From Mumbai, Bengaluru to Hyderabad, potholes are a bane on the roads in nearly every city in the country. Come monsoons, the condition of roads worsens and potholes, apart from causing distress to those commuting, even claim the lives of many.
From artists to activists, many have tried to protest against bad roads, but in vain. While fixing roads is not in our hands, three entrepreneurs - Viswanadh Malladi, Santosh Samala and Madhav Kolli, have found a way to survive through them. A product, which according to them, could change the way India rides.
They have created a float, which can be strapped onto the seats of two and four wheelers and can reduce the impact on the body of a driver due to continuous driving and bad roads.
“We recognised how the road infrastructure in India was a major hurdle to our quality of living. We realised the potential of a product which could tackle all these problems. An average Indian spends roughly two hours a day on the roads and we realised that we must do something to make that time more delightful, enjoyable and most importantly, healthier. It all started with an open source design thinking class. We recognised a potential for a revolutionary product which could change the way India rides,” Viswanadh says.
In 2015, Viswanadh, Santosh and Madhav left their corporate jobs and founded Fego Innovations.
With help from National Institute of Design (NID), Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises), by October 2015, they built their first working prototype, which was a huge hit. They bagged numerous awards and garnered government support as well. The next challenge was in converting this prototype into a mass product. Forty concept designs, six iterations, more than 10,000 km testing and many vendors later, Fego successfully finished its first commercially viable product, the ‘FEGO Float.
So how does Fego Float help deal with bad roads?
Fego Float is a float made from a type of rubber that can be strapped onto the seat of a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler. The floats have air pockets inside, which readjust to take the shape of the person’s bottom and the air cells are evenly distributed reducing the pressure on the rider’s body. Vishwanadh says that a person can drive twice the distance they normally do, without any fatigue.
When a person sitting on a Fego Float goes over a pothole, the jerk from it is absorbed by the air inside and is redistributed over the surface area, giving the rider the same effect as the suspension technology. Vishwanadh claims that the float reduces the impact of the pothole by 46%.
The floats also have grooves between the air cells, which allow air to pass through, reducing potential sweating due to long hours of driving. The idea is to ultimately reduce back pain due to riding a bike or driving a car.
Currently, it has a Float one product for four wheelers and another version for two wheelers.
Hyderabad-based Fego started off with a crowdfunding campaign on December 1 and garnered over Rs 30 lakh from over 1,600 funders in two months. It has now started selling its products on Amazon, priced at Rs 2,199 for the bike and Rs 2,499 for the car version.
Currently, Fego, which is based out of startup incubator T-Hub, runs on a straightforward business model where it earns its revenues through online sale of its products. It sells across the country and even has seen orders coming from places such as Shimoga, Gulbarga, Dehradun, Jammu, Asansol and Kozhikode.
Its next step is to establish an offline presence and establish distribution of Fego Float across India. It will start with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and eventually expand to cities across the country.
While these products are aimed at the consumer space, it is also working on developing B2B products. It is currently working on a pilot with BigBasket where it designed a platform that can sit on any bike and hold the large bags that delivery guys carry. This is aimed at addressing the issue of back ache, caused by the weight of the delivery bag and eventually in reducing attrition.
Co-founders of Fego Float
It is also looking to partner with cab aggregators such as Uber to give the four-wheeler version of Fego Float to driver partners, who spend most of the day driving.
Fego has identified seven problems related to Indian commuting and wants to create a segment of 'new-age automobile accessories' solving these issues. The seven issues identified by Fego are pollution, back pain, shoulder pain, luggage space, weather conditions, safety and parking space.