Interview: Dhivik Ashok, Founder & CEO of Go GreenBOV

Dhivik Ashok, Founder & CEO of Go GreenBOV
Dhivik Ashok, Founder & CEO of GoGreenBov

Currently, holding the position of CEO at GoGreenEOT (Energy of Things) Pvt. Ltd, Dhivik Ashok is the Founder & CEO of Go GreenBOV based in Bangalore and Gurgaon (India). Under his guidance, Go GreenBOV has been voted as a top 11 start-ups by Entrepreneur Magazine. 

Dhivik Ashok has completed his engineering from RVCE, Bangalore and has a keen interest in the Energy sector. He prefers keeping himself abreast with recent trends in the industry and also contribute actively in the field of lithium discussions. In his previous stint he was responsible for developing business for three MNC companies as a brand consultant and go-to-market advisor is his engineering academic background. 

Dhivik has been a keynote speaker at the ECS conference in Taiwan, a keynote speaker on advancements in Battery Thermal Systems at CES 2019 in Las Vegas and Electric vehicle and battery related seminars in China and Japan. He is one of the first few divemasters in India and an avid surfer. Furthermore, he holds 6 patents in the field of batteries and battery technology and 4 patents in the space of Connected Vehicles. Talking about his additional expertise, he holds a good command in diverse fields of Marketing, Dealer Appointment, Operations, Technology Upgradation, Energy Storage, Sales, and Marketing, and Legal. 

In an exclusive interaction with MotivergeDhivik Ashok, Founder & CEO of Go GreenBOV shares more insights about his venture, journey so far, motivation and future plans.

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

What is Go GreenBOV all about?

We are a deep-tech company that is vertically integrated to hardware in the form of our very own electric-two-wheelers and the software in terms of a platform that is built internally (in-built). For us, manufacturing electric two-wheelers for EVERY PURSE and EVERY PURPOSE is our mission and vision. We specifically focus on the battery pack designing and aligns our efforts to ensure the provision of high-end battery pack designing to ensure that our two-wheeler EV products are seamless and glitch-free. 

Tell us more about the founding team.

Go GreenBOV started back in the year 2009 as Go GreenBOV Pvt. Ltd and the Go Green EOT were registered in the year 2017. I am the CEO and founder of GreenEOT (Energy of Things). My expertise lies in the EV (Electronic vehicle front). I am adept in terms of marketing, sales, and new business models, I do have a deep understanding of the automobile industry. Before Go GreenBOV, I worked with three companies as a brand and marketing consultant . My efforts were instrumental in helping 3 companies to settle down in our country, by making effort in terms of sharing my ideas, out of box thinking and operational skills. Am a little fortunate to be blessed with foresight which led to creation of Go GreenBOV and also we were the first ones to venture into the B2B space of usage of electric vehicles. 

Our Co-founder, Mr. Ashok has around 33 years of experience in the Automobile field and was a pioneer in the conversion of petrol vehicles to LPG by the addition of kits in India, He is instrumental in streamlining the supply chain for Go GreenBOV itself. 

We have a very strong advisory board, Prof AK Shukla who is so far the only Indian to have won the “ElectroChemical Society award”. He enriches the functioning of the company with his vast expertise and experience. 

What factors influenced or motivated you to start Go GreenBOV? What seeded the idea of a startup in this sector?

Mr. Ashok was already working towards a good and noble cause, for the environment and reducing pollution level by giving his bit. As mentioned above, he was the pioneering personality in the conversion of petrol vehicles to LPG by the addition of Conversion kits in India. His inclination towards working for the good cause brought us together and that’s how it all started. This was one of the major factors that influenced us to come up with the idea to work on Electric vehicles. 

When we started the average sales per dealer was at around 4-6 vehicles a month in 2009 to now in 2021 at a national average being at around 15-18 vehicles a month, the industry has surely grown. 

What were the first few steps during and after the launch of Go GreenBOV?

It’s an extremely long process of learning and we are proud that we’ve already done that. The very first product that we sold in the market received a tepid response. For every vehicle sold there were four members of the same family who would come back and give the product back to us. At this juncture, we were contemplating to wind down business as we felt all the efforts and research that we had put into the product has boomeranged. The only two options left were to close (by doing so, vehicles sold and customers would suffer) or to correct ourselves and bring in better products. At this juncture is when I decided to continue with what I was doing. Stopping due to fear of losing was the wrong approach and we did not want to go down as people who quit, lost and were unable to give in performance that was guaranteed. Thus we kept fighting and overcoming the challenges. I focused on understanding the market and keeping an in-depth knowledge of the sector. In the initial years, from 2009 to 2015, keeping an eye for the prospects and real world perspectives helped us being the first ones in the industry focusing on the B2B segment where Amazon was our early client. We define ourselves as a visionary leader of the EV sector and believe in taking forward this journey of the EV sector with a deeper understanding of what we are working for.

