Toutche: The E-Bicycle startup founded by Raghu K and Mahesha HS has been an inspiration to all those “risk wary” wannabes who have dreams of their own but do nothing about it due to the fear of losing. “If there is life, it’s the goal that keeps it alive” – goes the adage. Life is full of exuberance and joy if one’s goal happens to be his dream and he is living it. However, living one’s dream involves taking calculative, well planned and executed risks, which the above founders took and the result is there to see.
Here is the brief story of the duo, who not only dreamed big but worked hard to realize it by taking all sorts of risks in life. The “Toutche”, is the fruit of their passion, hard-work, determination and perseverance. Before we take a plunge into the story, let’s see what is E-bicycle all about.
Electric Vehicles (EV) – the future of mobility
The first decade of the 21st century saw the interest in renewables taking-off like never before. With the advent of new kinds of rechargeable batteries, super-fast Internet connectivity at affordable rates, smart phones, the mobility (public and private) got smart and electrified. That means, from public mobility vehicles – trains, busses, lorries, vans, taxis, autoriskhas to private mobility vehicles – cars, scooters and bikes, all saw “lithium ion battery” adoption.
The “excitement” for EV driven mobility in the matured markets like US, EU, Japan, China, South Korea and others was comparable to the Internet in its initial years. The US based EV sensation “Tesla automotive” became “darling” of the investors with the company market cap reaching mind boggling US 585 billion dollars. This eclipsed marketcaps of all other industrial behemoths like General Electric (GE), Boeing, General motors, Ford etc, such is the craze.
The EV fever that took the developed world by storm finally reached the shores of India. Since 2010 many startups have built EV vehicles in India – from cars to auto rickshaws, to bikes and scooters.
However, the last mile personal mobility vehicles like bicycles that were untouched by the EV wave, also started catching the EV fever. That means the bicycle, which has always been dependent on the rider’s pedal power for motion, started seeing innovations like battery assisted pedaling. This changed the game altogether, as the battery assisted pedaling made riding cycles effortless even on upward gradients. Suddenly E-bicycle started appearing “hip” and “aspirational” for the young and for those who are young at heart.
By this, one thing is established that the future of electric mobility has arrived in India with a bang.
Humble seeds of Toutche were sown in 2014
In 2014 the founders – Raghu and Mahesha who were the mastermind behind Mysuru’s bicycle sharing project “Trin Trin”, set their sight on designing an E-bicycle from the scratch. Their design focused on offering all that a modern day bicycle boasts off – comfort, roadgrip, ride quality, ergonomics, durability etc. The design was quickly turned into a workable prototype and they called it “Toutche electric”. The first set of 100 bicycles were built in Mysuru itself, and the battery assemblies to power these bicycles were sourced from China.
The founders could quickly sell-off 75 cycles to the buyers. However, to put the bicycles on a ruthless testing drive and to obtain feedback from the users, the remaining 25 cycles were put up on rent at Mysuru’s iconic Karanji lake.
The users tested these bicycles and gave their honest feedback – both positive and negative. The duo had to head back to the drawing board and worked day-in-day-out ironing out all chinks to build a near perfect prototype incorporating all suggestions made by the cyclists. They gave incredible attention to details when it came to various aspects like comfort, styling and ride quality – the 3 most important attributes, which makes OR breaks bicycle sales. Thus was born their first block-buster product “Heileo ” in 2015, and the rest, they say is history.
Initially Heileos were built and sold to cycle enthusiasts locally and in 2018 when the founders decided to take their product national, the company “Toutche” was officially registered.
Toutche in modern avtar
A manufacturing unit was quickly established to assemble E-bicycles in Mysuru where design, development and prototyping happens. A modern R&D center was established in Bangaluru to do the cutting edge work around electric transmission, battery technology and on-board electronics.
As of 2020, the company has more than 18 service centers and 9 experience/ sales outlets across 9 cities in India. Plan is on card to take this number to 25 in a short period of time, so that the product is available pan India.
Bigger the aspiration bigger is the drive to work hard
In a free wheeling interview given to Velocrush India, the Toutche’s co-founder Raghu K, reiterated his ambition to become India’s “the best” E-bicycle brand by winning “hearts and minds” of bicycle enthusiasts. Looking at their achievements so far, one can’t take his ambition casually.
They have this burning desire and strong will to make it happen, come what may.