Need a solution to the work commute problem? Flowerpot Mobility puts you on the right roadShalmali Prakash
Flowerpot Mobility Solutions aims to solve the mobility challenges an organisation faces for its employees’ daily commute by leveraging the shared economy model with cutting-edge technology.
At a glance:
Startup: Flowerpot Mobility Solutions
Founder: Ravikumar Kumarasamy
Year it was founded: 2015
Where it is based: Chennai
Problem it solves: Mobility challenges
Funding raised: Undisclosed amount from the Chairman of Polaris; subsequent funding from convertible round
The workplace brings along a wide range of stresses, but figuring out the commute to work can be equally stressful. While some people need to work out to-and-fro transport, there are many others who drive to work alone in their cars. Not only does this lead to traffic congestion and environmental woes, it also causes unnecessary wastage of time and money.
Carpooling comes to mind as the solution, but it’s often difficult to connect with people travelling on the same route. Ravikumar Kumarasamy identified this gap, and decided to launch Flowerpot Mobility Solutions to tap it.
Back to the beginning
Speaking of how the thought came to him, Ravikumar says, “When I had an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery, I was advised not to drive. I was trying to find an alternative to reach work, such as a carpool. I realised there were no good applications available to find people travelling on the same route, and so decided to solve this problem.”
Flowerpot Mobility Solutions was incubated by NASSCOM 10K Startup Warehouse in Chennai in 2015, and subsequently graduated out of the warehouse in December 2017.
Easing employee transportation
Ravikumar says, “Flowerpot Mobility Solutions aims to solve the mobility challenges that an organisation faces for its employees’ daily commute by leveraging the shared economy model with our cutting-edge technology.”
Flowerpot has developed an innovative and efficient algorithm to optimise routes for a work shift, taking various factors like maximum commute time limit, security personnel deployment rules, home pickup, and the available car inventory, into account.
The startup launched its first product Greenpool in 2016; this provides service to employees of organisations that have signed up and lets them find fellow employees travelling on the same route for carpooling.
Realising that safety can be a huge concern in carpooling, Ravikumar delved into the B2B segment, and joined hands with various large organisations. In the B2B scenario, since employees of an organisation are involved, a thorough background check on each employee is done to make travelling together comparatively safer.
Greenpool became an instant success, receiving prompt subscriptions from multinational companies such as Societe Generale, Wipro, and Intellect, among others.
Flowerpot launched another of its products, inTrac, recently to help ease cab allocation for employees in an organisation. This digital transport hub, developed on a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, leverages its powerful algorithm to bring down the number of trips and the total travel time.
Ravikumar says, “inTrac leads to 10-30 percent reduction in an organisation’s cost, and has got excellent traction from the launch date itself. We are already engaging with clients from multiple cities across India such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai, among others.”
Bringing it all together
Ravikumar, now Founder and CEO of Flowerpot Mobility Solutions, previously worked as Vice President at Polaris. In his 23 years of industry experience, he has delivered many multimillion-dollar projects across the globe. Chief Technical Officer Bala Sundarasamy, a founding member of Flowerpot, comes with 25 years of industry experience. He holds the responsibility for system design and decision-making when it comes to technology stack, training, among others.
Founding team member Martin Raj R is one of the few Android Certificate Associates in India, and takes care of Android development. Edwin Paul Richards R works on angular framework implementation and web application development. He is responsible for building an effective User Experience (UX) for the admin panel provided to the company transport head and supervisors.
Abhinaya Venkatesh manages product engineering and development, and also helps with pre-sales and product implementation. Saurabh Singh leads business development, and works with potential clients across the country.
Competition and the differentiator
Ravikumar says, “Mobility is one of the largest growing sectors, and we are likely to see more traction from larger organisations with the growing Indian economy and increase in commute requirements. With such a huge market, we certainly have competitors, but we believe we are already leading with our technology and global products market.”
With more and more players delving into pool mobility options, the market is tough. Ola offers door-to-door carpooling service with Ola Share, and also offers Share Express Service, which works along fixed routes that passengers can walk to/from for their pickups and dropoffs.
Uber recently announced the official launch of Uber Express POOL, a new carpooling service that will reduce fares from POOL rates by 20-30 percent. While Uber POOL is a door-to-door carpooling service, Express POOL changes this system by using a completely new algorithm to match users travelling in the same direction. Based on their destinations, the app picks a common pickup and dropoff point convenient for all riders on a trip. The service has currently been launched in the US, and might be launched worldwide in the future.
Ravikumar says, “A product such as inTRAC, which enables transportation services for employees in an organization, is a differentiator in itself as there are select few players which offer features and customisations like us.”
Taking it forward
Ravikumar says, “Chairman of Polaris, Arun Jain, is our mentor and was closely working with us in that capacity. He invested during the seed funding round along with Spark Capital’s Rama Rao and five other leaders from the industry. Subsequently, we also raised money through a convertible option round wherein Ex-CEO and Chairman of Cognizant Technology Solutions, Lakshmi Narayanan, also participated.”
Speaking about future plans for Flowerpot, Ravikumar says: “We see inTrac as a transport lifeline for any organisation, which will work as an ecosystem for all vehicles in the vicinity. It will also integrate car owners who are driving to work to participate in employee pickups/drops and get paid by the organisation in return. In future, we want to become the best ‘digital transport platform’ providers, and expand globally.”