mGaadi is a call auto service from the India Drivers Network, a for profit social enterprise looking to organize drivers.
First, the real juice for commuters.
How It Works
- You call (080) 6768 4983 to book an auto rickshaw (right now, only in Bangalore)
The driver turns up at the appointed time, and actually goes by the meter! The meter fare (plus a Rs. 10 pickup fee) is directly payable to the driver. Night rates will apply as usual – 1.5X between 10 pm and 6 am.
- You can rate the driver.
There is an app too (the one in the video), and a few drivers have signed up for the mGaadi GPS Plan, but most are on the Basic Plan and work through the good old phone network.
Where They Are
About 450 auto drivers have signed up with mGaadi. They are looking to go upto 10,000 to make it always available and reliable anywhere in Bangalore. The service works much better for pre-planned trips, and as the GPS version gets upsold to drivers, hailing an auto within the next few minutes will get solved as well.
They’re doing a couple of dozen trips a day already. Interestingly, a lot of trips are regular commuter trips that people sign up for on a long term basis – almost substituting the personal vehicle altogether. This is a goal that Vishy Kuruganti, one of the founders, emphasized quite strongly for mGaadi.
There is many an incorrect perception about auto drivers. In a poll we did, we discovered that more drivers actually agree to go by meter than not – but the perception is formed by the other set’s behavior. Our aim is to bring all the good guys who are interested in more trips, offer it at the right price and are reliable onto the platform so the experience is completely different from what commuters have today with taking autos.
Why are auto drivers signing up?
For starters, it helps them cut down on dead miles just looking for fares – that’s a direct saving on fuel costs. mGaadi also works on trying to ensure they get at least a few longer trips that add to their earnings much more, and helps the better guys get more business. “A more regular, reliable income that the platform can ensure is very valuable for our drivers”, explains Vishy.
The Big Picture
Beyond the immediate operations, the India Drivers Network, which is a social for-profit enterprise aims to help organize the largely unorganized drivers’ segment – even beyond autos. There are definitely consumer side benefits to it in terms of reliability and improved, trustworthy service levels, and also financial inclusion that enables bank accounts, insurance and a financial history for access to credit, a better livelihood and standard of living and social standing for the drivers. The company is very driver-centric in the way it operates.
mGaadi is currently bootstrapped and is looking to raise an angel round. The current monetization is through signups and a small per-trip fee, but Vishy mentioned many more opportunities as they bring more services and benefits both to commuters as well as drivers. They’re investing into technology and experimenting with devices to improve tracking, the ability to call for an auto immediately and optimize routes, response times and eventually, realizations for the drivers. “We will eventually take on more cities and perhaps even more verticals on the same platform, but right now the complete focus is on making this work better for both the drivers and for commuters.” mGaadi hopes to break even operationally within 18 months.
It’s a pretty challenging task they’ve taken on – but one that’s really worth solving given the pain points commuters have. Rikshawale in Mumbai, AyAuto in Pune, RadioTukTuk in Gurgaon and EasyAuto in Bangalore have all tried to solve the problem & failed. EasyAuto continues to operate in Patna, Bihar, where it is trying to empower women auto drivers as well. Autowale, a Pune based startup is another player in the space. It did not work out for Autowale in Bangalore but they seem to be doing good in Pune, where they are headquartered. [Read: Why Autowale Pulled out of Bangalore].
mGaadi’s social focus, though, seems like a larger play that might be more attractive to drivers as well. The next time you need to take an auto in Bangalore, try taking an mGaadi.