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Searching for “petrol pumps near me?" Get fuel delivered at your doorstep instead
National  
economictimes

An acute lack of demand and supply gap in diesel delivery in the country made IIT grads Ashish Gupta and Nabin Roy conjure up a solution to make refuelling smarter and more accessible. Backed by Y Combinator, MyPetrolPump is doing brisk business.

 

The statistics narrate the reality - India has almost the same number of vehicles as the US at 200 million, yet the number of fuel stations fall acutely short in comparison. Broad estimates peg the country’s fuel stations at 60,000, one third the number compared to that of the US at 160,000.
 
This is just one part of the story. Opening of 100,000 new fuel stations is also practically and economically an impossible task due to the soaring land prices. In fact, a CRISIL report in June 2019 also revealed that there is room for only about 30,000 fuel pumps if the current throughput levels have to be maintained. The report findings were in sharp contrast to the government’s plan of doubling the number of petrol pumps in the country, citing this plan as being largely uneconomical.
 
It is such market dynamics that made two IIT grads, Ashish Gupta and Nabin Roy think about mobile refuelling as the much needed solution and ‘MyPetrolPump’ was eventually conceptualised. “Building a mobile fuel station that could come to the doorstep of the consumer to deliver fuel is what MyPetrolPump set out to do,” says Gupta, who quit his job in Shell in Africa to start the fuel delivery startup as Cofounder and CEO in 2016.
 
Closing the gaps
Once Gupta returned to India, he spent the next few months researching and digging further into the oil and gas ecosystem in the country. He found a big demand and supply gap all across the board. For instance, large volume consumer segments such as the schools, cab rental companies, hospitals etc. burned huge amount of dead mileage and incurred loss of productivity while sending all their buses, trucks, cars to fuel stations just to fill up.
 
Then there was the issue of electricity blackouts, with the current average being less than 18 hours a day in a lot of the Indian cities. This implied that over 20 million households and commercial buildings were depending on backup generators which required diesel. “They can’t bring the generators to fuel stations either, therefore they buy diesel in jerry cans or barrels and transport it dangerously due to lack of suitable options,” avers Gupta.
 
Beyond the cities, the villages, he found, were even more ill equipped to meet such fuel demands. Gupta saw that though India is home to approximately 600,000 villages, not a single village has a fuel station and farmers would often drive several kilometres to a fuel station located on a highway to purchase fuel and bring it back in cans or barrels. “It also economically doesn’t make sense to open an expensive fuel station for each village due to small volume consumption. And even the one million fisheries in India who need to fuel their boats and ships are left with a challenge similar to villagers. Refuelling via mobile stations could help them fulfill their requirements efficiently and economically,” he asserts.
 
The ordering drill
The duo started commercial operations in September 2017. Since then, MyPetrolPump has served over 2000 large volume B2B customers such as Zoomcar, Toyota, Tata, Amazon, and over 5000 apartments and commercial buildings. They have also catered to more than 2000 small and medium businesses in Bangalore.
 
 
The startup allows 20 litres as a minimum quantity of diesel that can be serviced for schools, hospitals, apartments as well as commercial setups running diesel gensets. The process to order is quite simple for potential customers. One can install the app and place the order online based on their location and chosen time of delivery. The fuel is then delivered in specialised refuellers to service the requests. Gupta is gung ho when speaking about his entrepreneurial venture. “We are the Swiggy of fuel,” he beams while narrating how they took to explaining the concept in the early days to the industry stakeholders. Since there was no other last mile doorstep delivery service back then, Gupta would often use this analogy to make their business model more comprehensible.
 
What worked?
The going, though, wasn’t as simple as it now appears. The startup initially was fraught with challenges ranging from regulatory policies in the rule books to consumer inertia on the product offering. Gupta recalls that right from customer perception to investors and even the petrol pump personnel, everyone was skeptical of their venture. “We faced a lot of resistance. Since we were a first mover in the space, customers were wary thinking whether we could deliver fuel in a safe way or not. Also, since we were inventing the wheel in fuel delivery, the fuel stations perceived us as a threat to them. So we had to make them go through the education that we are selling their product and not killing it for them,” he says.
 
 

 

But over the course of time, such aspects settled in. The Bangalore-based fuel delivery company now delivers over 2 million litres of fuel every month to their customers, with a monthly GTV of over $2 million. The company has now partnered with more than 200 fuel stations of Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and has carried out more than 50,000 B2B orders since October 2017.
 
In terms of growth, the company increased from 20 to 10,000 B2B customers during the 2017-2019 period in Bangalore alone and raised a pre-series funding of $1.8 million led by Venture Highway and Y Combinator in FY 2019.
 
They are now on track to expanding their product offerings across all Tier I cities by the end of 2020 and reaching out to Tier II cities by 2021. Currently their model is B2B but they also plan to cater to B2C in the next phase. “We are getting ready to serve the future challenge which will see a bigger demand coming in. We are the inevitable solution to solve the problem of last mile delivery of fuel,” he adds, signing off.

 
 


 
 


 
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