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RodinStar / Startup

And then there was light

Awarded the

“Rodinstar” Post 

of the week!!

If entrepreneurship was to be learnt ONLY in a class I would have learnt it by the end of my MBA course.

But then like everything this subject too has a lot of practicality involved, of which I was specifically informed by my professors back then.

I have this habit of meeting and talking with people , while travelling, while rummaging old places, while having a roadside delicacy, a lone conversation with a bus conductor, a rickshaw puller.

But never ever I thought that the biggest lessons would be told by an autorickshaw driver who completely , mind it completely sold himself in a matter of hardly 20 minutes.  

I won’t say that I din’t expect entrepreneurship from him, that would be wrong cause these people have shown me that the most relentless strength lies in these corners.

But what I was actually amazed was by the principles of management that this guy was following.

So, it was one usual night in Gurgaon when I stepped out from a late office night to catch a movie with some friends. We planned to watch a movie at Star mall, but before that planned to have our dinner at Chunnu ka Dhaba (Those in Gurgaon should definitely try this place).

And for this distance I come across an auto wallah who sees me, turns and comes back.

The same bargaining game starts, this time albeit small. He asks for Rs 150 while I pull it to Rs 100 and we both settle for Rs 120.

2 mins down the drive he cracks the ice by telling me that I am his two thousand three hundred twenty sixth (2326th) customer. He has already gotten me interested while he introduces himself as Rajesh.

(Lesson learnt : Have a killer opening line, applause will follow)

I cannot completely fathom the fact that an auto driver is actually calculating the number of unique visitors to his auto. So, I ask him how long he is doing this. He tells me the exact date and says that it has been eleven months since he bought this auto and that was when the count started.

Even when I am mulling over this, he tells me that he has got 634 repeat call customers.

(Lesson learnt : Start with the stats, the achievements , impress them first)

Before I can say anything he tells me that he has a reputation of best quality. He says that he gives his number to passengers and they call him if they need his services. And then the next moment he shows me his mobile with a message received 15 minutes back. It read something like this.

“ Dear Rajesh, Need to drop 2 American ladies from location A to location B. Would it be possible for you.”

(Lesson learnt :Back applause with facts and you have got the kill)

Sir, sabse pehle maine wo ata hai na tuk tuk uske bare me suna and socha ki jab wo kar sakte hai to mei kyu nahi.

Rajesh tells me that he got this idea from radio tuk tuk, an agency which operates on the same lines as Meru or any other radio cab business but instead of cabs uses autos.

(Lesson learnt : Your business need not be unique always, but if there is market potential you can still jump for opportunity)

Rajesh tells me that people need to give him a call 2 hours prior to the stipulated time and he would reach there. I ask Rajesh that isn’t it costly for him.

He says ki sahib Quality service ka paisa bhi quality hota hai. I charge 120 bucks if the travel has to be done from 11 at night to 6 in the morning. And the surety from my side is that I will always be available, 24 *7. Aur yahi reason hai ki log paise dete bhi hai.

(Note to self : If you can give quality there would always be quality connoisseurs who are happy to pay even  a premium if the right quality is available)

And then he says ki sahab (by now I have told him that my name is harsha and he should call me by my name) ,logo ka trust banana padta hai. Acha kam karo to paise dene walo ki kami nahi.

At the point of trust I ask him, ki Rajesh baki sab theek hai but what about ladies. Do they also call you.

He tells me that of these 634 repeat calls, 89 are from ladies. He tells them ki bhaiyya apni jan tak de dunga but ladies passenger ko kuch hone nae dunga. Then he goes on to tell me the divided demographics as well.

Dekho sir maximum to deloitte se hai, kyunki unka timing shayad thoda different rehta hoga, kuch TCS se hai. Par zyada to IT se hi log ate hai.

Now this is something, not only has got his CRM correct but he has also segregated his user base on the basis of demography and clusters. He also knows what time is the most suitable and with this data mining very soon he would know the exact time for the best price at various routes.

