It’s no secret that India’s startups and companies are struggling amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but sometimes it takes a single video to show how big the problem really is.
A Twitter video has shown hundreds of Bounce bikes parked in a field, presumably near Bangalore. The 12-second video shows Bounce’s trademark yellow and red bikes parked next to each other as grass grows around them. The video appears to have been first shared on TikTok, with the user having shot it clearly very amused by the sight of all these parked bikes.
— Ruhan Pandey (@ruhan_pandey) June 23, 2020
Bounce CEO Vivekananda HR even responded to the video. “You can help :)” he replied to the user who’d posted it. “Help us spread the word that scooters are available on duration based rentals. All these scooters are in good condition don’t worry 😉 Also we make them crisp and clean before we deliver the scooters. 50% of our fleet is parked but nothing to worry,” he added. Bounce has officially already announced this program — on 28th April, Vivekananda HR had said that their bikes were available for companies who were delivering essential goods.
But even after the lockdown has been lifted, Bounce’s fleet is still largely lying unused in a field, instead of being dotted all around Bangalore. These unused bikes would’ve hit the company hard — with 50% of its fleet currently parked, and the rest of its bikes possibly seeing fewer rides than before, Bounce’s revenue has presumably fallen by more than 50 percent in this period, which would’ve made it hard for Bounce to continue paying salaries and other costs. Bounce has already cut its costs by firing 120 employees during the lockdown.
While Bounce has admitted that 50% of its fleet is currently lying unused, the numbers are probably similar for other mobility companies. Ola, for its part, has fired 1400 employees during the lockdown, while Uber has let go of 600 people in India. And it’s not only mobility startups that are impacted — the numbers could be similar for startups across the board, including food delivery companies and service startups. India’s lockdown might be slowly being lifted, but as Bounce’s unused bikes show, they way back to normalcy for Indian startups could be long and hard.