Bangalore: It is common among frequent taxi users in Bangalore to exclaim, ‘finding god and a taxi is the same’. There exists a hefty populace which still depends on public transport and a little lower number depend on taxis on a regular basis. Occasional commuting is what has popularised taxis in Bangalore unlike Mumbai and Kolkata, where they have become a part of local commuting.
But in Bangalore, even with a miniscule volume of taxi dependent commuters, there seems to a demand-supply mismatch. Taxis are often out of reach when required. With more fliers and often weird flight timings, its dependence and notoriety has increased equally. Established players like Meru, Fastrack, Citi Cabs, Easy Cabs etc have been in the city with a certain amount of superiority because they have the advantage of being on the dictating side unlike the customer. If they feel, the distance is good enough, you get the taxi, if not you have no chance. Some do not have an option of a waiting period. There are also time frames for booking a cab. Timely service is no guarantee.
Thus crops up the swalpa adjust maadi mentality. The new scheme of Bangaloreans to get a taxi is palling the driver, getting his mobile number and sidelining the operator. Even blank receipts are available. So what could be done to solve this issue? Here comes a solution from IIM-Ahmedabad and its brilliance in the form of its alumnae.
Taxiforsure.com started operation in June, 2011 in the city. The start-up was formed by two IIM-A alumni, Aprameya Radhakrishna and Raghunandan G. The aim of the venture was to work with various taxi operators and enable them with technology to ensure that customers get an easily accessible, safe, reliable taxi ride for sure. The venture is an attempt to make it easier for anyone who needs a taxi on time.
“We believe that a consumer deserves a better way to choose from the vast available taxi options and do not need to call two or three operators with just a small hope of getting the right taxi. We play the role of an aggregator, a company that negotiates the purchase of public-utility services on behalf of a group of customers but does not sell the services. We do not own any fleet. The operators are transporters who know about the business but do not know how to get customers, how to build on socially acceptable behaviours, market themselves, acquire customers, etc. Here is where we come in along with the technological platform,” said Raghunandan G, founder and director of the startup.
After completion of a successful year, the enterprise is already growing by 40-50 percent month on month. “When we were working in different companies, it involved a lot of travel and a even more dependence on taxis. But the experience was not always satisfactory. In Delhi, there are about 20 operators who use technologies but are not known to the customer. We did approach some of the top players in the business, who were using a certain level of technology, but the initial skepticism is always there. So we tried to get the local players in the business and give them the technology,” said Aprameya Radhakrishna, also founder and director.
“The enterprise does have few value propositions like point-to-point and outstation service also. We are using the latest GPS devices along with a smart phone technology with geo-location sensor, enabling a user to reach us in just one click. The total cost involved comes down drastically and saves frequent calls, location finding hassle, etc. We will be launching the application in another three to four months. So, getting a cab in 5 minutes could definitely be a reality,” said Raghunandan.
Both the founders want to provide the customer with as much information as possible through smart phones. They will soon be launching their Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) site. It is a technical standard for accessing information over a mobile wireless network. A WAP browser is a web browser for mobile devices such as mobile phones that uses the protocol. “So the next time you book a taxi, the driver knows where exactly you are waiting and you would know where exactly is your taxi,” said Aprameya.
The founders have also done their part in terms of research and survey among operators and drivers to understand them and the business better. “When we talked to various operators and their drivers, we understood that the motivating factor for them was not money, but respect from their own community. When the operator or the customer shouts at them, they don’t mind, but when their own peer say something, they are hurt. So we have divided the drivers into sub-groups and if a particular group driver has done something wrong, then the whole group is effected, which makes the others in the group advice the driver. The effect of the bunch module has worked,” said Raghunandan.
The enterprise also has plans to motivate the drivers with various schemes which were unheard of in their business like insurance, mediclaim, educational loans etc. This will be done once we have a driver base of about 5000-10,000. When we have the numbers, we can easily approach an insurance provider. It will have a binding effect on the whole community. These are aspects that were taught to us by the market, it was not something that we had planned to achieve,” said Aprameya.
The founders are focusing on building the enterprise into a retail brand so that others can directly access them and book. To reach taxiforsure, all the customer needs to do is log on to www.taxiforsure.com or call them on 080-60601010.