In the Indian startup scenario, it may not be as much the popular e-commerce sector or the rising food-tech space, but the urban road transportation business that is transforming our lives. Here are the reasons why the Uber-Ola generation of startups could solve some of our inherent road transport and traffic woes - many of which we have accepted so far as a way of life.
Cab drivers have become entrepreneurs
Listening to stories of some of these drivers can be good learning for any entrepreneur. I really liked this one - this driver who had to shut down his ‘spices’ business due to losses, found this alternative a good way repay debts, buy back property and restart his business. There were a couple of other drivers who shared their earlier experiences of having to wait long hours outside transport company offices to receive their paychecks. One had to even wait for weeks just to receive his salary. Not anymore - now their bank accounts get credited for their services on time.
Strides in our dignity of labour levels
Strange as it may sound to some, but many of us in this part of the world don’t seem to engage on equal terms with our blue-collared workforce. However, this seems to be changing, at least in the cab rentals space, with drivers now empowered to better connect with, and even rate their passengers. Also, as many of these cabpreneurs make good money, there are people from other walks of life and diverse economic backgrounds, willing to take up this lucrative opportunity.
Raising the bar in customer service
I generally give 5 stars to cab drivers except when they pickup calls while driving, that’s when I cut a star for each call taken. Each one of us may have our own way of evaluating our experiences and finding solutions - which may include directly communicating cab-related issues with drivers. It is important to share such feedback on a regular basis with the drivers so that one gets better service and future hassles are done away with. On the whole, great strides have been made in customer service, and passenger safety, too.
Bettering road safety and discipline?
This may take longer to reflect on the improvement scale but there are several players who are already creating solutions that could have a lasting impact. Last year through an initiative by Ashoka Changemakers, 80+ solutions were crowd sourced for making India’s roads safer. Today there are some exciting startups, directly or indirectly contributing to reduce the unacceptable figure of 1 road accident fatality every 4 minutes. Those like DriveKool (an aggregator for Driving Schools) could become potential change-makers by enabling more of us to learn/relearn the basics of road discipline.
Commuters are sensitized and evolving
Our urban centers have also seen increasing number of car-pooling and sharing services. Encouraged by the interest of road transport commuters in this transport-sharing scenario, there may be more innovative solutions coming up around our traffic challenges. Some of these solutions include the likes of Smider’s road traffic automation smart device, whose prototype is currently being tested and demonstrated to state governments. With the help of technology and such compelling initiatives traffic challenges may be considerably reduced.
Preparing to compete with the world’s best
The confidence that pioneers in this space have brought into the mind-space of other entrepreneurs is immense. We are also seeing a new generation of hi-tech automobile entrepreneurs keen to compete with the best in the world. A notable project is by the Mean Metal Motors team, who are developing India’s first super car. They have managed to attract good global talent, as well as the validation by communities, through crowd funding. Other moonshot efforts by young and confident Indians include automated cars and vehicles that may come into the marketat some stage.
Only time will tell how far or how high we may reach with these efforts, but one thing is for sure - we are on our way to challenging the status quo. Feel free to share your comments below, including information on other exciting startups and ideas you may have come across.