All of us are aware of the consequences we are facing because of climate change. Air pollution, water pollution, sound pollution, etc. are at their peak and will only worsen from here. Modern tech companies are coming up with innovations that can help us heal our planet and to reduce the effects of air pollution, the best way would be to switch to electric vehicles.
“Exter” is a company addressing the problem of air pollution by revolutionizing the automobile industry with the introduction of battery swapping stations and an EV marketplace. “Exter” wants to make sure that the people are aware of the benefits of electric mobility and contribute to healing the earth.
Team Sociobits connected with the co-founders of Exter, Mr. Abhilash D V, and Mr. Preetham Hegde to know more about the company.
About the co-founders:
Preetham is a software architect who has been a part of the fintech industry for more than 15 years and has been involved in the development of risk engines and wallet applications. He also loves to solve consumer problems by developing solutions that would be convenient for them.
Abhilash comes from the automobile industry. He is a mechanical engineer with fifteen years of experience in the field. At Exter, he primarily takes care of sales, marketing, and operations.
Team Sociobits: Could you tell us a little about Exter?
Co-Founders: “Exter”, the name of the company has been coined by combining two words; the first two letters of EXit and the last three letters of enTER. Keeping in mind that through Exter, we would like to do anything and everything for healing Earth, we decided to start by addressing the problem of air pollution and we chose to begin with mobility. We got inspired when we got to drive the electric scooter of a friend of ours and what attracted us the most is that the electric scooter causes zero pollution and has a lot of advantages with it. We have developed a very cost-effective and durable battery-swapping solution.
Team Sociobits: Could you explain in layman’s language what Exter exactly does?
Co-Founders: We are lowering the cost of owning an electric two-wheeler by allowing you to buy electric scooters without batteries from multiple electric two-wheeler manufacturers and power them with our battery subscription and swapping services. Essentially, we sell their scooters with our battery subscription and swapping service to customers.
With battery swapping, we want to eliminate range anxiety. Range anxiety is the fear of sudden battery drain while driving an electric vehicle.
Team Sociobits: When did you start the journey of Exter?
Co-Founders: We started with Exter around three years ago. It began when Preetham and I got a chance to drive our friend’s electric scooter and the moment we drove, we found it very peppy to drive around. It was a really great experience and that’s when we got to talking about why there is no adoption for these vehicles. When we dwelled into it further, we realized that there are certain problems that need to be addressed like the cost of the vehicle being extremely high and range anxiety.
So, we decided to build Exter around this. We have an in-house developed battery-swapping station and we also have an online portal where you can buy electric scooters from multiple OEMs without batteries. You can simply rent a battery that helps to offset the cost and give you the confidence to drive an electric scooter anywhere.
In the initial days, we spoke to around 500-1000 customers just to understand the problem they are facing. During the COVID days, we used to call contacts that we received from the dealers and ask about their experience to build a viable offering around it. We were also looking to understand why users are not buying bikes i.e. what is the major challenge that they are facing. So, you can say that we are building Exter with a very ‘customer-focused’ model. As our tagline goes, ‘Nurturing Electric Mobility’ we focus on creating a shift in the mindset of the people, where they choose an electric vehicle over a petrol vehicle.
Team Sociobits: How has your journey with Exter been so far? Can you point out some of the challenges that you have faced during your journey?
Co-Founders: Of course, we faced a lot of challenges. We think it was more on the side of understanding the problem than building a solution for it. For example, when we were building the battery-swapping station, it was an easy option for us to import a battery-swapping station, but it would have not solved the problem we heard from customers, and hence opted to build on our own.
Challenges actually helped us to grow a lot because when we faced them, we were constantly looking to build a solution for that. We also faced the challenge of an electric chip shortage that was necessary to build our battery-swapping station.
There was also a little resistance when it came to onboarding the OEMs but when they looked at the advantage of Exter, in a span of a couple of months, we onboarded four OEMs. A very interesting thing we would like to point out is that initially, we didn’t spend at all on marketing and we only built an experience center with our kiosk in Bengaluru. Through this, we managed to close around 500 sign-ups. People were curious about our product and some of them couldn’t believe that a solution like this is coming into the market.
