U.S. start-up Ridepanda is an online micro-mobility marketplace – a one-stop shop for people to purchase, and maintain their ‘e-ride’. It officially launched in September, with an initial focus on the U.S. market including cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.
CEO Chinmay Malaviya and CTO Charlie Depman, tell Auto Futures that, before they first met, they shared a similar background in working for environmental NGOs in India and China.
“Our passion for the environment led us to the up-and-coming world of electric vehicle start-ups emerging in the Bay Area at the time. Today, after many years in the industry and as long time California residents, the need for sweeping action against pollution and climate change has never felt more urgent,” say Malaviya and Depman.
The two founders also worked at rival micro-mobility companies. Malaviya worked for Lime; Depman for Bird and Scoot.
“Over the past year in particular, we have seen demand for e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-mopeds (we like to call them ‘e-rides’) surge at an incredible rate, which led us on our path to forming Ridepanda, and increasing overall e-ride ownership in this country and around the world,” they tell us.
“Our experiences at Lime and Bird gave us a holistic understanding of what makes a great e-bike, e-scooter, or e-moped (we like to call them ‘e-rides’) – from the form factor to the battery quality. We also noticed how these sharing companies opened up e-rides to a broader audience, and made electric vehicles in general more mainstream.”
“Despite the fact that large numbers of people have begun to embrace e-rides as a primary mode of transportation, we also saw that there was very low brand awareness, and that most people didn’t actually know what type of e-ride was best for them. With all of these observations in mind, we saw an opportunity to get high quality e-rides in the hands of more consumers by helping people make more informed purchasing decisions,” they add.
Ridepanda’s founders say their broader mission is to raise awareness around the threat of pollution and climate change, and help inspire more people to embrace the need to end their reliance on large, gas-guzzling cars as their primary form of transportation.
More people than ever before are looking for their own e-ride
The two founders want to make the whole process of buying an e-bike or e-scooter a lot easier and intuitive. To this end they’ve set up a quiz. “Our Ridefinder Quiz helps customers find the best vehicle option for their price range, usage and mileage. Additionally, we provide a rubric score with each product that gives a rating for durability, performance, reparability, safety and sustainability. Check it out here.”
The Ridepanda marketplace is also Covid-safe. “There is no need for concern during the selection and buying process, as all e-ride purchases are made online, and then shipped to customers directly,” they explain.
In fact, Ridepanda may well have launched just at the right time. “We’ve seen a massive shift in urban mobility and transportation. The pandemic has heightened demand for personal ownership, as consumers today are more reluctant to utilize ridesharing or public transportation.
“As a result, more people than ever before are looking for their own e-ride—in fact, e-bikes have seen 190% growth in sales from June 2019 to June 2020 alone. Post-pandemic, we’re expecting this recent shift in consumer behavior to continue,” they note.
Urban mobility re-imagined
Finally, we took the opportunity to ask them what they think urban mobility look like by the end of the decade.
“Our hope is that we’ll see more and more people using cleaner alternative modes of transportation – everything from e-rides to pedal bikes—as their primary means of getting around. Beyond an individual consumer level, we’re also hoping that municipal governments and urban planning committees will continue to design cities for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than cars.”
“We’ve already started to see this shift in some cities, but our dream is to see urban planning and urban mobility reimagined on a global scale to help combat the impact of fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions,” conclude Malaviya and Depman.