Sustaining First-Last Mobility During Pandemic

It is essential that we use what we have learned from the pandemic to create a better and more sustainable world

Sustaining First-Last Mobility During Pandemic
Sustaining First-Last Mobility During Pandemic

The pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on not only businesses and governments but also humanity as a whole. In its wake, it has taught everyone plenty of lessons. From a business perspective, there have been two distinct stages of impact: the first and second waves. And while, in essence, both were similar for having been declared suddenly, from the point of view of being prepared for them, the two were very different. Various sectors came to a grinding halt during both the lockdowns, but the impact of the halt was very different between the two.

The Indian mobility sector, which was projected to grow by $90 billion by 2030, is one such sector. Essentially, during the lockdowns, the sector has done zero rides. Going with the trend, many expected various players in the sector to shut shop. However, this was not the case. Many of the first-last mile mobility players used the first lockdown to pivot or add more to their offerings, which allowed them to sustain their business. By the time the second lockdown rolled around, new business offerings were a well-oiled machine that allowed these players to flourish. What was it that helped the mobility industry not only sustain but also flourish post the lockdowns?

Flexibility and Nimbleness

It is quite easy to get stuck with a challenge, to focus on what could go wrong and what is not right rather than what could help to overcome the challenge. Many first-last mile mobility players, especially start-ups, were able to adapt, evolve and grow in real-time, owing to the nimbleness and flexibility of their business model. A lot of players pivoted in the pandemic, for instance players like Vogo and Bounce were offering their scooters to various delivery executives for last-mile delivery. This shift allowed mobility players to not only sustain their business during the first wave but also flourish.

Scale using EVs

Most first-last mile mobility start-ups are centred on fuel-driven fleets. The first lockdown allowed them to focus on this non-sustainable aspect in the existing infrastructure and weave a solution to bridge it. In the wake of the first lockdown, the mobility sector witnessed a sharp pivot to either EVs. Many mobility players took the opportunity of lockdown to sell their fuel-driven fleet and increase the number of EVs in their fleet, while others took this as an opportunity to help strengthen EV infrastructure. Ola plans to build a comprehensive charging network to help ramp up the adoption of EV by creating the world's largest and densest two-wheeler charging network. For others, focusing on battery swapping infrastructure is going to be the way forward.

The Team is a Family

The team forms a strong support system in challenging times. It is the lynchpin to success. The proverb 'none of us is as strong as all of us' holds true every time. Each person in a team is likely to have a key piece to the puzzle that usually leads to the strategy which helps the start-up to overcome challenges. Always remember that compassion goes a long way to boost morale and fight crises together. But most of all, problem-solving needs to be an integral part of a start-up’s culture.

As life slowly but steadily heads back to normal, the learnings from lockdowns and the pandemic continue. It is key that we use what we have learned from the pandemic to create a better and more sustainable world.

The authors are Founders, Oye! Rickshaw

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author’s own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

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October 2021

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