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This 30-Year-Old Introduced The Original Bike Taxi Segment In India Founded by Aravind Sanka along with his co-founders Pavan Guntunpalli and Rishikesh SR, Rapido now enjoys a customer base of 10 million users with a presence in 100 cities

By Debarghya Sil

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Aravind Sanka

How many times has it happened that you look at cab fares or auto fares on your smartphone and wished that only if the fares were half, you could have saved some from your hard-earned salary. Most of us have faced it but we end up paying the high fare and sleep over it. However, Aravind Sanka and his other co-founders Pavan Guntunpalli and Rishikesh SR didn't sleep on it and instead looked for ways to provide pocket-friendly mobility.

Inspired from their own experience of shelling extra cash for cabs within a limited salary, Sanka and his team came up with Rapido, a bike taxi service provider in 2015. The company introduced the bike taxi segment in the country at a time when Ola and Uber were enjoying the majority of market share in the local commuting segment.

"Our disruptive service model has paved a whole new way to travel, with ease and speed, which aims towards building an affordable commuting ecosystem in order to solve Indian mobility issues," Sanka added

Sanka who is now 30 has not only taught Indians how to ride but also has provided an alternate source of income for the underpaid or unemployed population of the country.

Stressing on the same, he said, "Imagine a carpenter or an electrician or maybe anyone who is making minimum wages, has a two-wheeler, this person with a valid driver's license can join Rapido without investing a single penny and start earning some extra money to be more financially stable and in some cases, financially independent. That is the major innovation that we have done in terms of providing employment to underemployed and unemployed people."

Highs & Lows

The company which currently boasts of having a presence in 100 cities in India and enjoys a customer base of 10 million customers and has employed 15,00,000 captains (bike rider) has faced both highs and lows in their six-year journey.

While speaking about highs, Sanka said that with rapid urbanization people travelling from tier II, III have limited public transport solutions which becomes a problem in improving the standard of life with better job opportunities. He said that the public transport systems are sometimes not available late in the evenings and getting shared autos is a hassle, especially if you are a woman.

These reasons have really acted in support of Rapido, which became an instant hit among early job seekers and college students.

Apart from this another moment of high that Sanka enjoys sharing with us that a lot of women have joined the Rapido team to support their families. "With every ride, the women captain becomes more confident and are self-reliant to run their lives and take care of their needs," he added.

However, Sanka said that their main challenge in building a successful bike taxi sector would be the regulatory hurdles and lack of awareness of the benefits, a flourishing bike taxi model can contribute to the overall economy. Rapido has till date raised total funding of $80 million from various investors including Hero MotoCorp chairman Pawan Munjal, Rajan Anandan, Westbridge AIF, Nexus Venture Partners, among others.

2020 In A Nutshell

The year 2020, unlike any other year due to the ongoing pandemic has wreaked havoc in the businesses across the sector. At a time when people were not advised to step outside followed by months long stringent lockdowns, mobility service providers had to bang their heads on walls to find a lifeline. However, Sanka and his team saw an opportunity in this crisis and extended its delivery services to essential services, which were the need of the hour and were only allowed by the government of India during lockdown. This way Rapido tied over such an unprecedented crisis and at the same time helped its captains (Rapido bike riders) to earn their livings. The company also launched Rapido Local, a person-to-person delivery service; Rapido Auto, and crowd fundraising campaign, #PeopleForCaptains. Needless to say, the company also doubled down to ensure public safety against the virus

Future Plans

While Sanka declared that the company has attained break-even in all cities where it has been present for over a year and are now eyeing profitability in the coming 18 months. "We are looking at 2021 with a larger vision of partnering with India in making intra-city transportation convenient, affordable, and accessible," he concluded.

Currently, Rapido has been growing at more than 15 per cent month-on-month from the last three years and 3X to 4X year-on-year in the last few years. Rapido's services are used most in Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Delhi.

Aravind Sanka made it to the list of Entrepreneur India's 35Under35 list of 2021.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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