Have you raised funds so far?

The investment involved would be around 80 crores as of now. However, we have raised our first round of strategic capital. We are close to finishing our second round of funding from strategic investors.

Tell us about your motivation. What keeps you going?

I think that every single day is a learning experience, with that thought coming to the office isn’t boring at all. There is a huge potential to learn from each other which is still unexplored and we get to the inside during conversations. The young minds in the present times possess many qualities which can be learned and appreciated by the previous generation. I go by the mantra that let the salary be your ‘B’ component and learning experience be the ‘A’ component when it comes to motivation at your workplace.

How has your journey been so far?

I am extremely glad that we have stuck to what we believed in. There was no market for electric vehicles in the year 2009 and it was a huge challenge for us. Probably, this was a significant reason to appreciate the journey we decided to begin with when the chances of being successful in the venture were quite less. I feel content to have witnessed the evolution of the market. We came a long way keeping doubts, insecurities, and challenges aside. We take pride in sharing that we have been a part of the few state government EV policies and we consider it as a major milestone achieved in our journey. Being alive and with the same get-go for the last 11 years without raising external capital is our biggest milestone. We for one have believed that if investments come in, it’s just added incentives/ advantages. But running a business successfully is our key objective.

How big is your team?

We earlier had a team of 96 people, and today stand at a headcount of 16 people. We lost/dropped a lot of them when we switched from B2C to B2B and when we started focusing on R&D. However, we are focusing on hiring quality talent and background from the highly recognized universities of India. We have a lot of opportunities for deserving candidates. 

Who are your major competitors in India as well as globally? What makes you different from your competition? 

I personally don’t take anyone as our competitor but rather consider them as the motivating factors to move and keep climbing high in the sector. This happens majorly because the market size isn’t that big to compete with others and that’s why we don’t see them as competitors but the ones with the same purpose as us. The thing which differentiates us from our competition is the fact that we’ve been in the market for a long time because of which we could understand what works and what doesn’t work. Besides, we have an in-depth understanding of the whole cycle of EV. The major difference is that others do treat this as trade and took this forward illegally, as far as abiding by the laws and govt. policies are concerned. Whereas we take this forward sticking to the rule of laws made for the EV sector and doing justice to make electric vehicles for every purse and every purpose. 

How did you manage your team and business during the COVID-19 outbreak?

The pandemic ironically proved to be a blessing in disguise for us. Post-COVID, there was a shift in consumer preference and people started moving from public transport to personal transport. This is when EV came into the scenario and witnessed a surge in its demand. Also, the rise in petrol prices increased after the COVID outbreak further pushed the growth and demand of EVs pan India. 

What are the business opportunities in your sector, especially in the APAC region? How do you see market growth and response in the post-Covid-19 world?

Majorly we see the business opportunities in people movement, movement of goods, and in the value-added services sector in the APAC region. We are keen to get a stronger foothold in the Indian market before expanding overseas. 

Being a startup, what do you think is the biggest challenge in India? 

The biggest challenge that we faced and that any start-up venture faces is when people pull you down. In India, the start-up ecosystem is not much supportive. Also, the start-ups do forget other start-ups when they start raising money in the market. They should understand the struggle and situations of others in the sector once they were in and come forward as a mentor or guide rather than being a demotivating element.

Please share your views on how our government is doing in supporting startups? 

The government is doing extremely well in supporting start-ups, as we all can see how India is moving from a dependent country to a self-reliant country position. Now, we believe in the in-house concept when it comes to working towards enhancing the technologies used for manufacturing a product and this will indeed give a major boost to the start-ups’ growth in India. The future is extremely bright for startups in the cleantech space and especially in the carbon reduction space. 

Where do you see Go GreenBOV in the coming 3 to 5 years?

We wish to become one of the ‘Maruti’ in the EV 2W space and occupy the leader stature in the electric vehicle sector. We envision enjoying 20 to 25% of the EV market space in the near term. WE have products to be launched in the same space. We would be the first ones in India or rather the world in the Electric Two Wheeler Space to come out with a battery pack which would be loaded with 8 years warranty and having a virtual key to unlock the vehicle. 

Awards and achievements, if any?

The company has been awarded for outstanding performance in the electric two-wheeler category from E-mobility and award from the former president of India, Lt. Pranab Mukherjee. We received another award from Samsung SDI for being a young innovator. 

What are your messages for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?

The only message that I would want to extend to the budding entrepreneurs and young generation is to be supportive. You should step up and help other start-ups from your sector and do not neglect their struggles when you start making/raising money as a start-up. We should focus on a collaborative environment rather than a competitive one. 

Hope this interview will motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our startup profiling feature story/interview series. We are on a mission to bring forward the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.

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