This column is by Akshat Lavania, Co-Founder, Carpathy
Mere Mann Ki Baat
Thanks to the active news and social media, we all know about the recent downpour that brought the entire Delhi/NCR to a standstill, and left thousands of commuters stranded on roads. Newspapers were flooded withoutrage and criticism, and people lashed out at the Khattar government for its poor governance and oversight. Last Saturday,#Gurugram was trending on twitter, for all the wrong reasons. There were stories about why it all happened, how people suffered, and the carelessness of the government. An insane number of trolls made rounds; some of which went on to compare Gurgaon with Venice, called Khattar a Playboy, and suggested that changing its name was not enough and the government should try changing the pin code next time. For most of these people, who took to social media, it was anger they wished to express, for some it was sympathy for the fellow people of Gurgaon. In contrast, for people who actually faced it, for those who reached out seeking help, and for those who actually helped, it was a lot different.
A story that remains hidden in the post and tweets that were made to the social media a few hours after the jams started. A small story, a big step.
I was sitting in my office along with the team, scheduling pickups for next day. Our startup, Carpathy, provides car servicing to customer across Delhi NCR, and there is a free pickup and drop involved. It was 8:00 in the evening, and I was wondering if and when it would stop raining. I was almost wrapping things up when I got a call from one of our customers. His car broke in the middle of the road., and was submerged in water till the door windows. Since it had been raining since afternoon, it wasn’t hard to guess what would have happened. Gurgaon breaks down, every time it rains. He, obviously, had no idea of how deep the road is sunk in water, and thought he could just drive past through, only to realize moments later his assumption was far from a correct one. Many others followed suit. There was success for some, hell for others. All of them needed a helping hand, or two, may be more. We wanted to help but there was one problem, a small problem.
Carpathy deals only in car servicing, and although we provide free pickup and drop services to customers, we do not provide roadside assistance. We have never had any infrastructure for it. So even if we wanted to help, doing something this quick would require a lot of teamwork. While the customer was still on the phone, I looked around, and everyone quickly understood how we were going to spend the next few hours. They were excited, too, and we decided to give it a shot.
We promptly called a couple of crane services, and took quotations. These services charged a hefty amount, and it could only be optimized if there were multiple people opting for it. We knew there were many people who needed help; but how to reach out? A quick thought on what people stuck in jams do, gave us the answer to a rather complicated question The Facebook.
We quickly put out a post for those seeking help, and requested people to share it as much as possible. Five minutes in, and the magic began. We started receiving calls from Sohna Road, MG Road, IFFCO Chowk and Golf Course Extension road. People approached us with all sorts of problems from fuel shortages, electric failures to dead batteries. Within the hour, we received over 100 calls, and the post reached out to more than 20,000 people. People not only shared the post on facebook but also on WhatsApp.
Our office was on fire, full of energy. There were jingles all around. Calls were being made simultaneously to coordinate with customers, vendors, and in few cases, even to their relatives.
But the outcry was more than anyone could imagine. It seemed not to stop at all. By 11:00pm, our post reached more than 50,000 people, and we had a 6member team on ground, at two different locations, helping around with tools in their hands, spotting a dead car and fixing it, the Spideystyle.
It went on till 4:00 in the morning; our initiative reached more than 250,000 people in Gurgaon on Facebook itself. Over 400 calls were answered. More than 100 people helped. It truly went viral. Carpathy had(s) arrived.
For a small team with a big heart, with the support of our vendors, it was an incredibly successful campaign, with even better results. We only wish we were able to help more people across Delhi and Gurgaon, but there was also a humble feeling of satisfaction. We did our bit.
Though we got calls from all major publications and startup blogs, but the story never
got covered. We would have loved to provide service for this noble cause for free, but, after all, every bootstrapped startup has its limitations. So, we ended up charging a nominal fee to just cover the costs, and not making anything at all. It’s a startup after all. But we never allowed the size of our pockets to deter the depth of our hearts. There was also nothing pathbreaking in what we did. Every now and then, people offer help in the hours of crisis, and we were no different. But, we dared. We did. And, we succeeded.
Finally, after hours of downpour, it stopped raining. People reached their home. Things were back to normal. Social media was back to normal. On Sunday, #Gurugram was out of the trending list. #MannKiBaat made it in. People got occupied. After all, their cars are working fine now.
We are happy and satisfied because this is what we do. But for us, at Carpathy, the stark beginning of monsoon in Gurgaon will always remain fresh in our mind, in the days and years to come This article is my attempt to share #MereMannkibaat.
Have anything to add to this story? Share with us in the comments.
Carpathy is a network of standardized automobile service centers across Delhi NCR. We have a curated network of 50+ service centers to reduce the hassles of car servicing for customers. Read More