy studies, while his brother, Puneet, has a BTech in Chemical Engineering from IIT-Roorkee.
The duo formed the Gensol group, a company working in the space of renewable design, engineering, and project management in 2007. Under the Gensol group, several smaller business establishments like Solarig Gensol, and Ezysolare, were founded, and Puneet continues to be the Director in most of these companies.
Punit met the brothers in 2012 and kept in touch. The fact that all three men were already working in the clean energy space led to some bigger discussions around their shared vision. Eventually, Blu Smart came to be founded under Gensol Mobility Private Limited.
Sailing through hurdles and looking forward
Having worked in the sustainable energy sector for so long, Punit says that there were hardly any challenges they faced when they started Blu Smart.
“Since we are not first-time entrepreneurs, it wasn’t too difficult for us to deal with operational challenges. One problem, however, that we often face is that there is a lack of understanding and awareness around clean energy which in turn affects its adoption among the masses,” he says.
However, Punit points out that over time, he has seen a gradual improvement and is hopeful that one day, this aspect would not be a challenge for them.
Regardless, Blu Smart’s services have grabbed the attention of a lot of people and prominent VCs who have invested in the startup. One of the most famous names backing them is actor, Deepika Padukone, who has invested in the e-mobility venture with the idea of women’s safety in mind.
So, what do the coming months have in store for Blu Smart?
By the end of February, Blu Smart wants to complete 20,000 rides, and by March, they want to touch the 50,000 mark and have 850+ cars in their current fleet, which stands at 366.
“We want to continue on our goal of addressing the problem of rising environmental pollution by improving our e-mobility services. In the future, we also want to address the issue of women’s safety and ensure more women get access to safe transport services. With time, we are learning more and believe in the new age mobility,” says Punit signing off.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)