For the founders of popular e-bike tours startup BLive - who now host over a dozen cycling-based experiences in nine Indian states, including various Goan locations and a Madikeri Nature Trail in Karnataka's Coorg - sightseeing-centered travel experiences in travel destinations were something lacking a local immersion and green tourism practices.
A travel tech platform that offers immersive experiential tours powered by smart and savvy electric bikes, is how BLive defines itself. Co-founded by Samarth Kholkar and Sandeep Mukherjee, the brand is also an Airbnb Experiences host, and says that listing on Airbnb gives them the "much-needed visibility" to take their initiative to a wider audience, as a startup.
Some of these Airbnb Experiences include Culture Trails of Panjim, Discovery of Divar Island, Village Vistas of Cansaulim, Nature Trail of Chorao and Food Trails of Panjim. They are bookable on the Airbnb platform, and are recommended.
"Sustainable tourism is the need of the hour and it is not just a trend, but a more responsible and practical lifestyle, especially in a post-Covid world. We are slowly moving away from non-recyclables in our day-to-day life but there is a massive gap between the rising demand for 'sustainable tourism' and the lack of options," Samarth Kholkar, CEO and co-founder of BLive explains.
Kholkar also notes that tourist destinations in India are flooded with vehicles increasing our collective carbon footprint. Their solution? E-bike tours that merge local, authentic experiences with sustainability and eco-consciousness.
"We wanted to offer offbeat and unique experiences but also be environmentally conscious through our platform. We have tried to inculcate the same in every way possible. (For instance) we provide string bags made of cloth so guests can dispose waste if any in it and carry water and other necessities too. Similarly, when we launched in Goa, we used upcycled shipping containers as our hubs. This was all an effort to reduce waste and make the guest also a much more conscious traveller. With electric vehicle (EV) as a category growing we wanted to ensure that people make that as a consideration even when travelling. In most cases, it is actually the first time that people actually try out EV when they take our tour."
BLive's three-hour Madikeri Nature Trail, for instance, takes groups of cyclists on e-bikes -- that can be either a regular cycle or a battery-powered vehicle depending on how one flicks a given switch --- for tour of locations such as a dam, a scenic riverside spot, a local coffee plantation, and a high Coorg peak. All this while the cool Western Ghats breeze refreshes cyclists as they pass by picturesque spots.
Asked about their process of curating tours, Kholkar further explains: "We look at locations which have a good amount of history, strong culture and some very unique offerings in arts, craft or food. It takes us about three months to curate an experience. We engage with the local community to ensure the best experience. Our local guides, whom we call, 'captains' besides being great story tellers are completely immersed in the local culture, history and heritage. Our experiences are hence always unique whether its seeing the fresh Goan bread 'poi' coming out of the oven, or seeing hand made bangles being made in Jodhpur or seeing coffee brewing process in Coorg."
The 2018-established startup, which has conducted over 10,000 tours, says they are aiming for a pan-India footprint.
"Through our e-bike tours, we want to grow our presence in 200 locations in India. By end of the year we would want to be in international locations like Sri Lanka and South East Asia to start with. We want to accelerate the progress towards switching to EV which is made possible via the experience given on our tours. Thus creating a larger social impact."