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Bootstrapping with a revenue of $5mn, how CASHurDRIVE aims to transform outdoor advertising

Sindhu Kashyaap
23rd Nov 2016
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You are stuck in one of the longest traffic jams you have ever seen; the games on your phone have timed out, and you have listened to as much radio as you can stand. The only thing you can do now is look around. And you cannot but help notice the Volvo bus carrying an interesting advertisement.

Transit advertising is growing much more than you would believe, and started in Chandigarh and now based out of Delhi CASHurDRIVE has witnessed the industry’s growth over the past seven years.

Within the city, commutes that last more than an hour are no longer a rarity. It was during one such wait that Raghu Khanna came up with the idea of CASHurDRIVE, an on-vehicle advertising platform. In 2009, when YourStory spoke to Raghu, he had said,

“An idea to convert traffic into business opportunities came to me when I was driving and got stuck in traffic. The funny slogan behind trucks and vinyl stickers on police jeeps kept me busy and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. The idea of charging advertisers to put their messages on privately owned vehicles clicked with me.”

The company that started with the simple idea of cashing in on your personal vehicle through branding today claims to be one of the biggest transit media advertising platforms in the country.

For Raghu, the journey began when he received his admission at the London School of Economics. But that fateful traffic jam changed the plans he had. Starting with Rs 20,000, Raghu began with the registering of the company in Chandigarh and building a company website.


cashurdrive

Working in a nascent market

Reminiscing of the early days, Raghu says,

“People doubted its credibility and effectiveness. Even the cab companies were sceptical about the business model, their vehicle maintenance and the perception of their fleet in the market.” The biggest challenge was to convince them that the media can perform wonders.

“It took time, but gradually, the taxi operators agreed to associate with us. Seven years ago, the industry didn’t have a business model where advertisers paid vehicle owners in return for advertising. I was warned, advised and cautioned against the pitfalls of an idea that did not exist. But our belief and teamwork kept us going,” says Raghu.

CASHurDRIVE say that they have a network of over 6,500 airport cabs, 200,000 autos and 4,500 private vehicles, and an annual revenue of $5 million.

Starting with two people in 2009, CASHurDRIVE today has a team of over 100 people working across six metro cities. Currently, they have their own in-house printing setup, are present in 23 cities, and have offices established in major cities like Noida, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

“Apart from this, we are sharing excellent professional relations with the foremost airlines of the country, including Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Indigo, GoAir and Air Asia,” says Raghu.

India still a small market

Transit advertising as a concept isn’t new, especially in evolved markets like London and New York. One of the most commonly used locations for transit advertising in London is the famous London Tube and their buses.

It is, in fact, an important part of the global outdoor advertising market. The space has a projected growth of CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) 5.44 percent. According to a report by OOH, there were 68,500 displays made in airports, 205,426 bus displays, 184,078 subway and rail face displays, 1,200 mobile billboards, over 2,700 trucks and more than 50,000 taxis as of last year.

The report also suggested that transit advertising contributed to over 16 percent of outdoor advertising over the last year.

The growth in transit advertising just validates the fact that the number of people spending time on travel and in the outdoors has considerably increased. While India still has a long way to go to compete with global players and global advertising agencies like O&M and JWT, there are startups like Mumbai-based Fractal Media venturing into the space.

Indian marketers, however, are yet to actively look at transit advertising as a major part of their advertising spend. Many are still restricted to the more traditional forms of advertising like TV, print and radio. Also, when it comes to transit advertising, there are several cumbersome government rules and regulations that one needs to abide by.

Raghu, however, believes that the market is changing and adapting quickly.

Tying up with corporates

Explaining the growth they have seen, Raghu says,

At CASHurDRIVE, we provide a complete outdoor solution and have authorised rights for advertising on leading cab fleets like Meru Cab, Mega, Wings, Fast Track and Easy Cabs.

The company is also working with IRCTC for train advertising options, the latest being leaflet distribution inside Shatabdi for MakeMyTrip.or

CASHurDRIVE is also adopting and devising advanced techniques and measures, including mall branding, activations, cinema branding and retail branding.

Raghu adds that they aim to provide a non-traditional mode of advertisement to brands in order to create a source of revenue for drivers as well as vehicle owners.

“CASHurDRIVE brings both advertisers and vehicle owners together on the same platform so as to ensure that vehicles are monitored and the right advertisement reaches the right set of customers. CASHurDRIVE plans to make transit media an integral part of the outdoor advertising industry in India,” says Raghu.

While, as per government and municipal corporation regulations, only airport taxis are subsidised with advertising, Raghu says that CASHurDRIVE has been associated with cab aggregators for a while now, and also holds exclusive marketing rights for major operators present at the pan-India level. Also being a DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) registered agency, makes working on publicity assignments easier for CASHurDRIVE.

Strategic partnerships

In Raghu’s words, CASHurDRIVE was started with a rough idea of on-vehicle advertising. It rests on the idea that the fun and witty slogans that capture the attention of users on a daily basis can be leveraged easily by advertisers.

Despite being a simple idea, the thought behind it and the innovative approach used can attract a huge number of eyeballs in the industry. CASHurDRIVE has also recently tied up with ‘Autotab’ to create extended advertising space that is integrated with innovation.

In order to build a customer experience zone inside 1,000 moving autos in Delhi, each auto will carry an unbreakable panel, a 10.1 inch android GPS-enabled tablet, a brochure holder and mobile charging points for passengers.

The tablets will showcase interesting content along with visual advertisements of different brands. Other similar initiatives have come in the form of road shows done for an amusement park in Bengaluru and many more in various cities, escalator branding for a telecom partner, in-flight cookie sampling for an FMCG brand, and paper cups advertising, to mention a few.

The CASHurDRIVE team also invested in RoomOnCall, which, according to them, was a strategic move. Raghu explains that whether it is a tourist or a business traveller, they need to be driven to a hotel or accommodation. And a tie-up with a partner in the hospitality segment made sense.

Looking ahead

Apart from basic outdoor advertising and wrapping assignments, the team claims to have started exploring barter or non-cash deals. They have also directed their attention to brand engagement, associations and sponsorship, and are even focusing on seizing Media Partner or Outdoor Partner titles.

The team had been roped in as the official outdoor partner for Kings XI Punjab thrice (IPL seasons 7, 8 and 9) and once for the Gujarat Lions in season 9. They have also been the media partners for a few movies.

Raghu adds,

We are focusing on enhancing our clientele’s capabilities by providing them soothing media solutions considering their reach and target audience. From auto promotion and BTL activation to premium in-flight and airport taxi branding, we are performing almost everywhere. Other innovations like digital screens inside the cabs and 3D printing projects are also in the pipeline. We also intend to expand to South-East Asia.

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