This should have been enough for me but then he told me why he was a Rodinhood in the real sense.

Harsha Sir (he gets my name right as well 🙂 apko batau mei apne neeche 23 auto walo ko kam deta hu. I think that he has got autos under him as a chain or as a bigger business. But he tells me that if he gets calls from locations he cannot reach, he checks with his most trusted colleagues ( fellow auto drivers) who at any cost won’t break the trust that he has developed and asks them to take care of his customers.

I ask him whether he gets something extra from these people, maybe a monthly Rs 100 or something. Again pat comes his reply. Sahab bantne se hi to kam badta hai. I give these people work in return they give me work as and when possible.

(Note to Self: Do, give, Do, get)

I finally with my small life experience offer him my 2 pence. I tell Rajesh ki visiting card chapwa lo log yad rakhenge aur zarurat padne p call karenge. ( Brand recall and touch point logics).

But he tells me ki sir bas EEGO (one famous taxi car) le lu fir sabse pehle card chapwaunga.

By now we reach at the dhaba just next to where my friends are sitting while I stand impressed by this man.

I offer him a Rs 150  but he says ki sir jo fix hua tha wahi lunga. I still insist on giving him Rs 150 for the valuable lessons he has taught me. I ask him for a photograph for which he readily agrees. I can hear the laughter of my friends saying ki Harsha pagal ho gaya hai, auto wale ki photo khich raha hai.

(Rajesh’s No :- 9958567895)

Finally I shake hands with Rajesh for the priceless lessons he has taught me.

I know this is not something new as many people would be doing this. But tell me one thing, who actually who keeps on looking at the bigger picture while not forgetting the smaller scene.

This guy was actually creating his BIG data and also mining it in the right way. Being a management consultant I have personally seen companies who don’t even know what to do with their sales numbers. Who don’t even take the pain of looking at trends, and analysing future potential. And mind it these are not small companies but some real big ones. And in these times I meet a man who has got his basics perfect till the CRM. A guy who knows ki uska maximum business value wise repeat customers se hi ata hai and that is the base he is strengthening.

I was amazed.

When I discussed this stuff with my office colleagues next morning they told me that they knew an auto guy who has enlisted him as a flower delivery guy,online. Technology + Hard work and then magic.

Respect,Rajesh, Respect.

And happy that I emerge one more experience strong.

~Harsha

My blog

********

Added on june 21, 2013

Rajesh & Harsha!

                                                                                   ********

                                           

Updated: Nov 10, 2013

Presenting the rubber stamp

On 9th Nov 2013, that is yesterday, at the Delhi Rodinhoods Open House at IIT Delhi Auditorium, a magical moment was created! Some of the Rodinhooders after reading this article decided to make Rajesh’s entrepreneurial skills reach out to more people through a creative idea – The AutoStamp!

They created an interesting stamp in the shape of an auto and placed it inside a yellow box welded behind his seat. Anyone who is interested in having Rajesh’s number to avail his services, can take the impression on a piece of paper, behind any old visiting card or old cards placed inside the yellow box itself.

The concept was to create something that would make Rajesh’s unique service of being at your service at your call within 2 hours at any hour of the day, to more and more people. Being cost-effective and interesting enough, the stamp helped Rajesh get some much needed attention and get his number in most office goer’s pocket just like any other visiting card they carry!

The idea was shaped by multiple rodinhooders that include Abey John who helped in the content part of the stamp and Anamika Joshi and Tarun Jangid whose creative agency, nailbites, designed and executed the idea.

Yesterday, we presented the stamp (ref pic) to Rajesh in front of an audience of more than 200 rodinhooders at the Open House along with a Rodinhoods Tee. You can also watch the video created around the idea to know more.

