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Ridepanda fills void for a one-stop e-vehicle marketplace

Published October 2, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (BRAIN) — Long before Chinmay Malaviya and Charlie Depman met and formed an online marketplace for electric vehicles, they worked for environmental nonprofits in India and China. Their passion to reduce pollution and slow climate change led to a partnership to create Ridepanda.

The e-commerce business offers a hand-picked selection of e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters. It offers financing, extended warranties, and customer services, including assembly at home or at a nearby shop.

"We looked at the car world," said Malaviya, who last worked at Lime Micromobility, leading new modalities. "Why is it so easy to buy, sell, lease and own a car? Because you already have a great infrastructure, car repair shops, etc. We said if you are to guide this ship away from pollution-creating cars, we need similar online infrastructure to help people easily discover how to buy and own these products."

Ridepanda does this with its online Ridefinder Quiz and five-criteria vetting scale. The quiz helps consumers discover which e-vehicle and spec' fits their needs. The ratings — done in collaboration with micromobilities Lime, Bird, and Scoot E-Bike — rank the vehicles on performance, safety, sustainability, durability, and repairability.

"Because there's so much noise out there, everyone and their uncle is making an e-bike these days and putting it on Kickstarter, it's very hard to shift through these options," said Depman, who previously worked at Bird on the operator efficiency team and at Scoot as a back-end engineer. "What we've done is to come up with a vetting system to help narrow down the choices. Basically, if (a manufacturer doesn't) meet a certain criteria of this vetting system, you don't end up on our site as one of the vehicles we sell."

Marketed through paid advertising and social media, Ridepanda offers 26 e-bikes, 14 e-scooters, and seven e-mopeds, all with available financing. "It's continuous evaluation," Malaviya said. "What we want is a critical threshold of variety across different price points and different spec's and types that we address all the different use categories."

Depman said delving into the used e-vehicle market is being explored, with the vetting system playing an even bigger role in ensuring a confident purchase.

With e-bike and e-scooter laws differing among states, Malaviya said Ridepanda eventually might offer the consumer individualized product offerings based on their IP address or location.

"We are proud members of the advocacy organization PeopleForBikes as well as The League of American Bicyclists," he said "We think our interface could be made very easy and simple to give that information."

With bike sales booming during the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing becoming the norm, the timing for a one-stop e-vehicle marketplace is perfect, both agreed.

"Our target for next year is at least $2 million gross overall sales, and by five years, we're looking to be at least $250 million," Malaviya said. "But core to us is we want to be like NerdWallet for e-mobility. How can we create a lot of valuable content to help people say, 'Do I use Lime everyday or do I actually buy my own scooter? What are the pros and cons? Do I buy a cargo bike or do I keep my van?'"

Ridepander co-owners Chinmay Malaviya, left, and Charlie Depman.
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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