'I hope my journey makes people say — I can do this too'

Ranjita Ravi, Co-founder of Orxa Energies — the maker of Mantis e-bikes — shares the challenges of building a startup and the dire need for passion and role models in growing a business.

By Radhika Dave calendar 24 Mar 2024 Views icon8238 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
'I hope my journey makes people say — I can do this too'

Bengaluru-based Orxa Energies is known for its innovative technology solutions in the EV space. The startup, which was established out of pure passion for motorcycles, has emerged as a promising player in the e2w industry, with a focus on developing innovative solutions to address the evolving needs of consumers and contribute to a sustainable future.

Could you take us through your startup journey?

The idea with which we started Orxa Energies was that we wanted to build a bike that we wanted to ride. It’s that simple. Building a hardware startup is challenging, but we saw multiple opportunities. We saw the opportunity which others are seeing as well, in the 200-500 cc segment of motorcycles. We are reaching a million units a year now, in India. It's growing and it’s the unbeatable, unstoppable aspiration of India.

Even when I was in Europe, I would see their economies, and compare them with our Indian economy, and the trajectory of our growth. Two-wheelers have always been the thermometer of the Indian economy, and you can see how everyone is moving to this 200-500 cc space.

We said if we wanted an electric bike, we realised that there would be others too who would want an electric bike. My co-founder and CTO’s previous experience was in aerospace and defence and if you see how motorcycles have evolved, there has always been a lot of work that has come in from aerospace and defence into motorcycles.

That’s interesting. Can you elaborate on this?

The design and engineering challenges are similar. Volumes are very small and lightweighting is important. Power requirements are also high. You need to do something that is high power and supplies a lot of energy in a small,
compact space. You can't make this too heavy, right? So aerospace has the same challenges as motorcycles, and that's why motorcycles are probably the most difficult category to electrify.

At Orxa Energies, did you face any gender-related challenges?

There are not enough women in hardware startups in India and the world. If you see startups in STEM, and if you see startups in hardware, there are hardly any women founders. 

It's been been challenging for me to create a space and create a voice. And I feel a sense of responsibility to support other women founders in hardware, as well. And this is something that I find very important — we need to create that space for other women founders to come up. We need to have more hardware products, automotive, robotics, industrial robotics, anything and everything that is there in hardware and STEM, we need to have more women founders.

I hope people look at me and my journey and they say that 'if she can do it, then I can do this too'. It’s not such a big deal. I think that’s very important for any person who is starting out, to say, if they can do it, I can do this too.

Have you seen this transcend to the startup world?

The startup world is still a bit of a boys' club. It is changing for the better. I would tell women founders to just go for it and seek your support system in whatever way you can. Talk to other founders, talk to investors, talk to whoever you need to. If you have the drive, you have the passion, you're obsessed about your product, you should do it and not be put off by saying, 'Oh, I don’t see enough role models'. You have role models all around. You just need to extract the right advice from them.

What is your advice to women?

Don’t hesitate to seek out and build an informal support system. There are enough good people out there who want to help, so build the ecosystem to seek them out. List down all the things that you think you cannot do, the reasons why you think you can't do it, then throw that piece of paper away and do it anyway.

Everybody has imposter syndrome at some point or the other. If you don't try, you're going to fail 100% of the time. If you try, at least you know whether you're going to fail or not. So just accept that you're going to have a decent rate of failure. As a woman, I would say, bring a stool if nobody's giving you a seat at the table. You have to be okay with failing, several times, till you get better.

This interview was first published in Autocar Professional's March 15, 2024 issue.

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