Over a drink, Raghunandan G and Aprameya Radhakrishna were discussing the frequent delays on outstation trips due to unreliable cab services. As frequent travelers, both felt the lack of a trusted, comfortable and organised taxi service in many of the major cities in the country. “The idea was to put all cabs under the same platform. We actually kept discussing on whether to become a metasearch engine and one thought led to another and voila, we stumbled across the idea to be an aggregator for the radio taxi industry in India,” reminisces Raghu, founder, Taxiforsure.
The duo realized that they have a good solution to address the pain point, and their initial research indicated that they will not be able to do justice to the idea by working part-time and their belief in the idea was too strong to let it pass . “We agreed to give ourselves 2 years of time to pursue this, if we fail in these 2 years, probably the failure would have taught us a lot more than the 2 years that we spent on our MBAs or at our work, if we succeed, then the story would be different,” says Raghu.
Founded in late 2011 – Taxiforsure’s first set of unknown customers came from intranet posts in companies by employees who had used its service. Later, Facebook ads and radio campaigns widened its reach. Currently, the venture does extensive online and offline marketing campaigns, facilitates over 2,000 bookings per day across two cities Bangalore and Delhi (NCR). “Operators and drivers are in fact our key customers. We’ve had some great success where drivers who joined us with only one taxi, today own a fleet of 100 taxis. Today, for the small guys who have tied up with us, we perhaps drive 90-95 per cent of their business,” says Raghu.
On crowded market and differeniators
At present, there are more than 10 players operating in cab aggregation space. However, Raghu feels the market is wide enough to accept more players as it is highly unorganised. Outlining the differeniators of Taxiforsure, Raghu adds, “ There are multiple players, but we have two things working for us. The first is our approach. Since we work with operators, it increases availability. For instance, even if one operator does not have taxis in an area, others might. This way we can make more taxis available. Secondly, our technology costs are much lesser.” On the back end, it works on a smartphone-based application, which can be loaded onto an existing smartphone. Taxiforsure also look at minimizing idle waiting time for a taxi driver so that they make enough money.
Opportunities in real Bharat (tier ll & lll cities)
While we see cab aggregators evangelizing metro and tier l cities, not many of the players are foraying into smaller cities. Raghu points out significant growth potential in tier ll and lll cities like Raipur, Nagpur, Ranchi. The disposable income is increasing in these cities and many premium services and hotels are being established, indicating that customers have an appetite. The growth of corporate entities and construction of new airports will only fuel the demand. Public transport is not able to grow at the rate at which the cities are growing. “However, every city has its own challenges. Adoption will be slow as radio taxis are not the popular mode of transport and are placed in a premium category in the customers’ mind,” adds Raghu.
Taxiforsure aspires to become the Makemytrip of taxi services – expand pan India and create a brand that customers can trust and get a seamless experience no matter where they book. The company is planning to launch its service in Chennai and Hyderabad, and will expand to 15 cities by 2015. “We’re working on innovative improvements in our technology, so as to improve customer experience,” concludes Raghu.