How a 30-hour-long harrowing train journey gave birth to OMitra
Connectivity seems to be the catchword today. There are plenty of apps in the market helping people connect, be it connecting people of the same locality, social connectivity apps or travel partner connecting apps. Joining the slew of apps for increased connectivity is OMitra, a unique Indian rail social app, aiming to solve most of the common problems that a train traveller may possibly face.
Vikas Jagetiya came up with the idea of creating a 'social app' for train commuters, after a particular harrowing train journey. He was travelling to Hyderabad from Rajasthan alone on a 30-hour-long journey and during that time he realised that the average traveller had to face several issues - whether it may be the inconvenience of family members having seats in different compartments, or the right kind of food, which station to stop and even basic things like travel and destination details.
Ideation and creation
"It was then I came up with the idea of creating an app that made train travel easy by connecting co-passengers," says Vikas. He adds that after booking one’s ticket on IRCTC, and receiving an SMS, the app identifies the SMS and sets everything up for the passenger: it tracks the train, finds co-passengers, creates reminders prior to the journey, and lets you know if you have been confirmed from your position on the waiting list. It also does real-time tracking of the train and its stops.
The app, additionally, helps you connect with co passengers and share rides along with them and allows one change their berth by communication with other passengers through the app. Other features include an SOS button, which ensures a security response within five minutes.
Vikas adds that one of the biggest challenges has been finding the right set of people who are passionate about the work and idea. He also adds that as a product the team is striving to do something very different: when the societal norm is to never talk to strangers, the app aims to remove that discomfort and get people to interact with one another. While Vikas is the sole Founder of OMitra, his team constitutes of three full-time developers and interns.
The team plans to earn ad revenue, and intends to integrate various services like food and travel into their product offering. “Currently, our focus is on making the journey easy. Our main proposition is to provide an easy-to-use train journey product,” says Vikas. Currently, the app has over 4,000 views and downloads and is growing at 10 per cent on a weekly basis.
The market and growth
The app world is slowly catching up with the train travel space in India. As of 2013-14, there were about 8,420 million passengers traveling on the Indian Railways. However, a report published by the Indian Railways states that meeting the demands and expectations of its customers is one of the biggest challenges it faces.
The team has also come up with a security app RISSTA that guarantees security for local MMTS train travellers in five minutes. RISSTA is currently available for the Hyderabad MMTS travellers. For their patent the team is working on a pending solution specifically for the RPF. They have worked closely with the South Central Railways and RPF
Also, with the growing number of people entering the digital world, the need for an intelligent system for train travel seems to be need of the hour. The market has therefore seen a growth in the number of train travel apps that help passengers by giving them all the data and information needed for the journey. These include RailYatri,Trainman and ConfirmTKT.