‘Unhealthy’ is the most common condition pertaining in today’s world. It can be an unhealthy environment, health habits or anything. A complete solution for this sounds impossible, but we can try to make slight changes to this, which may bring the unhealthy conditions to an end over the years.
Toutche has a solution for this. It is a global electric micro-mobility company that engineers software-driven electric bikes. Their Heileo range of electric bikes address challenges of traffic congestion, climate change and a sedentary lifestyle. To know more about the company and its product, check out the interview we prepared with Mr. Raghu Kerakatty, CEO, Toutche Electric.
Bangalore Insider – Toutche
Give a brief info about your startup?
Toutche is a global, electric micro mobility company that engineers software-driven electric bikes. We started the company in 2018, to address challenges of traffic congestion, climate change and a sedentary lifestyle, with our Heileo range of electric bikes. Having a sustainable and eco-friendly micro mobility vehicle will become all the more important in the near future, and is already a hotbed of innovation, globally. Toutche, a homegrown brand, is spearheading this space with its high quality e-bikes as we see the potential in this sector in India as well as at a global level.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
The biggest challenge for all of humanity is to protect our planet from the ill-effects of climate change, which in turn, affects us and our future generations. For us at Toutche, the idea is to put our technological experience to work and help address the problem of climate change through the electrification of the mobility sector. We feel the EV segment can make mobility greener and lessen the transport sector’s global contribution of CO2 emissions, which accounts to 25% currently. To do this, we’ve chosen eclectic bicycles as our product to bring about this change.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I’ve been in the tech industry for the past 21 years after doing my B.Tech (NIT Warangal) and MBA (IIM Bangalore). During this time, I’ve spent all my professional years in tech, spanning roles across Commercial leadership, Partnerships, Marketing, Product Management, etc. While I’d attempted to start a few other ventures earlier, Toutche is the one that saw the light of the day in 2018.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
Toutche is an Indian company, based out of Mysore, Karnataka. We started in Mysore since it was our hometown and convenient to kick-off the initial activities. We then (through a separate set-up) were chosen to implement and operate India’s first bicycle-sharing system in Mysore (TrinTrin). That led to Mysore becoming an operational hub. In addition, Mysore due to its proximity to Bangalore, provides us to the right access to technology talent, key to what we do, whilst being a good location to scale our manufacturing and assembly facilities in the future.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
In today’s fast-paced world, one cannot afford to be slow, especially when you are a start-up. The two things that are constantly on my mind are failing to innovate quickly, and falling behind the market by not keeping up with the changing dynamics. It is important to keep up with the times and innovate at a rate that keeps you and your company relevant in the market.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
As a company, our focus is to better our products and make them the best in the market. We may not be the cheapest e-bike company out there, but we certainly offer better quality, technology and innovation. For instance, many electric bicycles in the economy segment do not offer a good quality one that can be used like a regular bicycle when used without any power assist or a detachable, waterproof battery like we do. At Toutche, we pay great attention to detail, design, built and rider experience, in our pursuit to deliver the best e-bikes in the Indian market.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
Long work hours seem to be the norm when you are a startup, but it is important to pace yourself for the longer haul and not stress about self-imposed timelines. I believe that your workplace can be happy only when you have an active life outside of your job. Some of the key things I do to maintain a work-life balance are getting enough sleep, having regular bursts of exercise and reading time, not compromising my family and social time and indulging in my hobbies like playing golf and cricket, every chance I get. I try to wrap up my work within six hours every day, to have time for other things. I think I am learning how to prioritise better, with every passing day.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise
We have been self and privately funded so far and are currently in the process of raising our first round of funding, the details of which can be shared only later at an appropriate time.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not aware of any misconceptions that people may have about me. I am more of a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of a person.
What gets you excited about this company?
We are at such a pivotal point in general with how technology is transforming businesses, lives, and the society at large. Toutche as a company, is in the electric mobility and active lifestyle space that is evolving and growing rapidly. We have the opportunity to create something special and make a positive impact. I am excited about the path we are on, and confident about our strengths, experience and most importantly, passion. Leading with technology and innovating things gives me a lot of satisfaction.
11. Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night
• How you start your day
I check my phone briefly first thing in the morning, for any important messages since we operate across multiple time-zones. Weekday mornings are busy as I get my daughter ready for school before dropping her off. Post breakfast, I hop onto my work desk. Weekends are a bit more relaxed, with a slightly late start.
• Fitness Regime
I love playing sports which in turn keeps me active and fit. I played club cricket quite regularly earlier but now I’ve moved to playing golf on a hilly course which can be a workout in itself. I supplement this with a simple workout regime 2-3 times a week.
• What does your healthy diet include
I don’t really follow any diets but keep a tab on what I eat. I prefer eating a vegetarian meal on most days but occasionally have chicken and avoid red meat. I don’t fancy oily or fried food but I am working on reducing my sugar intake. I have a good dose of protein in my daily diet and take my daily multi-vitamin supplements.
• and how you end your day
I put my daughter to bed most nights, have a quiet dinner and then unwind before I sleep – which most evenings is, a bit of TV and then some reading in bed, before I call it a night.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
All of the core team members at Toutche are people I know from the past or have been introduced to through my close network. That is how most startups build their initial team I reckon. My cofounder Mahesh and I met in the 11th grade and have been best of friends since then.