- The idea is very simple- take the petrol pump to the customer similar to how food delivery apps are taking restaurants to the customers’ door.
- “Repos Energy platform is a great solution to overcome the losses from dead mileage, spillage, pilferage, and fuel adulteration,” shared Aditi.
- It took three years coupled with a few amendments from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to allow home delivery of diesel and petrol in 2017.
- The firm’s revenue swelled from 30 lakhs in the first year to 3 crores in the following year, which has now grown exponentially to 30 crores.
The journey of start-ups such as Amazon and Flipkart are stories of innovation that have revolutionised the world. They not only fast-forwarded growth in retail business by delivering almost everything at the doorstep, but inspired many to follow suit.
One afternoon, Chetan and his wife Aditi were sitting amid a power cut at their home in Pune. While waiting for the electricity to return, Aditi received a parcel from Amazon with a series of messages validating the delivery of the product. That’s when the idea to deliver fuel at people’s doorstep struck the couple. To provide context, Chetan had taken over his father’s petrol pump business and was receiving innumerable requests for diesel delivery.
In a frank conversation with The Blue Circle, Aditi Bhosale Walunj, and Chetan Walunj, co-founders, Repos Energy talked about their experience of venturing into unknown territory, their efforts to make it happen and what the future of fuel delivery looks like in the country.
Petrol Pump on Wheels
Observing how customers were regularly buying diesel in bulk quantities from their retail outlet and carrying them in barrels, coupled with frequent requests for door delivery, led the couple to launch their startup Repos Energy.
Today Repos does door-to-door delivery of diesel in more than 65 Indian cities utilising IoT, Cloud, and simple and productive payment options and is backed by none other than the patriarch of Tata Industries, Ratan Tata.
The idea behind the startup is very simple – take the petrol pump to the customer similar to how food delivery apps are taking restaurants to the customers’ door, but the journey was riddled with roadblocks.
“When no one supported us, it was Mr. Ratan Tata who promised to support us and cut to 2020, Tata Motors has held our back firmly since then,” said Chetan.
“Repos Energy platform is a great solution to overcome the losses from dead mileage, spillage, pilferage, and fuel adulteration,” shared Aditi. “It also eliminates the hassle of the company to keep a track of driver and right quantities,” she added.
However, the project was initially a non-starter. Since the business idea was nascent, there were no regulations for the business to get the green signal. The government did not allow anyone to sell fuel outside their petrol pump. Besides, the sector is highly regulated, so it took three years coupled with a few amendments from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to allow home delivery of diesel and petrol in 2017.
The prime concern in allowing delivery of fuel was its highly flammable nature. To begin with, the ministry gave a nod for a pilot of three vehicles, later increased to 51, to assess the safety aspect. Of these 51, 39 were implemented, and Repos Energy was responsible for 36 of them.
Aditi and Chetan reached out to the Petroleum And Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), where they spoke to the administration regarding the safety measures that were needed to be in place. To their surprise, the model and requirements were simple, as the same had been replicated and was in use since long for the aircraft refuellers.
To design the mobile petrol pump, they initially approached manufacturers of aircraft refuellers but witnessed failure, since the structures made for aircraft are huge in size and prove to be an expensive affair. After failing to find an outsourcing solution, Chetan decided to set-up his own manufacturing unit of 300 sq. feet in Chakan, some 30 km from Pune. Today, the unit has captured a ground of 2.5 lakh sq. feet, which Chetan claims to be the world’s biggest manufacturing unit where a mobile petrol pump can be assembled within 24 hours.
Repos energy was formally launched in 2017 with enthusiasm and a vision to address critical global concerns such as increasing carbon footprint, the importance of utilising energy efficiently, and climate change. The start-up is also one of the first to enter the space of delivering energy at the doorstep.
Mobile Petrol Pumps
The firm’s revenue swelled from 30 lakhs in the first year to 3 crores in the following year, which has now grown exponentially to 30 crores. Due to COVID, last month, the firm earned revenues equivalent to what they had earned in the entire year, as an increasing number of bulk customers preferred getting fuel delivered rather than stepping out.
Repos Energy is serving several housing societies as well as a COVID centres that have no electricity back-up.
The start-up has been active in supporting the crisis-hit cities such as Odisha during the Fani cyclone attack and Kolhapur floods in Pune.
The government has also permitted people to become fuel entrepreneurs, that is to sell fuel by owning a mobile petrol pump, not a petrol pump entirely.
“We advice people, make them fuel entrepreneurs, provide them with the mobile petrol pump, and help them tie-up with the fuel marketing company from where the fuel has to be procured,” explained Chetan.
These mobile petrol pumps are then connected with the Repos Energy App which enables customers to order fuel from them based on their needs.
The platform is being used by more than 300 bulk customers and around 2.5 lakh litres of diesel is sold per month in Pune alone. The revenue model is based on a share-basis with the petrol pump owners while there’s a system-driven convenience fee of 20-30 paisa extra. The delivery charge is a factor of the distance, quantity, and time of delivery.
Growth and Aim
The start-up has widespread presence in almost 65 cities and boasts of clients like Larsen & Toubro, Tata Group, Mahindra & Mahindra, Schindler, JW Marriott hotel, Phoenix Mall and The Westin hotel.
Chetan and Aditi plan to expand across 32,000 partner pumps within the next five years. In the current fiscal year, they aim to increase the fleet of mobile petrol pumps to over 3,200 across the four major cities. To ensure smooth expansion, the start-up, other than Ratan Tata’s backing, is looking at raising capital through its next round of funding.
On the question of the demand for diesel in the future, Chetan said that demand for diesel is growing at a 5% CAGR and India will be the biggest consumer of diesel by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum and Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell.
The source of energy that can replace diesel is electrical energy but there’s a long way before batteries replace diesel in heavy vehicles, which are Repos’s customers. So Chetan believes that there is no threat to the business even if there’s a wide emphasis on moving towards clean energy sources. On the other hand, the firm is open to trying new sources as well. They also plan to improve the distribution channel, whatever be the energy source.
(Edited by Anu Choudary)
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