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Goa-based BLive is accelerating adoption of EVs

Samarth Kholkar and Sandeep Mukherjee, friends for over two decades, met in Pune before they started their MBA course. 

Sandeep went on to work in the global marketing planning and strategy function at Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, Finland and later took up a similar role at Microsoft. Samarth, meanwhile, started working for a company in Goa and later joined IBM in Bengaluru, where he led multiple businesses for over a decade. 

The duo stayed in touch, discussing ideas that “would have an impact”. 

Sandeep returned to India in 2016 and connected with Samarth. They both felt strongly about the increasing pollution and the impact it had on Jamshedpur (Sandeep’s hometown) and Goa (Samarth’s hometown). 

The many conversations led them to a decision: to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in India.

In 2018, the duo founded BLive, a travel tech platform that offers guided, experiential tours on electric bikes and aims to promote sustainable tourism. The platform uses smart electric bikes to give tourists a new experience of the culture and heritage of a destination. 

The founders initially invested about Rs 30 lakh each from their personal savings to kick-start the startup.

In 2020, the startup ventured beyond tours and launched an online multi-brand EV marketplace, offering e-cycles and e-scooters from brands like Hero Electric, Ampere, Go Zero, and Lightspeed, to name a few. In 2021, BLive opened its first offline retail store.

Four years down the line, BLive has made an impact. It has sold more than 2,000 EVs in the last six months, earning a margin of 10–15% from vehicle sales and other services. B2B sales contribute to 30% of its business. 

The startup, which has conducted over 30,000 tours, has provided EV solutions to brands such as Salarpuria Sattva, Wellness Forever, FAE Bikes, and Club Mahindra. 

BLive has grown 1000%, or 10X, in the last four quarters and has recorded 16X growth in revenue. 

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What does BLive offer?

BLive is a multi-brand EV retail platform with an online as well as an offline presence.  It offers electric two and electric 3-wheelers, charging infrastructure, EV finance, insurance, EV fleet management services, roadside assistance, and other related services. 

“Our online platform helps consumers choose the right EV. We also help enterprises keen to either electrify their delivery fleet or offer their employees EVs to achieve their goal of driving clean mobility by offering an end-to-end EV solution,” Samarth says.

BLive says it’s the first omnichannel multi-brand EV platform with a digital store and multiple experience stores across India. 

The experience stores work on a franchise model, allowing customers to look at the EVs, buy them, and access after-sales support.

“We offer a single EV platform for individuals and enterprises. It is a one-stop shop for all EV solutions. Our experience-to-commerce platform helps customers adopt sustainable mobility solutions,” Samarth says.

The startup, which has over 16 stores in Goa, Maharashtra, Hyderabad, Kerala, and Karnataka, aims to bring together the entire EV ecosystem of manufacturers, finance partners, and service partners on one platform. 

The founder says India’s two-wheeler market sells about 2.2 crore units every year, of which EVs comprise about 1%.

He sees three problems in the adoption of EVs: awareness, accessibility, and affordability. 

“BLive is addressing these by offering consumers a choice of EVs, expertise, and ease of ownership. We have multiple various options of ownership through loans, subscriptions, leases, etc.” he adds.

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How does BLive work?

BLive operates as a B2B and B2C platform that offers end-to-end solutions. 

It offers around 50-plus brands, including Hero Lectro, Lightspeed, and Go Zero, among others, and has a network of 20 multibrand EV stores across 10 cities.

“We are now focused on Tier II and Tier III cities where we feel the real India growth story for EVs exists. Enterprises across India have been reaching out to us to help them electrify their fleet and also help their employees transition to electric,” he adds.

The startup’s two-wheeler partners are Kinetic Green, Ampere, Boom Motors, Dexpress, Miracle, Techno Electra, Esprinto, BattRE, Cosbike, Athre, BGAUSS, Odysse, and Gemopai, to name a few. 

“On the services side, we have partnered with charging providers like Bolt, Chargerz, and roadside assistance providers like Ready Assist, SpareIt, and finance providers, among others,” says Samarth.

Its three-wheeler partners are Euler, Omega Seiki Mobility, Mahindra Electric, Save Electric, and Piaggio Vehicles India, and it has tied up with IDFC, Kotak, Bajaj Finserv, HDFC, ICICI, Zest, Pine Labs, Loan Tap, and Manappuram for finance. Insurance partners include Reliance, Kotak, Go Digit, and HDFC Ergo.

The startup also continues to offer EV tours in various locations in India such as Coorg, Madikaeri, Pondicherry, Ooty, and Goa. “The e-bike tours offer an immersive experience into the local culture of these locations,” Samarth says.

The duration of each tour spans 2-2.5 hours and it is priced at Rs 2,000 per person. 

The startup has been associated with Goa Tourism for 20 years as their official EV Tourism Partner. “Our e-bike tours were launched in association with the Goa government to give an impetus to promoting green mobility in Goa,” Samarth says.

In March 2021, BLive raised $1 million in a pre-Series A round from LetsVenture, Mumbai Angels, JITO Angel Network, and Credit Wise Capital.

The startup plans to raise Series A funding in the next two to three months.

BLive, which employs 50 people, plans to onboard over 100 brands by the end of this year. 

Revenue model

BLive has four revenue streams – Direct Sales, Enterprise  Sales, Sales from BLive Experience Stores, and EV tours. It earns a margin of 10–15% from vehicle sales and other services. Its B2B sales contribute to 30% of its business.

The founder declined to disclose revenue numbers. 

According to Mordor Intelligence, the Indian EV market was valued at $7,025.56 million in 2021, and is expected to reach $30,414.83 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 28.93% in terms of revenue during 2022–2027.

The market is cluttered with EV brands, and BLive competes with single-brand stores of electric two-wheel manufacturers and online discovery platforms like BikeDekho.

The way ahead

BLive plans to open 50 new EV Experience Stores by the end of 2022. It will be adding e3Ws, charging partners, and finance partners and plans to have at least 100 partners by the end of the year.

It plans to introduce some unique experiences to make the EV buying experience more immersive. An exchange and upgrade programme is also on the anvil for the upcoming festive season.

“We aim to create 5,000 new EV users by the end of this FY,” the founder says.  

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