Prittle Prattle in conversation with Samarth Kholkar, CEO & CO-founder, BLive
Samarth Kholkar, please elaborate on your journey as the Co-founder of BLive.
BLive was started in the year 2018 when I got together with my old friend Sandeep Mukherjee to combat the impact of pollution on our environment. We both had spent more than 13 years individually, working in companies like IBM and Nokia. Sandeep had just returned from Europe where he had been exposed to a very mature EV market. We came together with a vision to promote a greener future through the adoption of sustainable mobility. Our mission is to see an EV in every home in India. We realized that, in 2018, people were hardly aware of EVs. So we launched India’s first EV Tours in Goa, to create awareness about EVs and create an opportunity for people to experience an EV.
Our aim through BLive is to address three key problems in the EV consumer’s journey, namely awareness, accessibility, and affordability for EVs. While our EV Tours drove awareness, to create access to EVs we launched India’s first online EV marketplace, which successfully sold EVs across 50 cities in the country in less than a year. In November 2021 we launched our first Experience store where people could come and demo multiple brands of EVs and then buy them. Today we have over 7 Experience Stores across 4 different states and many more coming in the pipeline. To help promote the adoption of EVs, BLive offers multi brand and multi category products, expert advisory services, exclusive offers, accessories, and post-sale services, all on a single platform. Today BLive is the largest multi brand EV marketplace in India with over 25 brands in the portfolio.
What challenges did you face in your initial startup?
Most of our challenges have been consumer specific, especially related to creating awareness about EV and effectively solving their queries. As a startup we were trying to give the best experience. Especially during the pandemic, when consumers couldn’t access physical stores, BLive conducted almost 30-40 virtual demos daily through our online marketplace to educate people and handhold them in their EV purchase. Our EV experts solved all their queries and helped our customers make informed choices.
What is the specialty of BLive, and what do you do to engage your customers? BLive is focussed on creating awareness, easing access, and ensuring affordability to all EV buyers. We do this by offering multibrand, multi category electric vehicles through all our channels and providing EV experts to help you take informed decisions. We also ensure ease of ownership by providing finance options, insurance options,charging solutions and post-sale services.Thus making BLive a one-stop-shop for EVs.
What ties you to BLive as India’s largest EV charging network?
BLive’s vision is to accelerate the adoption of EVs in India and to achieve that, we ensure that we are the problem solvers and solution providers. As a part of that, we realized range anxiety is one of the biggest issues that often surface when talking about switching to EVs. Hence, BLive partnered with BOLT, to deploy India’s largest EV charging network that can help address issues and ensure ease of adoption.
What are your thoughts on the homegrown brands that are developing in India? India has always been a hub for talent, and start-ups are leading the way. Mentors, incubators, and investors are willing to listen to the talent and also willing to invest their time and resources in helping them build their businesses. This has opened up a huge market of opportunities in the country. Access to technology and skills has also made homegrown brands formidable competition to international products. Consider the example of Ather. Their product is a market leader because they invested a lot of time and resources in R&D. We have associated with them and set up charging grids in Goa. Through our marketplace we also acquired pre-bookings and conversions for Ather. At the end of the day the ecosystem has to be supportive to nurture talent and develop new opportunities. That is important for homegrown brands to become market leaders in a short period of time.
What is your take on promoting the EV ecosystem?
Being a new category, in EVs, there is need for awareness and guidance to drive adoption. Collaboration between all the stakeholders is of extreme importance to nurture and grow the category. Currently the EV category holds under 5% share of the larger two-wheeler market. So, if we all want to achieve a common goal of promoting sustainable mobility then developing a community and supporting each other becomes very essential.
BLive has always believed in fostering a symbiotic relation with all our partners and have been going forward with this value sentiment. We welcome new partners and brands to join us in the journey of driving adoption of EV for a cleaner and greener future.
This article is drafted by Prittle Prattle News in the form of an Interview.