China’s top bike-sharing startup Ofo is reportedly eyeing an India entry by early next year. Founded three years ago, Ofo shot into the big league earlier this year, riding on a $700 million funding from Chinese internet giant Alibaba which is heavily invested in India already that earned the startup the ‘unicorn’ tag. At present, Ofo is said to be valued at close to $2 billion, and it rolled out its services in London last month. Also Read - FIR filed against Twitter India again, now over child pornography contentAlso Read - Mi Notebook Pro X to be Xiaomi's most expensive laptop yet, launch tomorrow
“Ofo is currently doing extensive ground research in India, examining government policies and the permissions required where foreign businesses in the transportation sector are concerned, as well as looking into the infrastructural limitations,” a person in the know told ET. Ofo is available on both iOS and Android, and the app allows bike/cycle tracking (parking spots can be determined) as well as locking/unlocking of the two-wheeler. Users pay $1 per hour for utilizing its service. However, if Ofo were to launch in India, both pricing and parking models have to be tweaked. ALSO READ: uberMOTO, bike sharing service launched in Noida and Ghaziabad Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needy
Ofo might be looking at Indian metros to begin with, and is likely to target the mass-affluent sections of society. Interestingly, it seems to have received favorable responses from several state governments in the country. “The sharing economy already exists in India and select state government officials realize that through Ofo they can work on addressing congestion issues and act on building larger regional transit systems that are sustainable and are in line with their government’s smart cities plans,” an official was quoted as saying. ALSO READ: Xiaomi launches Qicycle Electric Folding Bike for urban commuters in China priced at Rs 30,700
Currently, Ofo operates in seven countries other than home market, China. India and Indonesia are next on the radar, and it intends to expand its fleet of vehicles to 20 million by the end of this year from about 7 million now. It has bikes in more than 150 cities around the world, according to reports in the Western press, and its international expansion is being fueled by funds from not only Alibaba, but also Didi Chuxing Uber rival and China’s biggest taxi-hailing service. “I believe that in 10 years, no one will buy personal bikes anymore. And bikes will become the first object that has no (private) ownership,” Dai Wei, CEO of Ofo, told a German publication.