Team Sociobits: If people start choosing electric vehicles over vehicles that are run on fuel, what difference does it make to the environment?
Co-Founders: We can explain this to you from two perspectives. The biggest disadvantage of a petrol vehicle is the pollution that it causes. So, every litre of petrol has around 87% of carbon in it. Whereas electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. On the other hand, the efficiency at which electric vehicles deliver power to the wheels is much higher.
Petrol vehicles also have a lot of recurring costs that come attached to them and electric vehicles don’t have these. For example, Tesla cars have only 18 moving parts so you can imagine the number of moving parts in an electric scooter will be lesser. To explain it simply, fewer moving parts means less internal friction which ultimately means less maintenance required.
Also, if you look at the running cost per kilometer of a petrol vehicle, compared to the electric vehicle, you will see a huge difference. So, from the environmental perspective, there are zero tailpipe emissions; for the customer, close to zero maintenance; and the cost of operation is very less.
Team Sociobits: There are OEMs already present in the market. Why would people choose Exter?
Co-Founders: We are not manufacturing scooters, we empower OEMs with our battery subscription and swapping service. People particularly choose Exter because they get the advantage of buying an electric scooter from our portal without batteries from multiple OEMs. If you buy an electric vehicle from any OEM or a dealer, 40% of the vehicle’s cost is because of the battery whereas, with Exter, you can buy the scooter without a battery and rent it from us. Thereby, you will be offsetting the battery-ownership cost. Also, the life of a battery starts deteriorating after a while. So, what happens is after a while even after fully charging a vehicle, the rider will not feel the acceleration of power and the driving range.
So, what customers can do is book a scooter from Exter, rent our battery, and experience the performance of a fresh battery across the subscription period. A battery that performs as well as new and you need not worry about warranty as we give you ‘an unlimited warranty’. In simple words, the hassle of battery maintenance is on us.
Another thing that you should note is when EV vehicle adoption takes place in the world, by 2025, there will be around 700 tons of used lithium-ion batteries in the open environment. For this, we are taking the responsibility of re-cycling these batteries to get them back into the circle. We will not let these batteries pollute the environment and this is something that we are doing for society. So, this is like a complete solution from reducing the tail-pipe emission to taking care of the discarded batteries also.
Team Sociobits: Are there any potential competitors of Exter?
Co-Founders: There are a few players in the market. Since we are operating in the Bengaluru market, our prime competitor would be Bounce Infinity. Bounce has its own scooter and swapping network. But Exter provides flexibility by providing a swapping network for every electric scooter manufacturer so manufacturers and customers get the freedom to choose what they like.
Team Sociobits: Are there any goals that you have set to be achieved this year? What is your roadmap for the future?
Co-Founders: As of now, we are looking to set up three hundred swapping stations in Bengaluru for which we have approval from the Bengaluru BBMP to set up stations on all the footpaths of Bengaluru. We will then expand it to other cities. In the long run, we want to make sure that we are offsetting the carbon footprint and doing our bit to heal Earth.
We would like to tell people to nurture electric mobility because it is a conscious choice that people should take to reduce the tailpipe emission. It should be a conscious decision that we make today for our future generations. Even if we replace one petrol vehicle with an electric vehicle, we can make a huge difference in the environment. We cannot change things in a jiff but we can empower people to make decisions that could heal mother Earth. We should remember that we don’t have a Planet B; we only have this planet so let us try to heal it.’
Team Sociobits: Any grants or recognition you have earned?
Co-Founders: We were recognized as a ‘Top 50 Startup’ from BITS Pilani in Conquest 2020. Recently we received Grant from Karnataka Startup.
Exter is set to heal the earth and introduce the EV revolution in India. With the installation of battery swapping stations and an EV marketplace, the adaptation process of electric vehicles becomes easy.