Rahul Jacob, Co-Founder of rideIT on their car-pooling service

For better or worse, technology is changing the face of India and our everyday lives. That’s a fact.

Be it the way we shop, transact, socialize, network, learn or educate ourselves; nearly every facet of our everyday life is changing rapidly.

Like it or not, technology is going to creep into many more areas. One such which is fast changing is “sharing economy” space.

Travel service Uber or lodging service Airbnb which received astronomical and insane valuations are two examples of this sharing economy. “Sharing economy” is a just a fancy word for letting individuals share or find shareable services at a scale. Basically take the P2P concept and apply it to physical goods/services. 🙂

Before I digress, is one such startup in the sharing economy space. They facilitate ride-sharing, specifically car and cab pooling amongst working professionals. Security being the biggest concern with such services besides other issues, claims to allow only verified individuals to offer or get a ride through their platform.

Rahul M. Jacob, Nairita Roy Chaudhuri and Sambit Das

Founded by ex-Infosys employees, this Hyderabadi startup is determined to work against all odds to change the way people perceive ride-sharing and succeed. Rahul Jacob, one of the co-founders takes us through his startup ride. So, buckle up.

[hero heading=”Rahul Jacob, Co-Founder,”]More for-profit social startups should be encouraged to help our entrepreneurs focus on real problems faced in India instead of blindly following business trends.[/hero]

1. The Pitch

rideIT - car pooling
rideIT is a rideshare matching service exclusively for working professionals. Employees can find colleagues to share their car, motorbike, auto and cab rides on rideIT. By authenticating users through their corporate email ids, we ensure a high level of security.

2. The Motivation

We started rideIT not because we wanted to be entrepreneurs for the sake of it but because we genuinely believed that we identified a problem (office commute) that needs a solution and which no one has been able to solve yet.

3. Powering rideIT

rideIT was started by two people, myself and Genoveva Galarza. She is a computer engineer from Spain with 5 years of experience in Artificial Intelligence and Website development while I am a Mechanical engineer with 3 years’ experience in IT and 1.5 years in Marketing.

We met in Infosys Hyderabad where we both were working at that point. It was here that we first had the idea of finding a solution to the traffic chaos that we faced every day to travel to office.

4. Ideation

The inspiration for rideIT was from the fact that almost all cars on the roads near office areas had only one person traveling inside (the driver), whereas on the other hand you can see 4-6 people crammed up in share autos to travel the same distance. It just didn’t make sense.

Our aim was to shift the people traveling in these share-autos into the empty seats of their colleague’s car. This way, lift takers would get to travel in the comfort of a car at almost the same cost and the car owners would be able to reduce their fuel bill by up to 75%.

5. Our Value Proposition

How rideIT works
Through rideIT, one can find colleagues to share their office rides with. It allows you to find people for daily office commute (Regular Carpool) without compromising on your time flexibility. Whenever your regular ride is not available, you can find a one-time ride (Casual Carpool) via rideIT. Additionally, you can also find people to share your auto rickshaw or cab rides with, making them affordable for daily use.

Other rideshare matching services in the market do not offer the kind of security we provide as we have created an exclusive platform for working professionals. Additionally, most competitors make money by charging a commission from users for daily rides which according to us is too high. We offer a completely free service and plan to generate revenues through other ways.

6. Initial customers & Market validation

After we started working on rideIT, we created a demo and showed it to the then Infosys Hyderabad head Mr Ravi Kumar. He really liked the idea and agreed to have a test launch in Infosys. We got a good response inside campus. We noticed that the number of cars leaving campus with 3 or more passengers increased from 15 a day to 65 with a peak of 105. This made us realize the potential of this idea especially amongst IT professionals. Later we had a test launch in 18 companies and soon rideIT grew into a carpool community with over 5100 users in Hyderabad.

Having validated our idea, we are now scheduled to have a city wide launch this January 2015 in Hyderabad and are inviting all major companies to participate in our corporate carpool initiative.

7. Growth & Metrics

We look at the number of registered users and daily carpool usage to measure growth. But the real growth will only be evident after our city launch in Jan 2015. We will be launching our mobile app then which will make ad-hoc carpooling very convenient for our users. We are very excited to see the results of this launch.

8. Growth pains & Lessons

Like any start-up, we have our daily struggles. I think the biggest struggle till now has been on the technology front. Since both myself and Gen are very particular about the features in the website and the way they should be implemented, we end up having long discussions on each feature. Additionally, considering the complexity of the features in the app and website, it is often difficult to make choices on what we can have and what to keep for the future.

However, the thing that works best for us is the way we have distributed responsibilities in the project. Anything technical, Gen takes the final call after considering my input and vice-versa when it comes to business decisions.

9. Growth plans

Currently we are preparing for our Hyderabad city launch next month. After this, we plan to soon expand to other cities and hope to cover the rest of the country by end of 2015.

10. Growth funds

We are currently boot-strapped and haven’t raised or attempted to raise investment as of now. We will do so after our city wide launch, so that we have something sizeable to show to any potential investor instead of trying to sell a dream. What helped us till now is the financial rewards from Microsoft (India) and Ohio State University (USA) for winning their respective social business competitions.

11. Hiring Effectively as a startup

As of now, we have largely depended upon freelancers for implementing certain features. There are websites like Odesk and peopleperhour which are a boon for entrepreneurs as they have many talented freelancers at reasonable prices. However, one should diligently check their prior work to know how good they are before hiring.

12. Trends in Ride-sharing market

I think the biggest news in the ridesharing space is the the entry of International players like Tripda and Blablacar entering India. The fact that foreign investors are entering the market is proof of the potential that the Indian ridesharing market has to offer. As we have been preparing to launch our product in this space and have customized our solution based on the India scenario, we are quite confident that we will make our mark.

13. Benefit from startup eco-system

Since we are first time entrepreneurs, it is always nice to stay in touch with others who are going through the same struggle. The Hyderabad start up scene is booming and is very friendly to new comers. Staying connected with few key members in this ecosystem helps us be up-to-date with the latest developments.

14. Areas needing help

We would be interested in raising funding after our city launch. After that, we also plan to start searching for good additions to our team.

15. Our Advice

Entrepreneurship is not easy and is obviously not an option if your are looking for a safety net. But it also has its own highs (and lows) which you’d not get elsewhere. I think you should choose this path only when you are passionate about a problem worth solving.

Why not rideIt?

(Please post your announcements, press releases or other requests directly to appropriate exchange forum forum)
(If you are an amazing Indian startup founder or enabler of startup eco-system in India and would like to be interviewed or featured on then I’d be happy to talk to you. Contact me right away.)

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Bootstrapper at Startups
Being away from India for several years, I'm always excited about anything Indian. I'm particularly crazy (read passionate) about start-ups in India and administer the portal for Indian Startups which started off as a platform to write about startups around the world and India in particular. Do startups interest you? Then join startups. Let's build startups in India together. If you need to talk to me in real-time, I'll be available on IRC channel #startuphub. Click to connect.

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