Chennai-based DriversKart, an on-demand driver solution provider, has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A round of funding from ah! Ventures. The round also saw the participation of Sidharth Pansari, Apurva Salarpuria, Saket Agarwal and Ayush Patni, Silicon Valley investors, and Namit Agarwal.
The funds raised will be utilised for technological enhancement, enhanced driver on-boarding/training, marketing and team building (especially hiring senior executives).
DriversKart meets the travel needs of all by providing on-demand chauffeur services. Founded in September 2015 by an IIM Calcutta alumnus Vinit Srivastava, the startup is currently operational in five cities – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and Chennai – with a team of 20 employees.
At present, it has a network of 200 professional and background-verified drivers. It follows a per-minute pricing band, which offers the flexibility to pay as per the time used. Available on both Android and iOS platform, DriversKart app allows customer to request for a driver at a specific time and location. This request is received by the operations team, which sets out to identify a suitable driver.
DriversKart app has seen around 4,000–5,000 downloads so far. The startup does 4,000 rides per month and aims to reach over 10,000 rides a day by the end of this year.
With car density per 1,000 people at mere 13, the car ownership will continue to see exponential growth resulting in time lost during traffic and parking. With on demand chauffeur, customers will be able to dedicate their time to add more value to their personal and professional life.
DriversKart also automates the process of ‘Trip Time Calculation’, billing, and notifications. Once the trip ends, an SMS with details of charges is sent to the driver and the customer. For cashless transaction, it has integrated with Paytm. And its partnership with Instamojo adds value for a customer who has a long-term subscription.
Founded in 2010, ah! Ventures till date has invested close to Rs 75 crores in over 23 startups spread across varied industries and domains, including DriversKart.
“DriversKart’s ability to efficiently replicate the drives-on-demand model across cities will help them to aggressively expand pan-India. The team at DriversKart is well equipped in terms of the operational wherewithal and the entrepreneurial acumen necessary to successfully operate and scale this business,” said Harshad Lahoti, Founder and CEO of ah! Ventures, which currently has a network of more than 700 investors including angels and early-stage VCs. The network last year secured its first profitable exit from Ed-tech venture Harness Handitouch within two years of its investment.
Turning drivers into chauffeurs
The growing need of verified and professional drivers coupled with increasing number of car ownership came as a boon for on-demand driver solution providers. Today India is at 160th place, with 18 cars per 1,000 people. According to an industry estimate, the average level of ownership will increase to 35 cars per 1,000 people by 2025.
With 25 drivers on payroll and around 80 drivers work on freelance basis, Gurgaon-based Drivebud offers an alternative to hiring full-time drivers. It has witnessed more than 1,500 registered users so far.
Bengaluru-based DriveU offers a technology-driven, on-demand, affordable, private driver services. Until January 2016, DriveU has completed over 15,000 trips serving over 6,000 customers, of which over 60 per cent were women. The startup recently raised seed investment from Unitus Seed Fund to expand to new markets and attract new customers.
Apart from these startups, Mumbai Institute of Chauffeur Services is contributing towards training and grooming drivers with 'Chauffeur Training and Grooming Programme'. Founded in 2011, it has so far groomed over 1,000 chauffeurs.