Sunday, March 3, 2024

Revamp Moto: Pritesh Mahajan shares his Shark Tank India experience and the journey

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As the world continues to shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly solutions, electric vehicles have become an increasingly popular option for commuters and vehicle enthusiasts alike. One company that has been at the forefront of this movement is Revamp Moto, a leading electric vehicle manufacturing company founded by Pritesh Mahajan. With a focus on innovation, quality, and affordability, Revamp Moto has quickly made a name for itself in the EV industry. In this interview, we have the privilege of speaking with Pritesh Mahajan to learn more about their journey, vision, and future of electric vehicles.

Also, Revamp Moto was featured on Shark Tank India. The Sharks were impressed with the company’s vision and commitment to sustainability, and they were particularly interested in EVs. After a heated bidding war, Pritesh was able to secure a deal, which has helped to propel Revamp Moto to even greater heights. Today, Revamp Moto continues to revolutionize the electric vehicle industry, and their success on Shark Tank India has helped to bring their cutting-edge technology to an even wider audience.

So, let’s dive into the interview and hear about his overall experience and his journey by himself.

A small introduction about yourself

Hello, everyone. I am Pritesh Mahajan and personally about me, I’m a mechanical engineer. I have done my MBA from I.M Sambalpur, after which I did my second master’s in renewable energy from the UK. And after that, I work at the State Bank of India for three years, which is where after that I met my co-founders, Jayesh and Pushkar, which gradually started to rebound you must have seen us at Shark Tank India.

How was the overall experience at Sharktank India?

So Shark tank experience, I would say, was fantastic. It was something that we did not expect to turn out this well because when we were doing preparations for the Shark Tank episode, we were just preparing for the worst-case scenario, just in case like, what questions they might ask after one another. We were just preparing for that. But then when we actually entered and when we presented our pitch when we presented our idea and we spoke to them, we were happy to see that sharks were sold on the concept, the idea and the entire pitch. And then they started fighting. And then it was like the best-case scenario that a startup can expect for, you know, looking at the investors fighting to make a chunk of the company. So they’re doing something out of the way, I would say.

After the Sharktank, was this thing beneficial for you? Also was it unexpected?

Yes. I know, Shark Tank actually helped us. First of all, I still remember it was 24 December just an evening before Christmas. This was 24 December 2021 when the Shark Tank episode aired. And from that time, my phone, my partner Jayesh’s phone and Pushkar’s phone started buzzing continuously. We had hundreds and thousands of messages. We had thousands of calls. And I still remember, I think in the span of 15 days, I received more than a thousand calls. I received around 2000 plus messages on WhatsApp specifically. And it was a very hard time for us to cater to all such love from all across India. And on our website, we had a sudden jump in traffic and then we had a section on our website which was to show interest in buying our vehicle which was launched. So we had around 10 thousand leads showing PAN India.  So it was very fantastic. And apart from this, that was from the individual perspective side. But when we are actually talking from the company’s perspective side, we also worked on a B2B, which is business-to-business. And we are actually putting through a couple of other businesses and maybe trying to solve their problems. So in that case, it actually gave us the credibility that we went on Shark Tank. We have such a concept which is actually, you know, solving some problem in someone else’s business, basically. And that is something that gave us credibility. The Shark Tank stage, gave us an opportunity to talk to these clients and a couple of business development managers from these companies started reaching out to us. And of course, we have this kind of problem at our company that we cannot solve, can you customize a vehicle for our specific requirements? So that is where the entire shark Tank had made us reach and they have sort of helped us.

What inspired you to start an electric vehicle manufacturing company?

So as I mentioned, I has a couple of other start-ups previously, I was trying to work on, you know, medicine delivery, And apart from that, I also tried working on a couple of other little ideas of my own. But then I realized that I was doing a full-time job and I could not get enough time for the idea that I wanted to work on that I was passionate about. This is where I decided and in Covid, where I got an opportunity to come back to my home then I decided to leave this and thought it was time to say goodbye to a very peaceful job at SBI. And I wanted to start something of my own. Since I come from a business family, my father has been in the business for more than 30 years now. So I have always been inspired by his journey. And I always wanted to do something of my own, which is when I met two of my co-founders with the same thought process, who had that fire and that ability to do something of their own. And then we realized that we all are willing to work on these, but we do not have any prior background specifically. We were just passionate and Jayesh just had a specific prior background since one of his earlier start-ups was working on Evs. I was trying to do something at my own understanding, at my own level on electric cycles and also Jayesh had an understanding of electronics, which is where we realized, that why can’t we join our hands together and why can’t we work as a single entity instead of competing in such a small city as a competitor in a small city? So in that case, that is where we met and which is where we started the Revamp. The entire thought process of starting Revamp initially was we also started just like making any other company that makes two-wheelers. And then we realized it is the rat race that we, you know, we are trying to run into and we would not end up surviving in long term. So we shifted focus to solving a bigger problem in the industry, solving the problem of actually getting goods. And for people who want to actually use the two-wheelers more than just personal vehicles, but also cargo vehicles and help their businesses, is where Revamp came into the picture.

