How Three Housewives Started a Company, funded by a Woman Investor
The ridesharing platform Pooltoo recently raised funds
Start-ups are more often than not, born out of a problem we face in our immediate surroundings. Founders are the ones who decide to stand up and change the situation instead of cribbing about the same.
This was how three housewives who have been friends for 10 years, decided to start up on their own. Having been subjected to commuting problems and tired of traffic issues, Nancy Martin, Aradhana Jha and Sarita Mishra, started the ridesharing service Pooltoo. They had quit their jobs to take care of their families, but when the three friends got together once in every six months, there was a struggle to commute. When they would meet, traffic tales weren’t far from their discussions. And thus, came about the idea of Pooltoo.
Sharing a Ride
In November 2016, they got cracking on the idea of a ridesharing app. Martin says, “I spoke to my husband and we started talking about how we can go ahead with it. With help on the technology side, we worked on our idea and started carpool services.”
As is the rule for the implementation of any idea, they started off with a feasibility study of the product and assessed the market for the need of such products. While working on the same they realized that a car is a private space for any owner, so a profile of the rider would help them be more comfortable about welcoming co-riders.
So, they created a registration process which included a social login and an optional corporate email ID. “So, we started marketing through corporates and worked on the route alignments too, so that the user doesn’t have to take a de route for the ride. We built our own technology which ensured security and does away with time wastage,” said Jha.
Jha added that they are planning a platform which can manage all the needs of shared economy which is the future and come out with services accordingly. “In the long term, we are coming out with a Smart Asset solution for shared economy to use the unused capacity of private cars etc,” she said.
Challenges of Starting Up
Having had professional careers before, it was a great feeling for the founders to be back in business. But it wasn’t an easy comeback. Starting their own venture, they faced many challenges. The most important one being understanding the technical side of it. “It was difficult because we had to turn a story into a practical product. From defining the product to outlying how it should work, was a difficult task,” said Martin.
They hired 7 techies initially and within six months launched the product. But hiring the staff too was a challenge. “To implement the idea, we needed the right staff, so we had to ensure we are getting good people on board,” said Jha.
While researching, they realized that in Tier II and III cities, the two-wheeler usage was more than cars. “We implemented ridesharing for that too on our platform. So, we were learning on the go,” said Martin.
By Women, For Women
Being women entrepreneurs, they had a special eye out for women travelers. “We had faced those issues so we understood them,” said Jha.
On their platform, they have included the concept of preferential riding where one can choose to ride with a male or female driver/rider. “For women empowerment we are coming out with an EMI Free / EMI contribution -Car & Scooty scheme for working women. We believe in empowering woman will result in improving family and next generation,” said Martin.
While they had pooled in their savings to being operations, they have raised funds from a woman investor Devika Ganesh, a high-net-worth individual. “She too has taken interest in the product and also advises on our strategies considering she has immense knowledge about startups,” said Jha.