Bounce Layoff: Bike Rental Startup To Pivot Into New Vertical

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Bike-rental startup Bounce has laid off a massive chunk of its workforce in a bid to survive amid continued low demand for shared mobility 11 months post the pandemic fuelled lockdowns.

According to people in the know, Wickedride Adventure Services – the company that own and operates Bounce – has let go of 40%-60% (200 people) of their staff. It is the second major round of layoffs by the on-demand two-wheeler service provider Bounce.

In June, Bounce laid off 22% of their workforce – 130 employees to be precise – reducing its total headcount to 470 employees. The latest round of layoff is estimated to have further affected 200 or more employees at all levels.

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Sources familiar with this development revealed that the company offered 3-months service pay along with medical benefits included for the end of the year to all of their laid-off employees.

Bounce’s Road To Revival: Pivoting Into EV Two-Wheeler Mobility Solutions

In a statement addressing the recent layoff, the Co-founder and CEO of Bounce Vivekananda Hallekere said that the previous year affected the mobility sector more than any other industry. Thus, given how disastrous 2020 has been, the company will increasingly focus on EV two-wheeler mobility – a decision that has affected a few employees at Bounce.

One of Bounce’s top executives mentioned that the company has $70 million in cash from its previous fundraising activity, which the company aims to utilise to pivot into the electric vehicle business.

Hallekere also mentioned that for a smooth transition the company isn’t pushing its laid-off employees into an uncertain employment landscape. Instead, they are working on getting their employees placed in other organisations.

One of the affected employees said that Bounce’s HR department has been diligently calling everyone and asking where they would prefer working—based on the response, forwarding their CVs to those companies.

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In the last few months, Wickedride Adventure Services has sold off most of its petrol operated scooters and now planning to roll out a complete fleet of EVs. The company said it would be kicking off its venture into the EV space by first releasing an in-house developed electric scooter which will be made available to their platform in the next 7-10 days.

Sources revealed that Bounce has currently shut down its operations in all major cities except for Bengaluru, which will serve as its pilot city for unveiling its EVs that have far less running costs that their previous petrol-operated scooters.

Note here that this isn’t the first time the company has pivoted into an adjacent vertical. In 2014, Wickedride Adventure Services started as a rental service for high-end bikes or motorcycles. But soon, under the brand Metro Bikes, it pivoted into a bicycle and then scooter sharing service. Later in 2018, the company decided to unveil their dock-less scooter sharing model and then rebranded to Bounce.

Thus, while it is well-known that the startup is quite used to tweaking its business model and making necessary changes based on consumer demand, it now remains to be seen if their bet on EV mobility solutions will pay off.

The Indian electric vehicle (EV) market is still in its nascent stage. But it is anticipated to register a 20% CAGR during the forecast period 2020 – 2025 as the GOI has undertaken many initiatives to promote the use of electric vehicles in the country.

One such important initiative is the scheme named ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India Phase II’ that the Union Cabinet approved in 2019 to promote electric mobility in India.

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