What are your future plans with Revamp Moto?

 So to talk about the future plans right now, we have already launched ‘Buddy’. In the very near future, I would say in the next 3 to 4 months, we are going to launch our, I would say, hero product, which is ‘Mitra’, which is the High-Speed Vehicle. And we are going to have multiple variants of Buddy and Mitra as well, depending on various customizations, depending on variants, power requirements, and various use cases that people require. Apart from this, we like to call ourselves a modular utility platform company, a company that is doing much more than just making electric vehicles. So we don’t like to call ourselves to be called as a two-wheel company. We are a platform company and considering the same concept, we do have plans of coming into three-wheel platforms as well. That would be, I would say, 6 to 8 months down the line. We have already started doing our market research. We already started doing our designing in-house. We have also started prototyping in-house for the Three-wheel platform. But I believe for the next 6 to 8 months they would focus on the two-wheel platform. But, once the dealership network and the service network are all set, we might start expanding our product line.

As we were researching, we came to know about you are only make in India thing. So shall we believe that there are no chances of you collaborating with any international brands?

See, there are definitely chances of us being an international company, we might definitely look at it. Sharing our technology or sharing someone else’s technology, bringing it to India, Right now, specifically, we are to the bone. We are a ‘make in India Company and I am very proud to say that’. Apart from cells actually everything is being sourced from India, we have local vendors. It is definitely a tedious task to develop all these vendors. Basically, there’s a good number of companies which are trying to make a quick buck in the EV industry by just importing vehicles from China, rebadging them and selling their brand name. It is not a sustainable way to do business. We are here for a longer game with the long-term game basically, and we want to actually, you know, stick to our ethics, which is where we have actually designed, manufactured and prototype these vehicles in-house and made-in-India using made-in-India. But I wouldn’t say that everything is in-house, most other things are designed in-house but since we don’t have the manufacturing capability, since we are a team of 40, 42 people, we have collaborated with other companies, and other start-ups to develop a couple of components. But more, I would say apart from sales, all the components are developed in-house or developed in India specifically.

Are people liking electric vehicles? How are people responding to modern technology?

So we recently made a market survey where we actually showcased our vehicles to the B2C customers. Around 500 of them, and people loved the vehicle, people loved the idea, because of that, it’s like a transformer that can convert from one use case to a different use case after 30 seconds. And you can also go from a personal use case, into a family vehicle to a business vehicle in under 30 seconds. So that entire concept is doing well. But to talk about EVs specifically, it does have a good future in India. And this we have validated from B2B customers as well. We have been talking to and working with a couple of brands right now. We have brands piled up with them and these brands are saving or going to save a good amount of money by switching from petrol vehicles to electric leaf. So for them, it’s a good profitability game. The cost of ownership definitely in the long term goes down. And I believe because of this and because of rising fuel prices, the switch to EVs is going to be prominent. And EVs are going to stay longer, I would say.

What challenges have you faced in the development and production of your electric vehicles?

So, I would say a start-up definitely, goes from various stages and in the life of a startup, every stage has its own challenge. So when we actually started the company, we had challenges first of all, they did not have the infrastructure, they did not have their team or we did not have the partnerships or their technology to make it. So whatever we tried to do, we tried to do from all the components that we could find out of the shell and we tried making it and host in our workshop. So to put into an example. So it was made out of just whatever was available to us, just as a proof of concept. So that was one good problem that we had when we raised actually when we went to Shark Tank and we raised funds, the next challenge was actually to talk to all these customers to keep them up to date and to ensure that these leads actually converted to orders for us.

