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Rutogo gives a spin to booking cabs for intercity travel around Delhi-NCR region

Sindhu Kashyaap
23rd Jul 2015
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Planning a road trip for the weekend and unable to find the best cab operator? Rutogo ensures that you have options to choose and compare from the list of the best cab operators available in the locality. According to Venus Dhuria, co-founder of Rutogo, there is confusion among people with regards to finding the most economical cab service, and, often there is the added hassle of calling multiple vendors to check availability.

Venus says Rutogo came about as there is no proper channel of communication. "Rutogo acts as a marketplace where all the local tour and travel operators are connected under one single platform and from where customers can choose an operator based on price, availability and the rating of the operator," adds Venus.

The idea of creating Rutogo came to co-founder Aneesh Rayancha while he was interning in Germany. During his stint, Aneesh, used several intercity ride-sharing services like mitfahrgelegenheit.de. While he thought of starting something similar in India, he couldn't pursue the idea, as there were no like-minded persons who shared his vision.

When he joined Reckitt Benckiser, he met Venus and realised both of them shared similar ideas. Soon, they began doing research and decided to tweak their idea a little. Instead of an intercity ridesharing idea, they decided to look at cabs. The duo found that booking a cab for intercity travel was a big pain point in India.

Team @ Rutogo
Team @ Rutogo

"People use old-school booking methods for intercity cab services like calling multiple vendors and checking for price and availability of getting the car. So we started working on the idea of integrating all the tour and travel operators under one single platform using technology where the customer can book a cab based on the availability, price and rating," says Venus.

Pooling in their savings, the duo began the initial tech development work. Once the product was developed, they were able to pool in more capital from senior colleagues at their workplace, family and friends. "We're now a 13-member team with eight interns across different departments like operations, technology and marketing," adds Venus. Apart from digital marketing, the team has also partnered with corporates and travel agents.

Challenges

 Executing the initial idea now was a challenge. The main concern of the team was to get the tech aspects of the platform ready. The team initially outsourced the work to a software solutions company in Jaipur, but the task did not pan out as planned.

After months of delay, the company had to shut down, and it was back to the drawing board for Venus and Aneesh. Soon, they found another company in Delhi and they received their minimum value product after four months. The next challenge was to convince the local cab operators to use the platform. "Many are accustomed to the offline booking mode and convincing them to go online is a big task," says Venus.

Operations and traction

The duo started their operations in May over phone calls to cater to the offline market and released their Android app last week. Since then, the company has seen 2500 downloads. Till date, they've also closed over 300 bookings with an average ticket size of Rs 5000. "On a good day we fulfill around 12 bookings, generally ranging between 8 and 10. Our growth is phenomenal: over the past two months we have grown more than 250 per cent every month," says Venus. Rutogo charges a flat commission on the total booking amount.

Operating through a marketplace model, the pricing depends on the availability of cabs. The user then chooses from the options available on the basis of pricing. "Then based on supply of cars at a particular price point and demand you get the most economically available option at that point in time, where the customer can save upto Rs 2000 on the billing amount. This is unlike other players who offer cabs at a fixed price which is generally much higher than the local boutique vendor, as they source form the same vendor and markup the price," adds Venus.

He says that with their platform the team aims to optimise the inventory so that people can book cabs for one way and pay only 50 per cent of the cost usually charged in the market by other vendors. The platform has around 32 odd routes from Delhi NCR where one can book a cab for one way. Apart from this, Rutogo also offers cabs on hourly rentals for local city tours as well as a meta search engine for radio cabs like Ola, Taxi For Sure and Uber.

Rutogo is operational currently in Delhi-NCR and Chandigarh. Over the next two months, they plan to touch all the major cities of North India. They also intend to work in intercity cab ride sharing, which they hope will act as an alternate mode of transport.

The market

The Indian radio taxi market is pegged anywhere between USD 6 and 9 billion by different estimates and is forecast to grow at 17-20 per cent annually. More importantly, only about 4-6 per cent of this market is organised sector –the rest is by operators who own fleets of 2-50 cars and typically have a presence in one city. (Yourstory).

While the market is poised for growth and great traction, it may be awhile before we see an Amazon- Flipkart type price war anytime soon. At least eight-10 major players with fleet sizes of 10,000-15,000 cars will consolidate their positions in the next 18-24 months. (Yourstory). Today there are even aggregators for taxis, one of these include Scoot.

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