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Interview with Founder of LightSpeed, Rahil Rupawala

 

Over the past few years, India has witnessed a positive trend in the growth of electric bicycles. One such mastermind that catalysed the reaction is Rahil Rupawalla from Lightspeed Mobility Pvt Ltd.  

With the sole intention to cater to biking enthusiasts and environmentally conscious people in the urban areas, Rahil and his brother partnered to set up Lightspeed mobility. 

Right from prototyping and raising money, Rahil and team have come a long way to making Lightspeed one of the best electric cycle brands in the market.

To bring you more insights, here’s an excerpt to enlighten you on his journey so far.  

Why the name Lightspeed?

LightSpeed signifies the ultimate human expression to break boundaries, overcome limitations, and fly off into infinity.

In addition to this, we chose the name LightSpeed because of its inherent meaningfulness in context of the product segment we’re dealing with. Our electric bicycles are lightweight, agile, and speedy.

When you ride a LightSpeed, the friction from the tarmac ceases to slow you down and tire you out. Instead, your riding experience feels more like unhindered flying.

Any specific reason why the blue and the orange? What do the colours signify?

Blue and orange have been used generously on one of our most popular models, the LightSpeed Dryft. Dryft was one of our initial two models, and we wanted it to have a sporty, edgy personality that was as eye-catching as it was youthful, while also being very classy. Blue and orange are colours that signify reliability and high energy respectively. The LightSpeed orange also has a certain inherent eye-catching quality, making it safer for night rides. The fact that blue and orange are largely universally likeable colours also helps.

lightspeed cycle

What made you want to start Lightspeed?

I’ve always been passionate about automotives. When I was studying in the UK, I backpacked extensively across Europe and saw how cycling and especially e-cycling had been whole-heartedly adopted by citizens for years; it explained the clean, fresh air, uncrowded free roads, smaller commute durations, and better environs to live in.

It then became my vision to build and be part of a pollution-free India, by developing similar practical commute options that run on alternative energy sources and could be adopted by Indians. My engineering and design background coupled with my love for cycling steered me in the direction of starting LightSpeed to design, manufacture, and sell e-cycles that were elegant, sporty, and environmentally sustainable.

How do you think Lightspeed is changing today’s problems?

Some of the most pressing problems in India today are increasing traffic congestions on urban streets, overcrowding of streets in semi-urban areas, increasing pollution levels, increasing commute time, frustrating daily commute, lack of access to affordable and practical commute options, lowered productivity in the workplace, and lifestyle diseases caused by sedentary routines.

LightSpeed’s value offering to India is a range of electric bicycles for specific use cases, designed for teenagers and adults. These e-cycles promote fitness, ease of commute, and are great for recreational leisure rides and adventure rides. LightSpeed Electric

Bicycles plants a tree for every e-cycle sold; using electric cycles as opposed to traditional fuel powered vehicles eases the pressure on the environment, reduces traffic congestions, and makes the streets cleaner, safer, and significantly more spacious.

The running cost of a LightSpeed is close to nothing, especially when compared to the significant amount of money people spend on petrol and diesel every month.

Give us three reasons why people should buy Lightspeed bikes?

To introduce mild, moderate, or high intensity physical activity to a sedentary lifestyle and improve one’s overall health and fitness.

To make daily commute more practical, convenient, less time consuming, significantly low cost, and easy on the environment.

To enjoy leisure rides and adventurous rides in one’s free time, as a form of recreation

Compared to normal cycles, how high or low is the maintenance of electric cycles?

The maintenance of electric cycles is pretty much the same as that of regular bicycles. They require regular servicing, which is possible with the help of a good local bicycle mechanic. Further they require very basic care measures to increase the longevity and functionality of the mechanical and electronic components.

How are Lightspeed bikes different from its competitors?

LightSpeed Electric Bicycles are feature-packed for the price-points they’re sold at; every LightSpeed Electric Bicycle is built using premium grade, high quality components, goes through rigorous quality checks, and is delivered to customers’ homes in a 95% assembled state, leaving very little assembly work for the customer to do.

Most e-cycles are delivered only in an 80-85% assembled state, causing the customer to invest much time and effort in getting the e-cycle on the road.

LightSpeed pays a lot of attention to design, detail and paintwork, which translates into our e-cycles being eye-catching head-turners on the street. When you ride a LightSpeed you get the right kind of attention from onlookers; your LightSpeed enhances your personality.

As a LightSpeed Electric Bicycle owner, you get to be a part of our exclusive Strava cycling club – SpeedTribe; in this club you can interact with fellow LightSpeed e-cyclists, record your rides, routes, and elevation levels, set fitness goals and measure your progress, and participate in our frequent Electric Cycling Challenges, where winners win attractive prizes.

Further, we have an in-house After Sales Team that is available dedicatedly to every LightSpeed customer over Call, WhatsApp, and Email at all times. Every after sales related issue is resolved, every single time via informed advise, suggestions, repair assistance where needed, and even component replacement where necessary.

LightSpeed even makes it extremely easy to insure your e-cycle against theft and accidental damage from the official website itself, at very reasonable rates and with minimal documentation.

These are some of the ways in which we consciously elevate our value offering and give the very best to our customers and patrons.

Any major difficulty you faced in your journey? How did you overcome it?

The major struggles we faced were in our initial days soon after inception. Almost no one in India had heard about the product segment, so it took us a while to define our target segment, educate members from the segment, and diffuse the product and technology into the market.

We overcame the product diffusion and adoption challenge by building a trustworthy brand with favourable brand associations, extensively creating and distributing original content, and relying on relationship oriented customer communications.

Any new goals you are aiming to accomplish?

In the coming years, we plan to undertake quite a few interesting activities. These include:

– Expanding our range of models from 5 different use-case specific electric bicycles, to 10.

– Developing a dedicated solution to facilitate urban last mile commute for logistics and delivery segments, using sustainable mobility solutions.

– Increasing physical touch points for patrons and prospective customers by expanding our dealer base, making test rides available in more cities, and further enhancing our after sales functions and presence across the country.

Until today, how have you managed to change the lives of people with your electric bicycles?

Improving the lives of people has always been an integral part of the overall vision of LightSpeed. We strongly believe that a product is only as good as the difference it makes to people’s daily lives.

While many have benefited from riding our electric bicycles regularly, one stand out case is that of Godwin Parmar, a Zomato Delivery Partner by profession, who made the shift from a regular cycle to an e-cycle from LightSpeed.

Godwin was set on not purchasing a fuel guzzling bike to keep expenses lean, and a regular cycle made work both slow and tiring for him.

We assisted him with purchasing a LightSpeed Glyd with a 10.4Ah Battery Upgrade using effectively 0 Cost EMI a few months ago. Since he started riding his LightSpeed, he’s started making more deliveries per day, more on time deliveries, earns better ratings and more money, and returns home feeling fresh at the end of the day.

Another interesting case is that of Basvaraj, who lost  6.5 kg in just 3 months as part of a LightSpeed Electric Cycling Challenge we hosted in 2019.

He feels more confident about himself, experience enhanced fitness levels, and now has a healthy habit of remaining active in spite of a sedentary job.

 

Watch Lightspeed Cycle Reviews by Velocrush Below-

 

 

 

Written By

Abhishek Tarfe is a Certified Bike Mechanic from Park Tool School. He enjoys teaching people how to cycle and loves going on multi-day tours. Besides, he loves dogs and coffee. Follow his madness on Instagram

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