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How a two wheeler shared mobility startup solving the last mile connectivity issue in India

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The two-wheeler bike and taxi tech platform player, Rapido looks to tap into the changing needs of customers following the Covid-19 pandemic. Rishikesh S R, Co-Founder, Rapido tells Express Computer how Rapido is using technology to propel newer models that will help serve end users as well as businesses in the post Covid world

How has been the Rapido’s journey in India so far ? How are you contributing in solving the India’s mobility issues?

Founded in 2015, Rapido is the pioneer in the bike taxi segment. The product was built to address the last mile connectivity gaps that customers face even with the availability of public transportation. Our disruptive service model has paved a whole new way to travel, with ease and speed, which aims towards building an affordable commuting ecosystem in order to solve Indian mobility issues. Making that empty pillion seat earn money for the bikers has helped us address that by using already available infrastructure and vehicles for commuting. Today, we are present in close to 100 cities serving over 10 million customers with 15 lakh+ registered Captains (driver partners). Our strongest markets include Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Chennai, Patna, etc. We are the third largest ride sharing platform in the country with 10 million transactions a month.

How have you converted the last mile connectivity issue into an opportunity, especially in the lockdown period? How bike taxis are filling the first and last mile connectivity gaps in India?

Vehicle ownership in India is less. Hardly 18-20 per cent people own a vehicle, that means 80 per cent people still don’t have their own vehicle. People in Tier II, III and beyond towns and cities have limited public transport solutions, some do not even have a vehicle available late in the evenings, making it difficult to look for an affordable option to travel within the city and getting shared autos are a hassle especially if you are a woman. When the pandemic hit, a huge problem statement was the need for a safe and secure affordable commute, especially for blue collar workers and office commuters depending on buses and trains.

Currently, there aren’t many options for last-mile connectivity that are economical and efficient. Hence, the gap is still wide, where bike taxis fit suitably as a viable option. India is the largest 2-wheeler producer and consumer in the world. In spite of that, the 2W ride sharing penetration is quite low. But it has a potential of creating 5M+ livelihood opportunities. With the existing asset utilisation, especially in tier II and III cities, we came up with a highly scalable model to address the last mile connectivity gaps.

How is technology reshaping the mobility sector in India?

When we built Rapido 5 years ago, we built it by using cloud and other micro services, keeping in mind the need to scale the business in the long run and to keep the business agile as needed. We believe adoption of cloud gave us an edge, especially during this time, to cater to the demand of the environment and scale as per need. We leveraged technology to automate onboarding captains in 80-90 per cent of cases.

We invested in data platforms to look at converting data that we have into insights and put forward better pricing, better Captain placements at locations, making them available during peak hours, etc. Despite having a compact team of 35 engineers, we kick started new business verticals in a matter of 3-5 weeks. Being a mobile-first company helped us cater to markets and localise content which enabled us in expanding to Tier II and III markets. We could build innovative features for our Captains like automatic snooze functionality to understand in real time when the Captain is not available. We also automated most of our processes to enable faster processing of requests. Rapid urbanisation and rising motorization are fuelling India’s demand for mobility and leading to inevitable mobility challenges such as congestion, air pollution, and increased time of travel. A robust, efficient and clean urban mobility infrastructure, that encourages urban dwellers to opt for public transport and shared mobility solutions over individual transport, is the solution to India’s mobility challenges.

Can you tell us about the future of mobility in India, post Covid?

Post Covid, co-riding will continue to be pre-dominant in most cities in India. Today, because public transport has been disrupted, we are providing an affordable, safe and convenient travel option for our customers in India. At Rapido, we are constantly aiming to ensure our customers are safe and well taken care of. And hence a large part of our innovations and technology is focused at perfecting to make every journey a safe one.

We are trying to help change consumer behaviour towards safety, by helping them embrace the new norms through best practices when it comes to precautions, like bringing their own helmet, and avoiding stepping out. We recently introduced Rapido Safety Shields, a first of its kind safety measure program by a bike taxi player in the country, to further increase the safety aspect of using bike taxi during this ongoing pandemic.

Rapido has been operating delivery services for e-commerce companies for close to 2 years now namely Zomato, Swiggy, Delhivery.com, Myntra, Eat.Fit. SuprDaily, Mapprr, 24*7 Stores, Kalerya, Bharatpe. During lockdown due to COVID 19 pandemic, we accelerated the existing Rapido-Delivery services to provide for the delivery of essential goods and partnered with major online companies like Big Bazaar, Big Basket and Spencer’s for delivery of essential goods.

We supported the Delhi Government in delivering essentials items like milk and food packets, under the DCPC Node, in underprivileged areas across the city. Additionally, we also partnered with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (Karnataka Government) COVID-19 Home Delivery Helpline as a delivery service partner in a move to resolve supply-chain challenges amidst lockdown. During lockdown we launched Rapido Local, a person-to-person delivery service in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and expanded it to all close to 100 cities and post lockdown Rapido Store, a one-stop solution for all business deliveries.

What kind of growth in two-wheeler shared mobility / bike taxi does Rapido aim for in 2021?We expect the adoption of bike taxi travelling to increase in the Tier II and III cities, as a solution to unavailability of shared autos or last mile connectivity gaps and among blue collar workers travelling daily to work. We also feel people using bike taxis for short hauls, work, ordering groceries, etc. will continue to drive the demand for our service. Customers are aware that bike taxi is a more open and personalised way for intra city travel, as opposed to other crowded alternate ways like cabs, buses, autos and trains. The customer has an advantage of less exposure to any infection due to his/her limited interaction with the captain and less touchpoints. The demand we saw, even post the pandemic and lockdowns, is a clear testament to the needs of the market and how we are catering to it with our affordable and safe rides. Rapido has reached break-even in all cities where it has been present for over a year and are eyeing profitability in the coming 18 months. We are looking at 2021 with a larger vision of partnering with India in making intra-city transportation convenient, affordable, and accessible. We have been growing at more than 15 per cent month-on-month from the last 3 years and 3X to 4X year-on-year in the last few years. Our top three cities for Rapido Bike Services are Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Delhi.

 


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