Delhi traffic, arrogant auto-drivers, trying to get a taxi, fixing a travel price… is this what precedes your important appointments and most looked-forward dates?8 days ago, maybe - but not anymore.
In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory.in, Abhinav Prashant - founder of YatriCab tells us how he adds a little order in chaos and makes the commuting madness a hassle-free journey.
Abhinav, Let’s get introduced.
I am from Delhi. I have completed my BBA from Sikkim Manipal University in 2010. Since my college days I wanted to start a business that can help the society. So after completing BBA, I worked on the idea of YatriCab.com instead of going to a b-school for my MBA, and finally in October 2011 YatriCab.com was launched.
And, your venture seems just as interesting as you. Tell us more about YatriCab.
YatriCab.com is a business unit of Krishna Bharti Group (KB Group); Delhi based online travel company, whose mission is to provide reliable, timely, and safe cab and auto rickshaw services. YatriCab.com provides complete information, pricing, availability and booking facility for local as well as outstation taxi and auto rickshaw cab services to facilitate the travel of individuals in and around Delhi NCR. A Customer can book a cab in just 3 simple steps without leaving the comfort of the chairs. She/he can book a cab by logging on to our website or can book a cab by dialing our customer care number 011-6464 7779 or by sending a message i.e. < Book > to 9555 3 22273.
So, is it just Delhi? Aren’t you planning to offer services nation-wide?
We are based in Delhi, but are definitely planning to offer services nationwide. The launch of our website seems successful as we are seeing good response from the customers as well as from travel agents in just 2 weeks since the time of launch. So, our New Year resolution will be to serve customers in other metro cities as well.
What were the challenges you faced while starting up?There were many challenges that I faced during starting up. Every step was like a challenge in the beginning. Completing a simple graduation from a correspondence college was not good enough to convince everyone that my idea would work. The next major challenge which I faced was of finance as I come from a middle class family. So when I didn't have enough money to start working on this idea, I convinced my family to close my Fixed Deposit account and used that money to start this venture. Now the idea was in front of us, but task of convincing the auto-wallahs and taxi service providers was not easy at all, who are still dealing with the passengers in their traditional ‘mom and pop’ style. So there were lots of challenges in the beginning and still do exist. We are still in the learning phase and are working very hard to provide our customers with best experiences.
How big is your team and are you looking at hiring?
Currently, we are a team of 2. We have a target to penetrate each and every city of India and provide taxi and auto services at your door step. For this we need a good team. We are looking forward to hire good individuals for marketing and customer service at this time.
How do you market your portal?
As of now, we have chosen only Google Ad words to advertise our services, and fortunately we are getting good response from this medium. But in coming days we are looking forward to advertising our services through social media channels and offline advertisements by which everyone can be educated about our services.
How many unique visitors come to your website every day?
On an average according to Google Analytics from 9th October, 2011 we have 39 visits per day, out of which 60.38% visitors are first time visitors and 39.62% visitors are returning visitors. The graph is increasing day by day and the number of calls too.
How does the revenue model work with the Auto-drivers/Cabbies you sign up? Do they have electronic meters or do customers pay in advance?
After every successful booking of Auto or Taxi, the travel operator has to pay some percentage of amount to us. And all the auto rickshaws registered with our company have electronic meters, that they run by - so a customer has to pay the amount which is being decided by the government for Auto-Rickshaws or Radio Taxis.
But if a customer is booking online via our website then they have to pay us the service tax and some percentage of fare which is adjustable in the total fare after their successful journey, and if they are booking their cab or Auto over the phone by calling us or by sending sms then they need not have to pay in advance.
Is the tariff-card different than the regular ones?
In case of Auto Rickshaws the tariff-card is same, and for private cabs the tariff card is different for city and outstation bookings.
Do you also take responsibility of the travel w.r.t passenger safety/ details of the driver, etc? Do you provide any extra facilities to your customers?
YatriCab.com is an online travel agent and it does not operate taxi or auto-rickshaw services of its own. So our responsibilities include only booking a valid cab and issuing a valid ticket (a ticket that will be accepted by the Taxi or Auto-Rickshaw operator) for its’ network, providing refund and support in the event of cancellation and providing customer support and information in case of any delays / inconvenience. However, we keep details of the cab or auto rickshaw providers, so in the future if anything goes wrong then we can provide details of those cabs.
Also to ensure safety of the customer, two hours prior to journey we send SMS to our customers including the registration no. of cab, driver name and driver phone number by which a customer can easily track that driver while waiting for the cab.
Are there other players in the market doing similar things? How are you different from them?
Currently, no one provides online booking facilities for auto rickshaws inDelhi and NCR. And if I talk about the Taxis - then there are individual operators who provide online bookings but they are do not give the option to customers to chose or reject a cab at the same time. E.g. Meru cabs, Easy cabs etc - they provide online booking of cabs but they never display their fare-charts during the booking time, neither do they display the information about cabs like whether it has music systems, A/C or DVD player etc.
Contrary to that, if a customer books a cab from our website, he/she will have a variety of options to choose from, and to compare different cabs.
What are your greatest challenges and how do you prepare to cope with them?
The basic challenge which I am facing right now is of finding a good team, and for this we are continuously looking for individuals who like facing challenges, are innovative, dynamic, enterprising, and proactive. The second greatest challenge is - living up to the promises we make to customers and for this, we constantly work very hard to satisfy the needs of our customers, and the third challenge would be to raise capital for our venture.
I’m sure you look at your venture as an 8 days old baby. How does it feel? :)
True. We have just started from the scratch and by looking at the response of the customers we are highly motivated to make "YatriCab.com" as a brand on which a customer can rely. We believe in communication, so we try to be in touch with our customers as much as we can. We take feedback very seriously and being a young company every feedback is a great source of learning. We have a big dream to serve each and every individual of India and make India a hassle free travel zone. We are constantly working hard to achieve this dream.
Check out YatriCab for further details. And, do not forget to share your thoughts on this venture by leaving a comment.