With the revolution instigated by Uber in the on-demand car services sector, the world has witnessed a sudden surge of companies trying to capture this space with individual approaches. The growth in this avenue is majorly fueled by the convenience these services offer coupled with the increasing disposable income with the middle class- holding an aspiration to lead a sophisticated life. Nevertheless, while these on-demand car services offer the luxury of being driven around at an economical cost, they fall short on the comfort and the sense of ownership that are essentially associated with one’s personal vehicle. Recognizing this gap, DriveU caters to the need of those who have their personal car and only want to hire a driver occasionally.
The company was launched by Ramprasad (Rahm) Shastry, Ashok Shastry and Amulmeet Singh Chadha in June 2015. The startup is owned and operated by Humble Mobile Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
With DriveU which is currently available for Android and iOS users, owners of private car vehicles can ask for a trained and verified driver. Once users have set their location and time, the app assigns a driver to them and they can track the assigned driver in real-time. When the driver reaches the assigned location, user hands over the car keys and the driver drives him to their destination. During the ride, user can keep a track of the fare. Fares start at Rs 99 per hour. After reaching the destination, stop the ride and pay via the app (cashless) or in cash. They can also share ratings with the driver, and can as well share their feedback on the service.
Rahm Shastry, CEO of DriveU, was one of the early investors in TaxiForSure which was acquired by Ola for $200 million earlier this year. His son Ashok Shastry (COO, DriveU) was working in the marketing team at TaxiForSure and after TFS’s acquisition, he thought about building a startup and hence DriveU was born.
DriveU’s third co-founder Amulmeet Singh Chadha (CPO, DriveU), worked with firms like Zipdial, RedBus, and most recently FreeCharge. He joined the Co-Founding team after a meeting over coffee with Ashok and then he decided to head the company as Chief Executive.
What problems is it solving?
DriveU is trying to focus on enhancing experience for customers using their personal vehicles, by implementing better practices in technology, driver verification, training methods and on-road commute experience – be it for shopping, running errands, airport drops and pickups, business meetings, day to day commuting, and for attending social events, dining at a restaurant/bar, concerts, weddings, parties and more.
Talking about the features of their venture, Rahm Shastry said, “Uniformed drivers equipped with seat covers, floor mats and more arrive at your doorstep to drive you around the city and to let you focus on your life, than struggle with traffic jams and parking woes. You can now travel in the comfort of your own car and not experience the anxiety of not being able to hail public transport during bad weather conditions or rush hour; nor worry about being charged peak hour pricing either.”
The startup had raised an undisclosed amount in its seed round and used it for developing the Android and iOS applications.
Present status and future plans
The startup has over 30 employees and currently operational in 2 cities (Bengaluru, Chennai) and plans to expand further soon. It has around 100 drivers in Bengaluru at present, increasing the number every week. The company claims that it has more than 1000 satisfied customers in Bengaluru and doubling every 6 weeks. Over 60% of its bookings are repeat customers and women make up a majority of its Top-50 customers.
In future, it will add more features to the app and also plans to enter more cities in India by next year. The company will be looking to add another 40-50 people in multiple cities within the next few months.
DriveU business model is a simple, transparent, pay-as-you-go, any-time charge of Rs.99 per hour – anytime, anywhere. Consumers pay only for the amount of time they utilize for the service, after the first hour. There is a one-way surcharge of Rs 50/- during day time and Rs 250/- during night time after 10pm. Consumers can hail a driver on DriveUMobile App and pay via their cash, credit/debit card or net banking.
“Being the first company in India to launch a mobile application to avail on demand drivers, we don’t face any major competition,” added Rahm.
Car ownership in India is 18 per 1000 people – or approximately 25 million cars. As a compare, car ownership in the US is over 800 per 1000. Car ownership in India is expected to quadruple to 100 million over the next decade. So, the market opportunity for startups in this space is very large.