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Chennai-based DriversKart aims to solve everyday commute problems by providing personalised chauffeur services

Sindhu Kashyaap
1st Dec 2015
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A wedding in the family, dropping the kids off at school when both of you are working, finding a parking spot when you rush out to an important meeting. Your daily commute is fraught with little challenges, and booking a cab or an auto is not always an option. It was to solve these little problems that DriversKart was born.

It’s a mobile app that provides verified professional drivers on demand. All you have to do is book a driver and a verified and trained chauffer drives you around in your own car. The idea came to Saksham Grover, when he was partying with his friends one evening. Like most cases, one of his friends refused to drink, as he was the designated driver.

Pooling in the ideas

This got Saksham thinking, and after interacting with his other close associates, he realised there were several instances where people needed a reliable drive at short notice. There were several use cases – dropping family members around on a working day, finding a parking spot on a busy street – the list was endless.

At the time, Vinit Srivastava and Lakshmi Potluri were also looking at working on a similar startup. Badminton buddies Saksham and Vinit discussed the idea one day, and finding themselves on the same page, included Lakshmi to create DriversKart.

Founding team @ DriversKart
Founding team @ DriversKart

Addressing road bumps

“We provide you with professional, background-verified drivers, who can take you around in the comfort and safety of your own car. DriversKart is all about offering a perfect blend of professionalism, security, and convenience,” says Vinit.

He adds that their startup aims to create a platform that meets the need for a reliable chauffer, who is available on-demand. DriversKart follows a per-minute pricing band, which offers the flexibility to pay as per the time used.

They provide service in the following segments:

  • Driver on demand
  • Subscription packages
  • Valet parking

DriversKart’s users typically include:

  • People preferring to travel in their own car, but not wanting to drive themselves
  • People travelling to office/other places within the city, who like to multi-task during their travel time
  • People visiting places like shopping malls/ hospitals/ religious places, who prefer to avoid the hassle associated with parking
  • People going out partying, who would prefer being driven back to their homes
  • Families where both parents work, who prefer having their kids dropped to and picked from school/ tuition

 Working models

Available on the Playstore and AppStore, the app lets the customer request for a driver at a specified time and from a specific location. This request is received by the operations team, which sets out to identify a suitable driver.

The process of ‘Trip Time Calculation’, billing and notifications are completely automated. Once the trip ends, an SMS with details of charges is sent to the driver and the customer.

For a cashless transaction, DriversKart is integrated with Paytm for wallet and online payments. For a customer who has a longer-term subscription, they have partnered with Instamojo.

Onboarding drivers

The team has always believed that their drivers are their key assets, and their method of sourcing and screening them forms the foundation of their enterprise. They have set certain non-negotiable characteristics to help weed out doubtful and suspicious profiles.

They only onboard drivers who successfully clear their five-phased screening test. This includes aspects that help them evaluate their overall personality, technical knowledge and behavioural etiquette, in addition to their driving skills.

Once selected, they are taken through detailed behavioural and app-based training as identified in the DriversKart manual. The team also provides them with a Driver Checklist and complete kit comprising a t-shirt, bag, cleaning cloth, and floor mat, among others. For drivers who don’t have a smartphone, mobile phones are provided against a deposit .

Vinit says their focus has been to ensure that they have verified and trained drivers, who deliver great customer experience. He says they have developed innovative processes to identify and manage drivers in a predictable manner, and keep drivers motivated through regular income, supplemented by incentives based on performance. “Our key strength is in matching the customer requirements with the driver profile,” he adds.

The core team

Prior to Driverskart, Saksham was working as a senior product developer at Cognizant Mobility. An engineer, his strength lies in his strong understanding of usability, scalability, performance, and optimisation. Lakshmi, an alumna of Columbia University, is an angel investor, mentor and advisor, and has been part of the founding team of Jabong. She has also worked for IBM and Goldman Sachs.

Vinit is a graduate from IIM Calcutta with over 15 years of experience in the education, healthcare, ITeS, and hospitality segments. He has also co-founded the pre-school chain Little Einstiens, and is a member of The Chennai Angels, LetsVenture, and a charter member at TiE Chennai.

On the operations side, they have dedicated people handling activities such as marketing and business development, customer care and driver management, finance and accounts. “Our supply head has experience heading similar activities at TaxiForSure, and is an expert in driver operations and supply. We are keen on bringing people with relevant domain expertise, coupled with a great attitude, who will work toward the common vision of DriversKart,” adds Vinit.

DriversKart follows an aggregator-based, asset-light model that offers driver services to customers across India. DriversKart does not own any cars; the business model involves having tie-ups with driver agencies and onboarding independent drivers. “We have had a high repeat rate and encouraging feedback from customers who have been satisfied with our services,” adds Vinit.

DriversKart also has a subscription model, which allows one to buy hours in a block of 10 hours, starting at Rs 799. The team is currently bootstrapped and are in the process of closing their first round of funding

Mileage seen

The team claims to be seeing a month on month growth of 300 per cent and are fulfilling about 80 to 100 rides in a day. They have onboarded a team of over 70 drivers. “We have partnerships with all the key pubs, clubs, leading hospitals and hotels chains and have a 100 per cent conversion rate,” says Vinit.

Currently, they’re a core team of six members, supported by an operations team, managing a pool of drivers. They are looking to expand their presence across multiple cities and managing a pool of over 1,000 drivers in the next few months.

For the future, the team is working on building a predictability engine, and other customer-friendly features that will help increase customer loyalty.

Others in the space

Apart from other small driver operators, DriversKart is similar to DriveU. Both organisations are founded by strong teams, and are looking to solve similar problems. However, both companies fall under the ‘Habit Forming’ group, creating which is an uphill task.

Car ownership in India is currently at 13 per 1,000 people. It is expected to increase 6x in the years to come. With increased car ownership, and the infrastructure to support it not growing at the same pace, traffic problems will only worsen. For car owners, this would means more time stuck in traffic.

Having a professional do the hard work of navigating tiresome snarls can prove a win-win situation for all involved.

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