Video Link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=721729637869349&set=vb.672123272829986&type=2&theater

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72 Comments

  1. harsha…

    i will let the others respond to your rockstar post that made my day this morning! 

    i suspect you will be sending me your tee size soon!

    please keep writing and keep sharing such stories with us!

    p.s: it’s such a goosebumpy coincidence that y’day, i had a really nice experience with an auto guy as well. nothing story material but his “thank you” (in response to my thank you) and smile lingered on for a while….!

  2. Hey Asha,

    Thanks again for your kind words.

    The discussions At RODINHOODs actually make my day.

    These tees are not tees but medals 🙂

    And it seems the World is not such a bad place after all. Yes there are still nice people, nice autowallahs around.

  3. Asha, this is a rodinstar post!

    Oh man.  I am in shock.  Harsha, most auto-drivers never do this.  

  4. Thanks a ton Abey 🙂

    Calling it a Rodinstar post might be jumping the gun too soon as I have seen the awesome articles written by others. And yes Abey I too was really amazed by this fact as normally auto drivers rarely look at any data at all.What interests them is just to put caveats in the discussed fare.Like halfway they would say that the address is too far and traffic too high and hence would want another 30 bucks.

  5. Yup, that’snormal auto-driver behavior. 

    Well this has all the hallmarks of a rodinstar post.  Its a lesson every entrepreneur needs to learn.  If an auto-driver can do this then obviously how much more should we be doin it?  Sadly, most entrepreneurs don’t even do half.

  6. Harsha,

    This was one amazing article. Hats off to the street smart manager of Gurgaon!
     And hats off to you. A patient listener deserves as much accolades!

    Thanks for the wonderful piece.

    Tejas

  7. And that is perfectly the whole point which I was thinking. If the auto driver can do it then why cant we.It is not the money, a big idea but the desire which actually drives one.

  8. Thanks Tejas for actually considering me patient:)
    I think that I was just lucky to meet this one in thousand guys which rarely happens.

    Thanks again for finding this Good:)

  9. Nice one…Harsha. I had a tough time with auto people. last month was in Delhi, NCR  for a month and I  had always paid extra on autos as hardly anyone was following the meter policy they were just interested in those extra bucks even they also knew they had tough competition. when come out near any metro station, I have always seen atleast 10-12 auto drivers will run behind shouting auto auto !!! but no one will charge the fair price.    

  10. Amazing! Thats all I can say. India is blessed with Entrepreneurs…!

    Regards

    Aman Jha

  11. Thanks Manish.fair price is a misnomer here Manish and you have rightly pointed that out. If you even mistakenly sit in one then Rs 50 is the minimum you have to give to get down.And in Gurgaon there is no meter at all.Irony with police around

  12. Thanks Aman:)

    Every nook every corner. Maybe we too would be, in some very small forms.But then thats all this big story is about

  13. Just amazing… thank you so much for writing this.

  14. Amazing Harsha, You made my day. Thank you for posting.

  15. Thanks for sharing! Harsha

  16. Thanks Harsha.. for sharing this lesson…:)

  17. Thanks Sanghamitra:) It feels wonderful writing as well 🙂

  18. Venus,

    Thanks for saying this.Its too big a compliment 🙂

  19. Thanks Abhishek. Hope it makes sense 🙂

  20. Thanks Ankur:) Its my pleasure.

  21. What a beautiful, heartfelt and touching story, Harsha. Loved it! Just goes to show that doing business is more about the right intent, common sense value-offering, knowing your customer and building trust. Sometimes, despite a formal education that teaches us the meaning of these words, we forget the heart behind them. Salute to Rajesh!

  22. Harsha Bhai…. Loved it Completely …. So much to learn.Thanks.

    Entrepreneurship is a Way of Life!!

