They say a great startup idea solves problems. Yulu does exactly that. It solves a major commute problem for Bangaloreans.
Bangalore’s gig economy professionals have enough chaos in their lives. Unstructured working hours, dependence on the whimsy of clients and other uncertainties, they don’t really have room to factor in the bedlam of Bangalore’s traffic to their daily battles.
Yulu, the bike rental company addresses them right at the junction of their problems. The bikes are easy to find, easy to rent, easy to ride and easy to abandon anywhere in the city.
Gig economy pros include a large number of woke millennials, who are genuinely concerned about carbon footprints and the ecology at large. Yulus are either electric or manual and neither consumes fuel nor pollutes the air.
And what makes Yulu resonate with 20- and 30 somethings is its minimalism. It’s small, can be navigated with an app and is accessible.
To rent a Yulu, a commuter downloads their app, and it tells them the location of the nearest bike. Then it’s a simple matter of following one’s nose to rent it and get to one’s destination.
Yulus have a range of 25 kms or less and this is more than enough for most commuters, who can use a combination of the metro. With its chic and lightweight bikes and e-vehicles, making commuting both cool and sustainable — and this is important for ecology-conscious Bangaloreans.
“Because Bangalore is as chaotic as it is, it’s a lot more complicated and time consuming to take out your car, travel to work through congested roads and spend time fighting to find parking,” Amit Gupta, cofounder and Yulu CEO told Explocity Executive Traveller. “It’s actually faster to get to a destination with a bike or an e-vehicle, because you can manoeuver better. And with dedicated Yulu zones, parking is easy.”
Krishna Pasupathy, 18, a frequent Yulu rider, agreed. “I use Yulu both to commute to work and for any errand within a 5 km radius,” he told Explocity.
Pasupathy takes the Yulu Miracle, an ebike, to work about 4 kms away from home. “It’s definitely cut down on commute time, and also leaves me feeling better about myself,” he added.
Anita Sukumar, 32 and a freelance marketer, uses the Yulu bicycle. “While I don’t use Yulu to get to work, I consciously use the bike to take myself around the city for casual work or errands.” she said. For Sukumar, the bike is both sustainable and cost effective.
When asked if she would use Yulu for distances more than the typical five kms radius, she chuckled, “I have never tried to cycle that far.”
“Yulu means ‘simple’. We wanted everything about Yulu’s vehicles to be simple to use,” Gupta said.
We checked this on a Pinyin-English dictionary, and it translated “yulu” to not “simple”, but “simple-minded and ill informed”. A company PR rep responded and said that “Yulu” means “simple” in Mandarin, but could not provide us with a verifiable translation. We will put it down to semantics. (Or maybe someone in the parent tech company Yulu in China was simply being self-deprecating… and really cool.)
The Yulu app — Android and Apple downloadable on any OS, provides information on Yulu Zones, battery percentage, 24/7 support chat, and multiple payment options. The app also has a ‘last-sanitized’ timestamp for each vehicle.
Yulu claims they have over 10,000 electric vehicles across Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai and four million registered users across these cities, with 175,000 consistent monthly active users.
Their plans include expanding the ebike fleet from 10,000 to 50,000 units and will focus on their electric two-wheelers for last mile deliveries.
The company has reportedly received generous funding — there are many references to that in the financial press — and appear to check all the boxes that are benchmarks for acceptable growth.
Their success will make Bangaloreans happy.
Sky blue Yulu bikes are now ubiquitous to Bangalore, and Sukumar and Pasupathy are examples of the thousands of commuters — and increasingly, riders in Swiggy and Dunzo uniforms — who are representative of the larger mass of grateful Yulu users.