Working on the USP of one-way fare, this platform offers a solution in intercity travelTausif Alam
The platform OneWay.Cab offers one-way intercity cab services in over 35 Indian cities.
Not long ago, when Vivek Kejriwal (34) was working in the US, he got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. He was working with HCL Technology in the sales department. It was an incentive-driven job. During this time, he observed that while he was putting so much energy into making those incentives, which were still limited, he would have earned more if he had worked for himself. In the entrepreneurial field, he saw the sky as the limit. Soon, he decided to return to India with the aim of starting a venture of his own.
Although he still wasn’t sure what his unique idea would be, Vivek made it a point to keep a close eye on various sectors, trying to understand the gaps in demand and supply.
It was during a visit to a friend’s place, caught up in a discussion that he finally hit upon the idea he wanted to pursue — while Surat and Ahmedabad had facilities like radio taxis, the rest of Gujarat had trouble with intra-city conveyance.
Convinced he had a good idea on his hands, Vivek introduced the radio taxi service called Baroda Taxi Cab in October 2013.
While his venture was novel in Baroda, the same couldn’t be said about other parts of Gujarat, for example Ahmedabad, where Devang Sanghi was running a similar cab service called Chartered Cabs since 2012. Being in the same line of work, they knew each other well.
By 2014, the market of Surat and Baroda had reached its tipping point. There seemed to be no moving ahead in this segment.
Previously competitors, Vivek and Devang now sat down to brainstorm how to take the radio taxi service business further. The discussion, however, veered towards another pain point — inter-city travel.
They felt that it wasn’t right for customers to pay taxi providers two-way fares when they were using the service just one way.
Launch of inter-city service
The two taxi service providers, therefore, came together and launched OneWay.Cab in January 2015.
“Our key differentiation is that in the crowded organised travel space, we are offering value by charging only for a one-way trip in inter-city travel,” says Vivek, CEO and Co-founder, OneWay.Cab. Vivek is an MBA graduate and has worked with companies like HCL and Cognizant.
His 33-year-old co-founder Devang, also an MBA graduate, is a serial entrepreneur.
The service began in Gujarat and remained limited to the state for the first few months.
Running of service
Vivek says that he started the service with seven cabs and few resources.
For the first six months, they validated the idea. The whole service was very much manual then. There was no app for booking the cab service. It was through calls only. They wanted to be sure of product workability before taking the business ahead.
“Within six months, we got a fair idea. We had also got a good number of users by then. After six months, we started building the app. Though we were a late adopter of technology, within two months, we had over 40,000 downloads on our app. It was quite easy to convert the offline customer base into online users,” says Vivek.
Today, with around one lakh downloads, the platform provides services in 35 cities across states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, apart from Guajarat. It aims to connect Tier-II and III cities to the metros.
The platform claims to manage 3,500 cabs and has served 50,000 customers till now. According to Vivek, the platform has managed to cross $1.5 million annual run-rate with a healthy organic growth rate of 15–20 percent month on month.
Last June, the Ahmedabad-based platform raised $450,000 from the Indian Angel Network (IAN). The company then utilised the funds for strategic geographical expansion, to upgrade technology, and increase senior-level hiring.
They are in touch with a couple of investors and are looking to raise more funds soon.
Vivek, who says there is a lot of room for growth in this space, aims to introduce an inter-city cab sharing service and continue to expand in more geographies.
One-way, a growing market
According to India Radio Taxi Services Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2019 and RedSeer Consulting, the taxi market in India is estimated at $9 billion, with the organised sector constituting around six percent of the revenue market share. The taxi services revenues in India are forecast to grow at a CAGR of about 25 percent during 2014–19.
In this space, InstaCab, Wiwigo, GetMeCab, and Ola, among many others, are offering intercity services.
In September 2015, InstaCab raised an undisclosed amount of seed capital. In July last year, intercity taxi service provider Wiwigo raised Rs 4 crore in funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN) and two high-net-worth individuals (HNIs).
Experts say that over the past few years, intracity cab hailing services like Ola and Uber have grown significantly and optimised the cab-hailing experience to a great extent. However, availing intercity cab services is a big pain-point for the end-consumer. It’s largely dominated by unorganised operators who charge travellers exorbitantly. Hiring a cab for intercity travel (one- way outstation travel) is a big pain in India and appears to be a segment where at least a few multi-million-dollar companies can be built.