Udai Singh Meena & Amit Lakhotia, GetMeCab: Online cab rental portal by ex-MakeMyTrip employees
“The car rental market size is about Rs.20,000 crores & it’s growing at 30-40% every year.”We at YourStory.in recently caught up with entrepreneurs Udai Singh Menna and Amit Lakhotia to know more about the business idea behind GetMeCab, an online cab rental portal. In this freewheeling chat with YourStory.in, Amit speaks about the size of the car rental market opportunity, the fact that they’re a solid e-commerce play (rather than just a lead aggregator) and the dream of being the MakeMyTrip of cab rentals. Given below are edited excerpts from the interview:
Could you introduce us to GetMeCab?
GetMeCab helps you book cabs online across India from a wide variety of cab options. We provide convenience of booking, transparency in pricing and consistent high quality of service delivery. We have been using technology and improvised processes to solve pain points, both for the customers as well as vendors. You can rely on GetMeCab for all your cab needs including outstation, local and airport pick-up and drop services.
How is GetMeCab different from other online cab rental aggregators? What are your flagship differentiators?
We have a successful track record of building highly scalable online travel businesses. Both of us have worked for 3 to 4 years at MakeMyTrip and have built and handled significantly large businesses with annual toplines of more than INR 1000 crore. We are operating at a pan India level (currently, present in 4 cities) rather than having a regional presence and we assure you of consistent service where ever you use us.
A lot of existing sites act primarily as a lead generating mechanism for making the bookings offline. We are one of the few sites which treats web as a pure e-commerce platform enabling the user to make his bookings online on real time inventory, make payments online through multiple payment options and get instant confirmation. Our pricing policy is consistent – whether the customer books the cab online or on phone, he gets the same price for his requirements.
Tell us about your backgrounds.
Udai has been working in travel e-commerce for the last 4 years. Prior to founding GetMeCab, he was working as Product Manager & Business Head at MakeMyTrip.com running their online international flights business in US, India, UAE, and Canada. Udai has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and did his Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Kanpur.
I was the business head for B2B at MakeMyTrip.com. I built the B2B business of MakeMyTrip from scratch and took it to a level where it started to contribute about 20-25% of MMT’s B2C transaction base. I have an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering from NSIT, Delhi.
How did the business idea for GetMeCab come about? How did you zero in on the name ‘GetMeCab’?
We have been working in the travel e-commerce space for the last 4 years and have seen it grow, taking airlines, hotels, trains and finally, bus bookings into its ambit. We saw an opportunity to do the same in the cab rental industry which is currently highly fragmented and lack standardization. Understanding of the travel e-commerce market as well the size of the opportunity in hand gave us the confidence to take the plunge and start GetMeCab.Regarding the name, while searching for available .com domains, the GetMeCab keyword stuck Udai’s mind. He felt an instant connect with the name as he believed that it comes naturally to a user looking for a cab. The name is easy to remember as well and it wasn’t too long (8 characters), which were added plus points. Also, I guess there seems to be a trend with respect to e-commerce sites where a URL has a verb to start with (MakeMyTrip, BookMyShow, etc).
Tell us about the inventory that you have on GetMeCab. Also, what are the trends that you see as drivers for GetMeCab’s growth?
Currently, we have 25+ operators on board in 4 cities (NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore and Jaipur) who supply us inventory. This amounts to a fleet inventory of about 700 vehicles across the country. The car rental market is a Rs. 20,000 cr market and is growing at the rate of 30%-40% year on year. With more disposable incomes, growing urbanisation and inclination of people to take quick and short holidays, we expect this growth to continue for times to come.
How has the response been so far?
From day one, we have seen a really good response from the customers and we currently do around 300 transactions serving 900 guests every month. NCR, being our first city, still contributes the highest to our transaction pie. We started a bit later in Mumbai and Bangalore and have seen very good response coming from these cities as well.
The good thing we did was that we launched during the summer vacation season (April-end) and got to serve a lot of outstation leisure travels with departures from Delhi-NCR. We have booked all sorts of cabs varying from a Tata Indica to high-end, luxury vehicles including BMW 3 series as well as bigger vehicles like 14-seater Tempo Travellers during that period.
One of the things which surprised us was the ease with which customers paid us online, even though we are not that big a brand. I guess IRCTC, MakeMyTrip and other online sites have helped customers breach that inertia against online payment and customers are now quite comfortable paying online. We are also seeing a good percentage (10%-12%) of customers returning and using our services again so early, which again is a pleasant surprise and good validation.
Where do you see the online cab rental aggregator space in India and GetMeCab five years from now?
We see quite a few online players (mostly regional) coming into this space. As mentioned earlier, this market is highly fragmented and we believe that entry of more players will help develop the ecosystem, help to standardize the service/price as well as educate the customers to buy online. The players who are able to deliver good service levels would be able to win the trust and confidence of the consumers. The customer is already familiar with booking flights, hotel, train and bus online. So, the incremental learning for booking cabs online is not going to be that steep and we believe that it would be much easier to sell cabs online.We want GetMeCab to be the MakeMyTrip for cab rentals and command a significant share of online cab rental booking across India.
What is GetMeCab’s revenue model?
We currently have a performance-based revenue model, where we charge a commission on the transactions happening through GetMeCab. We also have our inventory management and distribution platform which we provide to our operators as SaaS and plan to work a revenue model around it as well.
What are the challenges that you faced while developing your solution? How did you overcome those challenges? Also, what are the measures that you’ve taken to attract & retain cab services providers on your platform?
Cab operators are generally not tech-savvy. In this industry, most of the cab operators do not use computers and don’t have proper processes in place. It was tough to make them understand the benefit of going online and use our system as well as implement few processes to improve quality of service. But as we have started giving them sales, these operators are realizing the benefits and hence, adopting the technology.
As the service level and pricing is not standardized it took us time and effort to segregate good operators and offer competitive and transparent pricing to the end customer. We did research about each and every operator we brought on board including talking to their customers, working with them on trial and inspecting the garage, cars and drivers personally before partnering with them. On an average, we selected only 1 out of 4 operators we met.
The suppliers are highly fragmented and regional with limited inventory. We had to get many operators on board to cover cities like Delhi-NCR so that we can provide a car where the garage is near the customer’s pickup point. The process of meeting, filtering and zeroing down on limited operators and still ensuring that we have a decent fleet size distributed evenly across geographies is something that continues to consume most of our bandwidth.
Also, we are bootstrapping. So, one of the challenges was limitation of budget. We were clear that we would not go for any angel funding as we wanted to create a prototype and run it successfully before going for funding. In retrospect, the limited budget ensured that we spent our time and money with focus. Having said that we believe that technology is something which will be core to what we want to do. So, we spent a lot on technology, got the best resources on board so that what we design is a scalable and robust platform.
So, how big is the team behind GetMeCab? Are you looking at hiring?
We are a team of six people right now, out of which two of us are the founding members. We have two employees handling the customer service and two in technology.
We are looking to hire good and motivated individuals in technology, customer service and business development roles.
Tell us about your plans for expansion.
We plan to expand to 3-4 more cities in a couple of months. Once we have a decent footprint, we will go for funding which we intend to use to expand further and invest in technologies including GPS and innovative value-added LBS services to the customer.
We at YourStory wish the team behind GetMeCab much success. So, if you’re looking for cabs to rent to take a short trip over the weekend, do check outwww.getmecab.com. Also, do let us know what you think of this venture and this story by writing to us at email@example.com.
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 3rd August 2011 | Bangalore