In today’s digital world, there are marketplaces for everything; even for marketplaces! (Online fashion stores). However, in India, one sector that is yet to join this is driving schools. To bridge this gap, Drivekool was established.
“Drivekool is an online marketplace between driving schools and their customers,” Mahesh Gidwani, Founder and CEO, says, “You can book driving classes online, request for other RTO services like driving licenses, international driving licenses, commercial driving licenses, an address change, NOC and road tax.” It also provides free mock tests to help customers prepare for their learner’s license.
Like most of us looking for professional driving services, Mahesh and his wife too were looking for a credible driving school, one that could deliver services with a professional touch. However, they found the quality of training questionable. After discussing this with a couple of friends, the couple realized that it was a big pain point for many and there needed to be a solution for the same.
Mahesh had returned from the US in 2009, and had joined Perot Systems, and later Dell, where he met his Co-founders Saumitra Kayal and Kumar Gaurav. When Mahesh came up with the idea, he discussed it with his colleagues and the trio decided to do something about the problem.
Market and way forward
“Market-wise, almost every individual who is above the age of 16 is our customer, as they might want to learn driving and apply for a license,” says Mahesh. Apart from this, Drivekool also targets businesses that need drivers. “There is more demand for drivers than supply, so these businesses could be taxi aggregators, bus operators, e-commerce companies and food chain companies, among many others,” adds Mahesh. He further adds that this shortage of drivers creates a huge opportunity for driving training.
Drivekool, currently is operational only in Bengaluru, and has over 100 driving schools, with over 400 vehicles. The platform has over 2500 bookings and 1500 customers. However, the journey has been wrought with several challenges. Mahesh says that they were creating something that had never existed before, either as a technology platform, or as a business model.
One of the biggest challenges the team faced was convincing driving schools to come on board and later pay for the services. Another challenge was finding driving schools that are reliable and offer good quality services. “Driving school owners and their staff members don’t understand technology; that makes adoption slightly slower than we thought,” adds Mahesh.
“We definitely are looking to expand. In short to medium terms, we look to grow faster in Bangalore and then take it pan-Indian. This solution will have a huge social impact, as we aim to increase driving literacy and make driving safe on the roads in India. As per reports, we have accidents every minute and a death every 3.7 minutes on the road. This also causes national loss of over $20 billion. We definitely can’t take pride on these figures,” concludes Mahesh.
As of 2013, India was the sixth-largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. As of 2014, reports suggest that over 3.22 million passenger vehicles were rolled out. India also is the eighth-largest commercial vehicle manufacturer, and the second-largest motorcycle manufacturer. The total turnover of the automobile industry has been estimated close to $35 billion.
Since the manufacture of vehicles is on the rise, the need for skilled drivers too is increasing. Reports suggest that by the end of this year, the country’s road freight segment would need close to 51 million skilled truck drivers. With an increasing need for drivers, across various sectors like food, e-commerce, transport and delivery, these numbers are steadily increasing with each passing month. Will Drivekool be able to help streamline the unorganised and highly skewed marketplace? This is something we need to wait and watch for.