That was another challenge. Now that we are in and are very close to actually starting delivering our vehicles from the next month, which is at the end of April, our new challenges are to source various components to line up the funding for the working capital to keep the production cycle rolling. So I would say there are various other challenges. We are actively increasing our team size from our team of 14 people when we were at Shark Tank. Right now are a team of around 42 people and we are expanding rapidly. We might go to a team of around 80-90 people in the next 5 to 6 months, I would say. So finding the right talent and bringing them into Tier Two city like Nashik is a big challenge that we are looking at. So I believe every challenge comes with its own fun and satisfaction to solve the problem. So it’s fun working on various challenges.

Do electric vehicles perform better or are more efficient than non-EVs?

So to put it in simple terms, let’s say, well, I would talk in terms of economics first, let’s say if there’s a petrol scooter and it would require to go for around 40, 50 kilometres, it would require auto fuel up 100 rs, which is approximately what, two and a half rupees, per km. That is the unit economics per KM. EVs will usually take 1/10 of that, so EVs take around 25 paise per kilometre. So that is how economical it is in terms of the long run. So if we are looking at a vehicle over a life span, if someone is going to ride a vehicle for one lakh kilometres, eventually they would end up saving 1.5 lakhs just in the fuel. Apart from the vehicle cost and even the battery swapping or battery changing cost which is being included in this, it will still be a good hefty 1.5 lakh rupees in terms of operations, in terms of performance EVs are more sorted since there are no much-moving parts, there are no much mechanical components that might fail. In terms of IC, there are a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of levers, there’s an engine which itself has hundreds of mechanisms. For it to work seamlessly, there are hundreds of points in this engine. Basically, so in that case, its motor is very straightforward. Basically, there’s a motor, there’s a chain or it’s a belt drive and let’s say it’s a battery pack that is going to give power. So the point of failure for it is very less. so in that case, in terms of usability, EVs would definitely win hands down on petrol way and it’s very simple. So it’s, it’s just an accelerator, there are only two buttons that it’s as simple as riding a scooter.

What is your company’s mission and vision for the future of electric transportation?

So I like to touch upon the vision first. So we are working on our vision to actually empower society. Our vision is built around society, how we can empower as a result, we can make a difference in someone’s life. We are aimed at ways that we are not only focused on the profits or the revenues and everything, we actually want to make a difference. We want to contribute to the economy, and to society by doing something which will impact our lives. So our vision statement is to empower society by providing sustainable and adaptive solutions, so the adaptive part is the key, basically, where we, you know, come as the more deliberate platform, which is which are built to adapt. And our mission is to offload around 2.5 lakh units of low-speed, high-speed, three-wheel, and two-wheel platforms by 2027, which will eventually impact 1 million lives. So again, 10 Lakh people we want to impact in the next 3 to 4 years, and I believe impacting those ten lakh people, I am looking at making them my brand ambassador. Basically, I want to actually make or bring revolution in their lives, which is where they start talking about Revamp and they go and talk to another guy and this is what is actually helping me and easing up my life or raising up my business. So that is the entire vision and the mission of Revamp.

How do you see the electric vehicle market evolving in the next few years and how does your company plan to stay ahead of the competition?

So like I mentioned, to talk about how we plan to stay ahead of the competition, the major of the competition is focusing on making electric vehicles that can be sold to the masses. Basically, they don’t want to focus on a niche. They want to actually make vehicles that will act like general vehicles and people will want to buy them. Maybe they will buy it, but it won’t be a need-based vehicle, it would be a want-based vehicle that other companies are making. We are actually making vehicles that are need-based. We are only tapping that, but we will actually want those vehicles who actually need those vehicles rather than want, basically to keep thriving and to make money from all of these vehicles. So that is a key differentiator that we want to focus on as also the attachments that we have and the modularity that we have and also the support as a company that we want to provide to our customers. So we are also planning to provide financing support from multiple nationalized banks to our clients. We are also planning to provide support in terms of aftersales service, in terms of vehicles that are non-functional. We are also planning to support them with backup leads where their business doesn’t hamper because of us. That is where we are planning to differentiate ourselves. Our plans in future, as I mentioned, are that one year down the line, we might also look at exploring the premium segment which allows people to carry maybe higher payloads and higher volumetric weight than getting on a two-wheeler. So that is the entire thing.

Can you discuss any recent developments or innovations your company has made in the electric vehicle industry?

