This Navi Mumbai startup provides free wheelchair services to people with disabilities
Ravindra Singh was diagnosed with post-polio paralysis when he was just eight months old. He and his family dealt with the personal and societal struggle that comes along with being a person with disabilities.
"One challenge I am always faced with is accessibility. Be it with buildings, elevators, public toilets, or ATMs. As a person with post-polio paralysis, this is a major concern. I started thinking about ways to change this," Ravindra says.
Recounting a pivotal moment in his life, he adds, "I was on a tour to the Statue of Unity and the available wheelchair had been reserved for VIP use. There was no assistance either. That gave me the idea to start an on-demand assistance service."
This led Ravindra to bring accessibility, assistance, and mobility to the PwD community and establish, a social impact startup conceived to aid people with disabilities and the elderly.
How it all began
After founding a successful digital marketing company, Ravindra decided to work on a project that would create social impact and solve problems of the PwD community. He reached out to a close associate, Anil Pereira, who had worked with Askme and, to build a strong founding team for his myUDAAN.
“MyUDAAN was born specifically from Ravindra’s need to address the great challenges in mobility that a person with disability faces,” Anil tells SocialStory.
myUDAAN Founders Ravindra Singh and Anil Pereira.
India’s first free wheelchair service, myUDAAN, was made operational at Seawoods Mall in Navi Mumbai in July 2019. This service aims to provide a stress-free experience for people with disabilities and works to promote accessible mobility in an efficient way.
When their idea and strategy was still in the nascent stage, the self-funded CIBA-incubated startup contemplated the best way to improve the access to mobility and transport that the elderly and the PwD community require.
“The government transport system and private transportation are not up to the mark,” says Anil, emphasising that very few transport options are disabled-accessible to begin with.
More importantly, Ravindra and Anil wondered how to make their brainchild sustainable. They brainstormed a plan to make myUDAAN’s social services function without a glitch. Currently, the team comprises four members, with Ravindra overlooking Operations and Anil handling Marketing, Sales and Tech.
As of today, they already have 650 customers who are using their services.
“With myUDAAN, anyone who demands instant assistant services (indoor and outdoor mobility) can be catered to. Our app has seen above 1,000 downloads,” Anil says.
On the app, the PwD community can go to the ‘Book My Assistant’ option, which provides the user with a specially-trained assistant as well as information on the location they wish to explore. Through this option, users can venture out to malls, multiplexes, and large stores, without taking intense physical or mental stress.
Besides the app, there are other ways in which senior citizens or people with disabilities can book the wheelchair assistant services. One can make a call to the service number, or drop a message on WhatsApp, sharing their need or request.
“After many years, my mother’s desire to witness live dance performances was fulfilled today! Huge thanks to myUDAAN for this great initiative of providing wonderful, complete, professional wheelchair assistance for two hours! On my one phone call and an app request, the assistant was ready with a comfortable wheelchair right at the car parking. He was careful and polite,” shares Saraswati, a customer of myUDAAN’s services at Seawoods Mall, Navi Mumbai.
One of the greatest recognition the startup got was when the team featured as one of three finalists on Meet The Drapers, a reality television show that encourages crowdfunding for startups. They also got to interact with American venture capital investor Tim Draper.
Ravindra and Anil were also finalists at Social Alpha Birac Quest and Villgro’s iPitch.
The myUDAAN team was among the finalists at the BIRAC- Social Alpha Quest for Assistive Technologies.
The plan ahead
When asked about what drew him to founding and working with myUDAAN, Anil says,
“I always thought I'd be with mainstream startups. But with my third startup aiming for social impact, I am truly excited.”
Ravi and Anil plan to extend myUDAAN’s services to 24 malls across locations in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Thane. They hope to expand the scope of their project by the end of this year.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)