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An interview with Ashish Aggarwal, Founder & CEO of VA-YU

On Friday Afternoon, Ashish Aggarwal, Founder & CEO of VA-YU sat down with the TechGraph editorial team for a wide-ranging interview. We discussed the VA-YU journey, the impact of COVID-19 on EV rental services, and more.

Read complete interview:

TechGraph: How did VA-YU transpire?

Ashish Aggarwal: I came back to India in 2017 and I was shocked by the pollution levels in our cities. Our country was making global headlines for its pollution. This was not the future our parents saw for us or we see for our children, surely, we can do something about it. 

Our research showed us that vehicular pollution was a big factor in most polluted cities, especially Delhi NCR, and within that two-wheelers surprisingly hogged a major share. Thus, it became obvious that targeting this segment for a shift to EV was key to tackling the pollution problem.

TechGraph: Could you walk us through the key services offered by VA-YU?

Ashish Aggarwal: At VA-YU we are looking to revolutionize how e-scooters are owned and maintained. Our mission is to enable the spread of EVs to the masses. We do this by offering E-scooters on rent, lease, as well as offer all kinds of repair and maintenance services at the customers’ doorsteps. 

Our rental plans make it very affordable for consumers to avail e-scooters, while our doorstep service and all-inclusive plans make it very simple for people to join the EV revolution. Going forward we are adding more options and more ways of using EV’s to make it even easier for people to shift.

TechGraph: What is the state of EV-focused rental service providers in the Indian market?

Ashish Aggarwal: India has close to 20 crore two-wheelers and a large number of these will be replaced by electric two-wheelers in the coming years and further a significant chunk of that will be rentals. The demand for rental EVs already far outstrips the supply. 

On the service providers side, the market is still nascent and though a few start-ups are working in the field with small fleets, very few companies are working with the proper technology backbone and the proper service network. Add to that since people use these vehicles for their livelihood, the vehicles need to work 24×7 and hardly anybody provides that kind of assurance. 

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At VA-YU our focus right from the start has been around service quality and thanks to our relentless service team, our customers are very satisfied with us and we have a loyal customer base with us today.

TechGraph: With the COP26 rollout process speeding up, How is VA-YU going to capitalize on the same?

Ashish Aggarwal: COP26 has refocused the world towards sustainability. While the conference focussed on energy generation as the root problem, for India the EV policy was a showcase initiative to show our seriousness towards sustainability goals. 

India may not be able to commit to aggressive targets in the power sector and to offset that mobility sector can contribute to emissions reduction. 

For VA-YU it means that our mission to enable the shift to EV is very important and that we are part of a national mission. It also means that our sector is under the increased attention of both the government and private sector players.

TechGraph: How is the response so far of your e-Scooter rental service?

Ashish Aggarwal: We have seen a very strong response to our service in Delhi NCR. We are fully booked and are running with waiting lists most of the time. We have a 300 strong fleet out on the roads today, and utilization levels have been at 97 percent. So much so, that we are not even trying to go for the short-term, hourly, or daily rental market as of now. 

With rentals ranging from Rs. 3069 to 3599 per month (depending on the rental duration), our offer has been good enough to require virtually no marketing, with word of mouth doing the job for us. In between the pandemic in a year, VA-YU has grown its fleet size 6x and the revenue has grown rapidly and VA-YU’s users have touched the milestone of 20,00,000 Km. In The Past Year, VA-YU EVs have made a meaningful impact on Delhi’s environment.

TechGraph: What is the roadmap for VA-YU going forward?

Ashish Aggarwal: VA-YU has grown 8 folds over the last 14 months despite the two waves of lockdowns. Having started during adverse market conditions, we have built the resilience and the persistence of a marathon runner. We are targeting 10,000 vehicles on the roads within the next 1 year. 

We are looking to cater to the primarily Delhi NCR market for the next few months as the demand for our service is very strong. Early next year we will be expanding our services into a few other select markets. We are in our Pre-series A currently and are seeing very strong investor interest in our business model. We will close within the next 1-2 months and will move on from there.

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