Startup Street: Mobike Follows Rival Ofo To India

This week on Startup Street, Chinese bicycle sharing startup Mobike enters India; a one-year old startup looking to capitalise on India’s underserved feminine hygiene market with its environment-friendly products; co-creator of Android may be gearing up to sell his smartphone startup.

Here’s what went on:

China’s Mobike Enters India
App-based bicycle sharing platform Mobike has forayed into India by launching its services in Pune, nearly five months after rival Ofo ventured into the country.

The Beijing-headquartered startup has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pune Municipal Corporation, in line with the municipality’s ambitious ‘Pune Cycle Plan’ launched in 2016, according to its press release. “The focus is on the development of a sustainable urban transportation system and smart city solution to reduce traffic congestion,” it said.

Mobike will offer its iconic orange bikes in the Kothrud suburb of Pune that boasts of dedicated cycle lanes. It will initially charge Rs 10 for a 20-minute ride. That’s a promotional price. The regular price has not been disclosed yet.

The Tencent-backed startup has also partnered the Bhubaneswar Development Authority and will provide 2,000 GPS-fitted bicycles, which will be made available before the Hockey World Cup, scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar from November 28 this year, the authority’s Vice Chairman Krishan Kumar told reporters earlier this month.

To use the service, users will have to download the Mobike app, register and scan the QR code on the bicycle. The bikes will be equipped with GPS and a smart-lock technology. Scanning the QR code will instantly unlock it.

“Having lived in India for several years, I can fully appreciate the positive impact that a smart bicycle share culture will bring to the residents here,” said Mark Lin, head of international operations of Mobike, in the release. “Our rollout in Pune is just the start of this journey.”

Alibaba-backed Ofo launched its services in seven cities in January. Till last year, Mobike and Ofo investors were in talks to push China’s two largest bike-sharing startups into a merger, aimed at ending a costly competitive battle. Instead, they took their battle overseas. With India, Mobike enters its 17th country of operations.

In the bicycle sharing space in India currently, ride hailing startup Ola offers Ola Pedals targeted at technology parks and universities. Ford-backed Zoomcar has a rental service called PEDL and has deployed over 3,000 bicycles across three cities. In December, Amit Gupta, co-founder of InMobi, stepped down to start his own cycle-sharing company Yulu.

Carmesi To Capitalise On India’s Under-Serviced Menstrual Hygiene Market
Carmesi, a bio-degradable sanitary napkin maker, expects an eightfold increase in its revenue for the ongoing financial year, in an underserved feminine hygiene market.

The startup is growing at the rate of 30 percent month-on-month. It expects to boost its revenue to Rs 8 crore by March 2019 from Rs 1 crore at the end of March 2018, Founder and Chief Executive Officer Tanvi Johri told BloombergQuint.

Carmesi’s napkins are made from the antibacterial, absorbent and plant-based fibres of corn and bamboo. It offers monthly home delivery service, attractive packaging and disposable systems.

India is one of the least penetrated markets for menstrual hygiene—even less than Kenya at just 20 percent, Johri said. In comparison, China stands at around 70 percent. Several other brands are now trying to address this issue. The government has also launched the Suvidha scheme at over 3,200 centers to make biodegradable pads available at an affordable price. The market is expected to be valued at more than Rs 3,500 crore ($522 million) by 2020, she said.

Carmesi is a premium brand aimed at both tier 1 and 2 cities. Its all-natural chemical-free products prevent infections, allergies and skin rashes, Johri said.

Proper disposal of sanitary wastes is crucial. A Carmesi pad takes 6-12 months to completely degenerate compared to synthetic napkins that can take 800-900 years.

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