  23. Thanks a lot Neerja:) You actually got the crux absolutely in place with these 3 lines of yours.And yes thats what actually a business should be about.Education and heart are 2 different entities which should walk hand in hand.Sadly somewhere someplace people lose sight of these.And yes respect for Rajesh

  24. Gurpreet bhai.Had been actually waiting for your response since long.Always good to hear from you:)

    And yes your bathroom lessons are the new star nowadays:)

  25. SriHarsha Bhai….. As sopon as I saw it on your Fb page…. I read it…. Had to. So much of learning…. Abhi still I need to read it 2 more times and then share my views araam se. So much to learn from this single Post!! 

    Bathroom Lessons Would be posted as a Blog by next weekend Bhai….. Focus is slowly learning from them…… one lesson each day from my Bathroom Accessories/Fittings 🙂

  26. I think thats what makes this place what it is.You learn more by actually being there in the sun, having discussions.And I am really looking forward for that article of yours.No one ever thought that so small miniscule things which were always omnipresent could teach us such big learnings.

  27. You are Right Bhai….. Never found a Better Group of Like Minded people…. than in TheRodinhoods!

    One just needs to Bounce an idea/View and we get so many Feedback…. Which expands our horizons exponentially.

    I Owe a Lot to TheRodinhoods 🙂 

  28. I believe everything except the last line was right.

    WE owe a lot to the Rodinhoods:)

  29. Yeah WE  🙂

  30. Harsha,

    Thanks a lot for sharing your incredible experience.. Entrepreneurship is such a misused word these days  that we miss valuing these real entrepreneurs who are creating these valuable lessons for us. 

    We as a country are certainly blessed with lots of entrepreneurs, we just need to look around..

    It would be great if you can Call Rajesh to the coming Rodinhood meetup on Wednesday.. We may share a few more learnings . 🙂

    And I agree to both you and Gurpreet Bhai, we do owe a lot to this community.. 

  31. Oh Amit,

    It is so good to hear from you.We could never meet after that last meeting of ours which was so insightful.I dont know if I would be available for the meet or not.But I will try asking Rajesh:)

  32. Hi Rajesh,

    I was totally awed by the post and what also caught my attention besides Rajesh’s ingenuity was your remark:

    Being a management consultant I have personally seen companies who don’t even know what to do with their sales numbers. Who don’t even take the pain of looking at trends, and analysing future potential.”

    Trust me I have been there and seen people talk and present and give gyan about CRM and loyalty without really understanding what it all boils down to.

    Interesting insights and you are a great storyteller. Looking forward to reading such useful posts.

    Shahin

  33. Great Post Harsha.

    I think you could send him to Mumbai and train the Autowallas here. Seriously! Anyone from Mumbai can attest to the absolutely indifferent and careless attitude of these guys.

    Perhaps all the Rodinhooders should send him a combined sms for his good work, that would make his day.

    Thanks for the post.

  34. Awesome Learning from a single post !!!

  35. Hi Shahin, Sorry for replying late as I was away travelling. Firstly it feels so wonderful when someone calls you a great story teller:) And of all the CRM gyan even if 10% of it had b,

  36. Thanks a lot Ratnakar for reading the post.

    Oh but this takes me by surprise as I always thought that Mumbai autowallahs are a lot better than delhi ones and that too by a margin. But then even I never stayed there.

    Yes sending Rajesh SMSes would really be a great thing.

    Thanks for your time:)

  37. Thanks Hiranand:)

    And it makes me happier further, knowing that my post can actually elicit any level of learning:)

  38. Last week I missed many wonderful RH-Special Posts… This one is amazingggggg.. 

    Harsha can you provide his phone number?? I would be happy to get his visiting cards designed and printed for him – as a gift to him for teaching us such wonderful lessons….Seriously!

  39. WOW ANAMIKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YOU HAVE A HEART OF GOLD AND WEAR RODINHOOD ALL THE TIME!

    very very nice of you! 

  40. Asha… It’s rare that people get opportunity to do something that comes straight from their heart.. This is one such opportunity .. so why not grab it!! But yes, it all comes from being a Rodinhood!!

