Among their previous work experiences, Chinmay Malaviya and Charlie Depman can list Lime, Scoot and Bird – three of the most well-known micromobility firms in the world.
Not content with just letting you share e-scooters, e-bikes, and everything in between, they’ve decided to now shift their focus to selling you them.
Malaviya and Depman have now founded Ridepanda, an online marketplace for e-rides of all kinds. Launched late last month on September 23rd, the company puts customers in touch with the best the e-mobility market has to offer, providing guidance and expert recommendations based on years of experience in this field.
The site offers a handpicked selection of e-bikes, e-mopeds and e-scooters, along with essential add-ons including financing, warranties and personalized customer services, making it the first online marketplace of its kind, one that is fully dedicated to electric micromobility solutions.
“Our goal is to replace car usage and car ownership with climate-friendly and sustainable vehicle options,” said Chinmay Malaviya, co-founder and CEO of Ridepanda.
“To shift away from cars and to new modes of mobility, we are building simple and easy-to-use online infrastructure reminiscent of an online car dealership,” said Charlie Depman, co-founder and CTO of Ridepanda. “We believe that e-rides can be a beloved replacement for the car if the user experience for discovery, purchase and support is simple and transparent.”
To help improve the customer experience, Ridepanda offers some options, including an easy-to-use Ridefinder quiz, which helps consumers unlock the best vehicle option for their price range, usage and mileage. A rubric score, that gives a rating for durability, performance, reparability, safety and sustainability, is provided with each product as an additional vetting data point. Upon purchase, Ridepanda also offers ownership support including financing, insurance, assembly and repairs.
“We’ve seen like a Cambrian explosion of different vehicle types; there are literally hundreds of options out there,” Depman told TechCrunch. “If you go on Amazon[‘s] website, you’re going to see 150-plus in each category, and it’s really hard to sift through them. So what we’ve been building on the back end is a vetting system.”
“[These manufacturers] are competing in a wild, wild West,” Malaviya told The Verge. “Every day there is a new Kickstarter campaign. Why is my product better? They’re all tooting their own horn… What we do is say, ‘Hey, these are the best ones.’”
COVID-19’s impact on the micromobility sector – Sharing is down, sales are up
While the micromobility sharing economy has faced some regulatory challenges in the Middle East, with the rental of electric scooters being temporarily banned in the UAE, save for Abu Dhabi, the international market’s current challenges stem mostly from the COVID-19 pandemic, as entire populations found themselves stuck in lockdown. Additionally, many people today would rather not share any vehicles amidst a raging pandemic.
E-bike sales, however, didn’t face a similar fate.
People are “wary of crowded public transit and facing less congestion from commuting cars,” which is leading them to “adopt new ways of getting around,” Axios explains.
To that end, e-rides are the perfect solution. They’re more expensive than public transport, but cheaper in the long-run, especially if you compare it with the fees you’d be paying a ride-sharing micromobility firm over a period of a few years.
“The global pandemic has transformed the way people think about travel, including micromobility. The short-term consequences have been profound, with micromobility declining as people reassess their transportation options [especially when sharing],” McKinsey notes. “However, given current consumer sentiment, policy actions, and the potential for upside, we expect the industry to emerge stronger from this crisis.”