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Exclusive: Bike taxi startup Hey Bob halts operations on fund crunch

Vishal Kumar BM, CEO & Founder, HeyBob

Vishal Kumar BM, CEO & Founder, HeyBob

Hey Bob, Bengaluru’s first bike taxi firm, has suspended operations barely a year after launching its services due to a shortage of funds, a co-founder told TechCircle.

“We had to stop because of lack of funds. It is not that we have shut down but we have stopped operations for some time now,” said Vishal Kumar BM.

The startup, operated by Helion Technologies Pvt. Ltd, had secured an undisclosed amount in angel funding last year. It was operational in Mumbai and Bengaluru and had around 500 riders.

Kumar said the company had stopped its business-to-consumer services a month ago and has now also suspended its business-to-business operations.

“The B2B segment was profitable for us,” said Kumar. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t raise the next round of funding. We are talking to a few investors, but nothing has materialised yet.”

Hey Bob was founded by techies Vishal Kumar BM, Girish Kumar SN, Vinay Kumar Reddy and Suman Kundu. Girish Kumar has left the startup to join software firm Intuit. Another co-founder has moved on from the company, said Kumar, without disclosing the name.

India is one of the world’s largest two-wheeler markets and the on-demand bike taxi segment exploded over the past year. As many as 40 app-based companies are estimated to have started operations in various cities. These include MTaxi, Bikxie, Baxi, TuWheelz, Mobike, NOW and Rapido.

Earlier this year, Bike taxi and hyperlocal delivery app NOW secured $500,000 (Rs 3.35 crore) in angel funding from Jaipuria Group’s managing director Ruchirans Jaipuria and Supreme Motors’ director Anuj Sanghi.

Bengaluru-based Rapido raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A round of funding from investors including Hero MotoCorp Ltd chairman Pawan Munjal and Google India managing director Rajan Anandan in April. Baxi had raised $1.4 million last year in seed funding from a group of affluent individuals.

US-based cab-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc and its main Indian rival Ola have also started bike taxi services. UberMOTO, the bike taxi service of Uber, is operational in Gurgaon and Ahmedabad while Ola Bike is functional only in Gurgaon.

Uber and Ola had launched bike taxi services in Bengaluru as well but had to withdraw soon after the launch due to regulatory problems. The state government cracked down on the two companies on the ground that, as per the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, enforced in Karnataka, a two-wheeler is considered to be private transport and that bike taxis need to be licensed for commercial use.

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