Rapido Bike Taxi drives into smaller cities to rev up operations

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on June 14, 2018

Rapido bike taxi in Vijayawada.   -  THE HINDU

Bengaluru-based start-up Rapido Bike Taxi has expanded operations to 12 cities, including Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Mysuru, Visakhapatnam, Patna, Indore, Vijayawada, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and Madurai.

“The last-mile connect has always been an issue for the common man. We decided to address this,” said its co-founder, Pavan Guntupulli.

Bike booking app

The bookings are done through an app, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. It is available on both Android and iOS phones, he said.

Guntupulli said the services would be extended to a few cities in central India, such as Gwalior, Nashik, Nagpur, and Surat by July-end.

The company is eyeing smaller cities and towns to introduce its services, where last-mile connectivity is an issue. “Metros have better access to transport,” he said.

While facilitating the service, this start-up is also trying to complement the income of two-wheeler owners by enrolling them as ‘captains’.

The bike-taxi operator has over 60,000 captains in these 12 cities. “Enrolment is a continuous process as there is always a demand for a bike ride. Over two lakh aspirants (two-wheeler owners) sought to enrol as captains, but we have stringent norms. We have both part-time and full-time captains, from students to retired individuals,” he said.

Women captains

Coimbatore is among the first cities to have women captains. Out of the 80-odd bike taxis that are operational in the city, three are run by women.

Bike enthusiast Sindhuja B, an employee in a private company and a part-time captain, told BusinessLine that a signboard at a signal that read “Opportunity for bike riders — contact ....” caught her attention.

“I called them and there was no going back. I had a part-time job on hand,” a beaming Sindhuja said.

The 22-year-old said she had started riding bikes during her high school days, and her passion for bikes eventually drove her to become a member of a Bike Club in the city. “I joined a private company after graduation. I am now able to put my bikes — a Royal Enfield, a Pulsar and a Scooty — to good use,” she said.

For Nirmal Kumar Vadivalagan, a pensioner, opportunity seems to have come his way when many in his age-group consider themselves too old to ‘captain’ a two-wheeler. “I owned a scooter, but never dreamt that this would fetch me some money on the side, as the interest from bank deposits is not at all enough to continue with the same standard of living that I enjoyed when I was a government employee,” he said.

The pillion rider is offered a shower cap and helmet before the ride to ensure hygiene and safety,” said S Indir Raj, Deputy Manager (Coimbatore Operations).

Insurance for riders

“We have customised insurance for the pillion rider up to ₹5 lakh. This is not only to cover serious accidents but minor mishaps as well. We have done around 2.5 million rides so far, and the mishap rate is near-zero,” said Guntupulli.

The company, according to its co-founder, does close to 15,000 rides every day and the number is steadily growing at 30 per cent month-on-month.

“We have raised $2 million. We will be looking to raise more (without quantifying) to take care of expansion and development of our technology platform,” he said.

Senthamarai Kannan, Deputy Manager (Tiruchi Operations), said Rapido is looking to expand rapidly into smaller towns. “The opportunity is huge, but there is a shortage of captains,” he said.

Published on June 14, 2018

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