How Samar Singla pulled off a jugaad with autorickshaw aggregator startup Jugnoo

how-samar-singla-pulled-off

The one thing that unites all Indians is being on the receiving end of repeated rejections by autorickshaw drivers. That, or the hassle of persuading them to use legally prescribed charging meters. Built on the basic problem this had been creating for the average commuter, Samar Singla pulled the brakes on Jugnoo two years ago, an autorickshaw aggregator app.

“In addition to problems faced by commuters, we also observed that a lot of autorickshaw drivers sit idle for a large chunk of the day and charge exorbitant rates from customers when they do offer to take trips,” says CEO and founder of Jugoo, Singla. “After speaking to some of them, we understood that the main issue is that they do not have enough work to begin with,” he says.

And as with any new business, the ride has not been smooth all the way. “It is not easy to work with drivers since they generally do not think long-term,” says Singla. “But once you are able to show impact on their earnings, they become more open to such ventures,” he adds.

Riding a new wave
Jugoo offers reliable, yet affordable auto rides with the mere click of a button. “With this app, we also hope to solve both driver issues as well as commuter problems by giving auto drivers enough rides at fairly calculated rates,” adds Singla. The company has a robust presence in about 40 cities in India today, 30 of which are in mature markets. “We are always expanding. In fact, we launch into one new city almost every two weeks. Our target is to reach 100 cities in the next 12 months,” he adds.

Driving real change
With its main focus on tier 2 cities, Jugnoo has started experimenting in tier 4 towns as well and the response has been encouraging. “The smaller a city gets, the bigger the value of this platform becomes,” says Singla. “In smaller cities, you do not have to walk a great distance to hitch a ride so the use case is tight, but the fragmented market still makes it a challenging business,” he adds.

But the company is bullish about its expansion plans and wants to eventually move to a point where services are completely product-driven. “We want our services to be so seamless that we won’t need people to run operations out of these small cities,” says Singla. “We also want more women drivers to come on board, but that will require more of a cultural and social change which will take some time to come about in India,” he adds.

Behind the wheel
“We all have experienced failures at some stage in our careers, but the learning you get from these cannot be emphasized enough. Today, if we want to venture into something new, we will not be bogged down with the pressure – if it works, it works. If does not, we move on,” he says. “A lot of people did think that Jugnoo will fail because of the reputation of drivers in India, but we tried nevertheless and it worked out for us,” he says.

Singla feels that chasing VCs is the wrong approach for any entrepreneur, “India has a lot of problems but you cannot solve them well if you are simply running after problems which VCs will fund,” he says. “By focusing on what VCs like and how you can get investments, the attention is taken away from solving the real problem. Entrepreneurship is like a continuous marathon. The only way to win is to just keep running,” he signs off.

This article was originally published on EconomicTimes

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