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IIT Delhi alumnus builds ‘Ola-like’ cab service for inter-city travel

Aparajita Choudhury
posted on 15th July 2015
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The online taxi-booking business in India has two segments.One is intra-city, where customers travel from one point to another within the same city.The other is inter-city where customers travel from one city to a different city.

The intra-city online taxi-booking market in India is picking up pace.But the inter-city cab-booking market is overcrowded with tourist taxis and round trip vendors, and is therefore, described as unorganized and fragmented.

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When Sunil Chaula, an alumnus of IIT Delhi,could not book a train ticket to Chandigarh, where he had a family funtion to attend, he had to book a cab.The vendor charged him for a round trip, as he would otherwise not receive the return fare. During the journey, Suniltalked to this driver, and formed a clear picture of how the taxi market functions. And that triggered the idea of starting Wiwigo.com. This was September 2014. He publicly launched his venture in April 2015.

Sunil Chaula, Founder & CEO, Wiwigo Technologies, says, "In the inter-city cab-booking market, customers face frequent issues with transparency, quality of service, and driver behaviour."

Wiwigo Technologies recently rolled out an outstation cab booking platform called wiwigo.com, where one can enjoy one Chandigarh at half price as compared to services available in the market.

Chaula avers, "If someone were to travel from Delhi to Chandigarh, other vendors would charge Rs 6000, whereas we charge only Rs 2499 for a sedan."

Pursuing the entrepreneurial dream

Chauhan has a BTech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Delhi, and graduated in 1997. Following this, he has 17 years’ international experience in product creation, technology, and team management. He spent 10 years in United Kingdom working for companies like Phillips Semiconductors and ST-Ericsson Mobile Platforms. Prior to founding Wiwigo, he headed product engineering division for Cadence Design Systems, India.

He started Wiwigo with seed capital of Rs. 5 lakh. The greatest challenge he faced during the initial days was leaving his corporate career and starting from scratch as an entrepreneur. His family and friends pressured him to continue his 9-5 job and discard the entrepreneurial dream.

Recalling his days of struggle, he says, "It took a lot of persuasion for my family and friends to align with me. Some still think that I am crazy, but I am okay with that."

As of now, Wiwigo.com is a self-funded venture.Fortunately, it has started receiving a lot of inbound VC interest. Having gained substantial traction in the market, Wiwigo is now in talks with a few unnamed angel investors.

Hurdles in the path to growth

Service quality and customer satisfaction are two of the major issues that plague the tourist cab market. The main challenge lies in educating customers to become more mindful of the whole experience, rather than just the price point.

Chaula, to an extent, has validated its idea by partnering with a pool of vendors who have established a huge territorial area by leveraging the platform of Wiwigo.

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Chaula states, "We see tremendous growth potential in inter-city, one-way travel. This space is yet to see the emergence of any credible player. In our view, the market is wide open. At the same time, this space is big enough for many large players to co-exist."

How does Wiwigo.com work?

Basically, they call it a simple three-step process -- search, select and book.  All one needs to do is to select their destination city and date of travel. They can then avail of a number of options, after looking into price details.

Expressing happiness over the success of his venture, Chaula says, "People simply love our one-way pricing service, which saves them up to 50% of normal cab rental costs. The pricing is all inclusive of state tax, toll, and parking charges. This is different from the norm in the outstation cab rental market, where prices are quoted on a rupees-per-kilometre basis, and state tax, toll and parking charges are extra."

The crucial advantage that adds value propositions to its services is that customers get updated through emails, SMS or phone calls at each and every point.

Building a profitable business proposition

It is too early for the venture, which is only three months old, to discuss its revenue generation model– but, in terms of number, Wiwigo is receiving around 400-600 bookings per month. Presently, with 400 cabs in place, it is serving in 20 cities and wants to expand to 100 cities by the end of this year. For the upcoming fiscal year, Wiwigo has set out to earn gross revenue of Rs 15 crore.

"Nevertheless, Wiwigo is always on its toes when it comes to innovating in technology and marketing. We are using various innovative growth hacking techniques to make our mark in the industry," concludes Chaula.

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