  41. Thanks a lot Anamika for actually thinking of such a noble thing.

    Here is Rajesh’s No :- 9958567895. He would be more than happy I think 🙂 

    Let me know if you need any help from my side. And thanks for finding this post amazing:)

  42. Thanks Harsha for the details…. You have actually helped us all by penning down such beautiful insights out of a casual conversation you had with Rajesh. It’s all worth it!

  43. It was my pleasure Anamika:) And just an update.I just had a word with rajesh and I have told him about you. So that he would be comfortable when u call him.

  44. Hey.. so nice of you Harsha.. I was infact trying to figure out how would I introduce myself to him, what would I say and whether or not he will really understand from where I landed up.. You have just made my job easy.. Thanks a tonne!

  45. Ooh nice.  Can I chip in with the copy for the card? 🙂 

  46. 🙂 🙂 Hahaha.. you just took away the right from a copywriter… 🙂 But you are more than welcome. So when can I expect it?? :)))

  47. Hmmm lets go off thread with this.  Mail me abey(at)clickmantra.in.  Will brainstorm there.

  48. sure.

  49. Knowing Abey by the way you write I think I too would be more than interested to see what you create:)

  50. Would be fun if I too could contribute to this in some way:)

  51. Mail me.  We’ll just need to be careful to avoid the too many cooks syndrome. 🙂

  52. :)) – let’s keep it tasty enough. 

  53. okay… so finally i’ve been able to add something i wanted to for a long time. check the top of your post harsha! well deserved!

  54. Woohooh! :)))

  55. Thanks a lot Asha:) Feels ecstatic.One always sees Rodinstar posts but one of our own posts considered so makes us go to the next level.I must say that I was fortunate enough to meet Rajesh:) and in this process many more Rajeshs.

    Thanks again.

     

  56. Thanks Abey.You were the first one who had actually said that this post deserved to be a rodinstar one.Thanks for the trust and yes am on my way mailing you:)

  57. Fantastic post! Nice observation.. This is testimony that we all can learn so many things from everyday life.

  58. First of all Harsha,Thanks a lot for sharing this article

    From my personal experience in the food industry where per day I have to deal with atleast 25-30 vendors.I have always noticed that there will always be 2-3 vendors who are always looking at the bigger picture,they try to build customer loyalty and trust me there data mining skills and CRM skills will even fail some of the big MNC’s.

    The problem actually arises with us,we think most of these people are uneducated and are of no good use.We do case studies of US MNC’s and try to apply them in the indian context.If you want to know the real Rodinhoods of India try to do business with these folks.You will be amazed.

  59. Thanks Aneja:) 

    Yes, actually there is so much that happens around us. It is just how much we want to learn

  60. Agreed Uddipta. In fact the real game happens at these levels only as they are the ones who are seeing the root level problems. And at such a cut throat margin based competition they cannot afford to go wrong.

    I have heard that there is a lot of competition in food business but hearing it from the horse’s mouth makes it even more interesting. Thanks for sharing buddy. I dont think that we write off these people because they are uneducated. Rather we stay so engrossed in ourselves that we dont look beyond the obvious.

  61. Its amazing.. 🙂 ever person one meets has the potential to ignite us from within. Next time, i will surely say hi to autowallas 😉

  62. # respect . thanks for sharing. 

  63. good stuff . 

    come on India 🙂 

  64. Hey Harsha,

    I’m reading this pretty late but hell. yes, this is an awesome story. Our land is full of such lessons of entrepreneurship. Killer boss. Hats off to Rajesh – the Rodinhood

  65. Just called him. What a swell guy

  66. Great post Harsha sir. Thanks for writing.

  67. harsha

    i am going to share this page with my friends

    vary well written

    rajesh is indeed the rodinhood

  68. Thanks Sumeet for your time:)

  69. It is my pleasure Jawwad 🙂

  70. “Lakshya”. Do any job or business—but with full interest & concentration—success & growth is yours.

  71. I just asked a journalist friend to take up this story for her next article.
    lets see if it materializes 

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