In a country like India where road traffic has become one of the biggest challenges for a majority of people, carpooling offers a lucrative option to drastically cut the fuel costs for individuals, reduce commute times by lowering traffic on the roads and help reduce pollution levels. Offering a solution for that, several startups namely, GetJugaad, CommuteEasy, Ridingo etc. have recently entered the market.
“Carpooling as a solution needs several entities to collaborate in order to succeed – and all these entities benefit when this solution works.” claims Raghu Ramanujam, founder of another carpooling startup PoolCircle - which is soon entering the market.
PoolCircle has been designed as a collaborative platform where enterprises, tech parks and of course the end users participate to enable carpooling to happen at a large scale. Moreover, the team is launching the service as a mobile first product to deliver the best user experience at the point of use.
Safety is a big concern in making carpooling work and PoolCircle claims to address this concern by allowing people to build their ‘circle of trust’ and ride with people they feel safe with. The startup works with a vision to make commuting safe, economical and sustainable and in order to do that PoolCircle allows users to further configure and set their preferences mentioning who they want to ride with – by selecting options like ridesharing with ‘Linkedin contacts only’ or with ‘people from same workplace’ etc.
For enterprises and tech parks, PoolCircle offers a benefit of reducing the cost of employee car parking. Apart from saving the money, another incentive for an enterprise is that they could count this as a Corporate Social Responsibility effort done by them as this helps in reducing the company’s carbon footprint. “We are as much driven by a Social Responsibility as by Entrepreneurial Zeal to address this problem”. added Raghu.
Currently bootstrapped along with investments from friends and family, the startup is open to discussion with investors to further infuse some money and help them accelerate their growth.
The startup is soon launching its product in Bangalore which would then be followed by a subsequent launch in other big cities in India including Chennai, Hyderabad etc. To monetize, it is currently working on multiple options which are yet to be finalised before its launch, including a usage fee from the end users and the enterprises.
Addressing the market opportunity, Raghu said that roughly 65% to 70% of the cars ride with just one person, the person who drives, on a workday commute. If we look at Bangalore – which has one the biggest road traffic problem throughout India – the city alone has about 1 million cars and it is believed that by enabling 4 passengers to ride in each car, instead of just 1, a huge impact can be made.
India is a very price sensitive market and the cost of fuel here is among the highest in the world. Moreover, the infrastructure in our cities is just unable to keep up with the pace of vehicle growth. In addition to these issues, increasing traffic and rising pollution levels are major concerns in every big city – for which carpooling is the only way to go.
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