When I ditched MyCar...

Few entrepreneurs are experiencing relatively more convenience with Ola and Uber and are taking charge of their spending.

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By Sandeep Soni

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Until you are a driving fanatic who loves being behind the wheel even if it is about making way through the maddening city traffic, chances are that you might prefer taking a backseat. Or maybe not when you can ditch your car altogether for an Ola or an Uber cab, which is much more than just about escaping traffic woes.

Entrepreneurs, particularly startups for whom everything comes hard, driving their way to work or being driven in their own car is obviously of great convenience. But that convenience comes bundled with necessary evils like fuel costs, periodic servicing costs, insurance renewals, dents and scratches, and accidents.

So, you end up feeding that convenience by continuously overspending money on your car unlike few such entrepreneurs who have been experiencing relatively more convenience with Ola and Uber and taking charge of their spending. "Using Uber and Ola is of real convenience."

I am free from all worries whether it is traffic chaos, fuel cost or vehicle maintenance. I was supposed to buy a new Honda City or Honda Jazz car this year but I probably won't because using these cabs seems more economical rather than putting money and paying interest for a new car," says Satish Kataria, Managing Director, Catapooolt.

Mumbai-based Kataria, who founded crowdfunding platform in 2013, uses cab services around three-four days a week whether for meetings beyond 5-10 km distance from his office or for a family dinner. Excluding every other costs, Rs 10,000-15,000 for a driver's salary and fuel expense in the same range will add up to around Rs 30,000
per month. Kataria clearly sees the cost effectiveness in using cab services. "I have been using them for around a year now. It costs me Rs 10-15k a month, which is around 40-50 percent cheaper than spending on a personal vehicle," further says Kataria.

From three-four days in a week to completely switching to these cabs, entrepreneurs have been wisely on- oarding these cabs to make the best of their commuting time. While Sampad Swain, Co-founder and CEO, Instamojo, a Bengaluru-based payments solution company, has been using Uber, "…for everything – office meetings, family outings, dropping kids to school, etc;" Abhijit Bose, CEO and Cofounder, Ezetap, a mobile point-of-sale start-up, does use his 10-yearold Honda City once in a while, which he won't sell and would neither
buy a new car.

"I used to drive, and it was always stressful reaching office in an hour's time that earlier never took more than 30 minutes. So I switched to using these cabs around two-and-a-half years back. In the first year and a half, I used Ola and Uber for probably going out on weekend or to an airport. Then I started going two days by Uber and rest on my own in a week which increased to four days by Uber and rest by my own car. Now, it is almost 100 percent that I have switched to Uber in the last six months," says Bose.

The monthly running cost for Bose's car has been of fuel charges (around Rs 10,000), which is relatively cheaper than what he spends using Uber or Ola every month, "but that's worth it," he says. "My average monthly billing using these cabs is more than Rs 15,000, which is more expensive than driving my own car but that doesn't bother me.

Because of the mental stress, I used to go through using my own car wasn't worth it," explains Bose. While the response time for these cabs to arrive once they receive request from customers is less than five minutes but often it happens that cabs just don't show up for various reasons like being stuck in traffic or driver simply ignoring the request.

Hence, having your car during emergencies instead of bidding it goodbye does make sense. "I have bad experiences with these cabs like when I was travelling to Delhi earlier, I booked an Ola but the cab didn't come. So I would still be using my car in future but certainly I might use these cabs more often," says Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO, Simplilearn.

Kumar, running his edtech company that offers professional certification training, switched from using local taxis to these cabs in 2013 for meetings at Bengaluru's prime commercial hub central business district, for shopping in the city.

There is already a strong undercurrent in urban areas which is swiftly surfacing: to switch to accessing a car easily instead of owning it as a means to commute much to the dislike of Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, who in September this year cautioned the rise of these cabs as a potential threat to the auto sales. But factually speaking how many of us would give thumbs up to owning a depreciating asset when you can virtually own one without any mental baggage?

Sandeep Soni

Former Features Editor

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