To touch up on our recent achievements. I would like to touch upon one thing, we recently won the National Startup Award in the transportation sector, and we got it from the Minister of Commerce. Mr. Piyush Goyal and it was a moment of pride for us because what we have been trying to work on, whatever long-term vision that we are trying to work on, actually empowering the society, the Government is also recognizing the efforts and actually rewarding this for that. That was one achievement. Apart from this, we have recently also promulgated our low-speed scooter, as in basically we have got certifications of this so we are going to start manufacturing these food does not help and offloading to the market. We recently have been talking to a good number of B-to-B clients and I cannot name them right now, we are trying to solve that problem at such a level that it might be a revolutionary change in their business models basically. And our solutions might help them keep two steps ahead of their competitors. So that is what we are working on and we are also talking to a couple of partnerships maybe apart from India, global partnerships.

Is AI helping you in this field of manufacturing?

I believe my partner, Pushkaraj, would be the right person since he has been working on these technologies. But right now, in terms of A.I., we are actually planning to integrate it into our app, the revamped mobile app, where a user just has to basically command that what he wants to know or what he wants to do, what he wants to understand about the vehicle. If he just wants to understand and know what is the remaining number of kilometres that he can go with the vehicle?  And basically, that is where we are trying to use artificial intelligence in terms of manufacturing. We are definitely focused on Industry 4.0 and using AI tools basically to keep us smart in terms of smart manufacturing and also keep us efficient. So I believe that is a role we want to use AI.

One piece of advice you would give to EV startups?

I would say one of the ways that I am very fairly very new. So I don’t think I have the right to advise someone. But it is it is just a suggestion that I would give. As you know, I believe a lot of EV startups are majorly focused on the top line, basically the revenues, you know, the number of customers that they want to cater to or the number of vehicles that they have sold. Those are all good numbers of their books, basically. But, you know, people are not trying to look something beyond that. People are trying to look at the bigger picture. I would advise them to take a step back, and look at the bigger picture, they can actually solve some problems in someone else’s life. Because once such kind of problem is solved, someone is getting benefitted out of that vehicle, you don’t have to go and give him any incentive for him to start marketing your product. He himself being a happy customer, will become your brand ambassador. And with each customer that you’re onboarding, and each vehicle that you are selling, you’re increasing the number of brand ambassadors and they are becoming your marketing tools. So I believe that is what major startups are failing to focus on. Another thing is the majority of the startups are only focused on showcasing revenue and, you know, bumping up their valuations and they don’t have a path to clarity or a clear path to profitability, I would say, that is where they are taking a good number of hits on their boats and selling their vehicles at a humungous loss. That’s where they don’t understand that at some point they will have to shift from what I would say, an external venture-funded capital through revenue-driven capital, a profit-driven company, basically from a funded startup. But whatever you do in a startup, that that transition is very important. And this, I believe, startups fail to understand. So I think they should focus on this as well as solving problems. I think this is your basic marketing strategy, it’s more than just a marketing strategy. I would say this is just our objective of doing for the country, for the society, for the ecosystem. We genuinely want to solve problems in someone’s life. Basically, we want to have that happiness, that satisfaction that the products that we are making, the product we are rolling out and actually making some difference in someone’s life, that is the entire process. We don’t have any hidden marketing agenda behind this, but definitely, it is I think it is a rule of thumb, basically, that once people are happy and they’re happy customers of their product by default, they will become your brand ambassadors. In that case, we don’t plan to have hefty marketing budgets. Other companies definitely have plans like, you know, 8 to 10% of the revenues.  But in that case, we don’t plan to invest that much in marketing. We actually want to roll out our vehicles, make people try them for a couple of months, see the results and, you know, slowly start to this way because that is where once the customer is happy, they will definitely start going out in the market and getting me more lessons.

So as we were discussing about Shark Tank, I would like to ask you one question, which Shark was the most entertaining of all of them?

In terms of entertainment, I would say Aman Gupta is the most entertaining. I believe he is the cool dude out of all the sharks. Apart from Aman, I believe from in season two, we miss the most is definitely Ashneer, he was very straightforward and I would say people believed he got into controversial debates with other sharks or maybe even the startup founders. But I believe he was just stating the facts. He was just showing them the right direction. He was just trying to be like, this is what it is and this is not right. That is something which is that I admired about him. And I believe everyone else is also very sweet. They are very supportive in every case.

Our interview with Pritesh Mahajan has shed light on the remarkable journey of Revamp Moto and the founder’s vision for the future of electric vehicles. Their commitment to sustainability and innovation has propelled them to the forefront of the EV industry, and their success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of their team. As the world continues to embrace sustainable solutions, Revamp Moto is poised to make a significant impact in the automotive industry and beyond. We thank Pritesh for taking the time to speak with us, and we look forward to seeing the continued growth and success of Revamp Moto.

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