Even as the seemingly endless court drama and competitive sparring continue between cab aggregators, new cab and taxi service providers are sprouting by the minute. Whether they are players like Magic Sewa, and Jugnoo or even biggies like Ola and Uber, the sector is now bursting at the seams with companies providing commuting solutions.
And while users are spoilt for choice now, there is the problem of plenty staring at them, as they go back and forth between different apps to choose a service based on various availability, price and convenience. Ishan Relan, Shiwang Suraj and Apoorv Arora saw business opportunity in this problem and started Zapplon in Delhi in March this year.
Working as a super aggregator of taxis, Zapplon juggles different apps to find the nearest and cheapest available cabs, bikes and autos. The platform displays information to compare costs, and estimated time of arrival of all different cab services.
The startup provides cashback in the form of its own digital currency ‘Zapps’. Users earn Zapps for each ride they book on Zapplon, as well as for referring Zapplon to their friends. The trio got the idea of Zapplon on a particularly trying midnight, when there were few cabs available and those that were plying were charging peak rates.
“And then we faced the problem of price comparison among various players. Like Ola offered Rs 7 per km and Easy Cabs offering Rs 23 per km. We never really realise that we are keeping too many apps for intracity travel on our phone, and there were many more players present that we did not even know of,” says 25 year-old Apoorv.
The trio launched the beta and invited a few friends to try out the app. They soon hit their first milestone of 5,000 users. As of last month the team claims to have touched 10,000 downloads with a monthly active user base of over 5,000, and transactions touching 50 bookings per day.
Building the platform
Ishan and Shiwang, both MBA graduates, used to work at Knight Frank together, after which Shiwang went to Dubai. Apoorv, a friend of Ishan's, is an NSIT graduate, comes with a strong technology and product background, and was previously associated with Zomato. Including the co-founders and tech team, the overall team size of Zapplon is 15.
Market research and prototype was a key activity of the initial days.
“We got in touch with as many cab users as we could, to validate the concept and feasibility of the project,” says Apoorv.
Zapplon earns its revenue for every transaction that it has facilitated through its platform. While the percentage of commission from each player varies, the range is from two to 10 percent.
With the growing number of cab aggregator platforms in play, there are several apps that follow a similar model as Zapplon. For cab aggregators there is ScootApp and for those looking for the best value there is MySmartPrice. There also is Bucker, based out of Hyderabad and funded by Sanjay Enishetty of 50k Ventures.
Funding and future
As of 2015, the total number of apps on PlayStore was 1.6 million and in the Apple app store was 1.5 million. According to Mobiforge, by 2017 the worldwide number of app users will approximately touch 4.4. billion, of which 47 percent will be from Asia Pacific.
Though Zapplon solves the key issue of helping commuters choose between a plethora of cab aggregator services, it would do well for the company to look at multiple revenue options. Currently, the revenues it generates are solely based on transactions made on the other cab aggregator platforms.
The team raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in April this year from high net worth individuals (HNIs). It is in the process of integrating the recently launched bike taxi services on its platform as well, and aims to add self-drive and intercity services in the near future. Zapplon is striving to integrate multiple APIs and getting them to work in tandem while keeping the size of the app as low as possible.
Zapplon plans on utilising its funding mainly on product enhancement and user acquisition. Various other features like common wallet, hands-free cab booking, women’s security, offline cab booking, are already in the product release cycle stage and will soon be live. Zapplon will also come up with SelfDrive and Intercity on Android, Web and iOS soon. In the near future, the team is looking at B2B players as a source of revenue as well.