Once India’s industrial capital, Kolkata has been late to jump on the bandwagon of tech startups shaping India’s next change-makers. Things seem to be going in the right direction, though, with the opening up of NASSCOM centres, the recent funding for Wow Momos and events like Startup Weekend being hosted at IIM-C. The thing with such events and developments is they are what you make of it as their success depends heavily on the people. It is estimated only seven per cent of the teams at such events execute their ideas. One such team that weekend was Hoppr.
Hoppr aims to disrupt the public transit space via its air-conditioned shuttles or 'Hoppies', which will be going through demarcated routes and can be booked from its app. Hoppr guarantees a seat for users starting at Rs 20 and tickets can be bought both online and with cash. The company plans to have two types of Hoppies: HoppyMINI and HoppyMAXI. In addition to this, it plans to ensure each vehicle is Wi-Fi-enabled.
The team behind Hoppr met at the Startup Weekend. Harshit Gohil pitched this idea after experiencing smooth booking of cabs and struggling to get shuttles and quality public commute. He met Sanjit Roy and Abhirup Kar who now take care of Operations and Technology for Hoppr. Harshit graduated from St. Xavier's College and trained himself in computer science with Udacity courses.
The team went back to their mentors at Startup Weekend and their first attempt proved lucky. Rohan Ganeriwal, Founder of Roads and Collegify roped in Co-founder Adarsh Khandelwal and industrialist friend Raghav Poddar. This gave the three-man team seed capital, incubation space and expert guidance to make Hoppr a nationwide brand.
Current traction and future plans
Hoppr recently went live with two routes in Kolkata in one of the busiest parts of the city. This new app has been received well with the pilot users. Harshit says, “We plan to expand to 60 vehicles and cover six major routes in the city in the next 100 days.” In the next one year, the company plans to launch its service in five more cities with a special focus on Tier-II cities. This is an interesting strategy Hoppr plans to adopt as it expands, and it sits well with the boom in on-demand transport sector in India.
Market size and trends
The bus-services market in India is estimated to be $10 billion as per one of the early investors in Ola (Article). The on-demand transportation space is booming with multiple Unicorns like Uber, Ola and BlaBlaCar. Carpooling and shared commute is becoming a hot space, with both Uber and Ola looking into such services. Hoppr is taking a different take on it by looking at helping people book seats on its Hoppies. Hoppr is not the first company following this route; Shuttl recently raised $3 million and is serving the Delhi-NCR region with a similar concept. The others in this space include Mumbai-based rBus and Cityflo, and Bengaluru-based ZipGo. The public transit space in India is ripe for disruption with its lack of systematic booking and overcrowded vehicles. This, combined with a growing segment of population willing to adopt mass commute if safety and comfort is provided, makes Hoppr a startup to look out for.
It is encouraging and refreshing to see mass problems being tackled by startups from Kolkata. The city has taken its time to climb up the technology curve and the biggest challenge would be adoption of such technology by mass commute users. If Hoppr can gets users in its first city to mass-adopt its service and combine it with innovative ways to keep its business model asset-light, it could change the face of mass commute.