E-bike tours adds to Goa’s tourism


Eco friendly B:live electric bike tours in Goa that recently completed a year of operations, is a runaway success, discovers Dhanashri Karbotkar

With air pollution from vehicles on roads increasing in Goa, it is good to hear of the success of B:live e-bike tours. The venture recently completed the first year of operations and is a success going by the steady increase in demand for the e-bikes from tourists.

The e-tour initiative is by Arcis Clean Energy Pvt. Ltd , a Goan startup launched by entrepreneurs Samarth Kholkar and Sandeep Mukherjee. The duo have extended their business to other cities in India, such as Ooty, Coorg, Dehradun, , Gujarat and Mysore, making them the first Goan startup owners to expand   outside the state in  a short span of a year.

Kholkar and Mukherjee launched B:live ventures on November 16 with tie-up with the Goa Tourism Development Corporation ( GTDC). The company has long term contract with GTDC and are the first official EV tourism partners of GTDC. “GTDC is supporting us. They found that our electric bike tours are something which is perfect for the state in order to move towards eco tourism. They are promoting us on their all platforms. We are there on their marketing channels and everywhere,” says Samarth Kholkar, chief executive officer and co-founder proudly.

Kholkar is a Canacona boy. He studied in People’s High School and completed his MBA from Goa Institute of Management. He did his engineering in Pune and spent 10 years with IBM, Bangalore.  Both Kholkar and Mukherjee are friends for over fifteen years.

“Every day Sandeep and I used to sit and talk just about how we could do something for our country. I have travelled and lived in almost all big cities of India but being Goan my heart always lies in Goa. On my frequent visits I would notice that our state is changing and going in different direction then what it was few years back. Obviously tourism is our backbone. It is something which we keep seeing and know. We felt we could contribute towards making Goa’s tourism better,” he says.

Using Mukherjee’s experience of e-bikes (while he was in Finland) the friends decided to launch B:live. “One can experience the joy of effortless riding on electric bikes while exploring the local culture, history and heritage of Goa,” says Kholkar.

Since the starting of the project on November 16 2018, three thousand plus tourists have utilized the service of e-bike tour. Majority of them are foreign tourist and several domestic tourists also enjoy the tours. Cost of the tour   ranges between Rs 2000 to Rs 2500 per head depending on the run. Online and offline facilities of bookings are available.

  Presently the company offers 12 types of tours to different places such as Divar Island, culture trails of Panaji, Old Goa, Food trail, Calangute. The tours can be booked by individuals and groups. Each tour is lead by a captain who  is trained and all of them are locals. Some  are archeologist, architect, engineer, travel writers, etc.

“We started initially with 40 e-bikes now we have 150 bikes. Smartron, Light Speed are some of companies who have manufactured these e-bike for us.  The bikes are parked in hubs of which one is located in Panaji and others in hotel premises from where the tours originate.

“B:live is gaining popularity among the tourist  because it is clean form of tourism and unique way of viewing the state,” says Kholkar. He adds that, tourists are strictly instructed not to carry plastic things and throw garbage on roads during trips. Special bags are provided by the company for  tourists to carry their belongings.

“Every year tourists from different countries and from different culture visit us. Almost 80 lakh tourists visit the state and during peak tourist season the arrival of tourists doubles the load of vehicles on roads. Tourist places like Goa or Ooty, Coorg, Dehradun, face the same problem of infrastructure,” says Kholkar who believes that, e-bikes are a solution to the problem.

He says that while starting the venture in Goa, it was decided to not showcase beaches. “Everyone comes at beaches. We want to show Goa’s history, culture and nature which is completely different from which you see in videos and films.”

He says that the startup aims at giving good experience to tourist by non polluting means. The friends chose Goa because it is 365 day tourist destination. They started the company by investing their own capital of Rs 50 lakh. Subsequently they received funding from local angel investors such as  Srinivas V Dempo and Shivanand V Salgoankar.  The start-up is also registered under the Goa Start up Mission.

We will always be headquartered in Goa. We started out with four tours and increased the number to 12. We are planning for more tours. Our focus in future will always remain on electric vehicle tourism. We may try other form of electric vehicle. We are planning to even go international after some time. We don’t want to become an event company or any such thing. Our company offers something unique and we are proud of our product of e-bike tours,” says Kholkar.