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[Showcase] Technology Innovation for India

This post is about the technology innovation that allowed Baxi Taxi to stay ahead of the curve in its first year of operations.
Baxi (Bike + Taxi) is India’s first on demand bike taxi company, operating with commercial bikes.

At Gurugram or Faridabad, you may see bikers waiting outside the metro (rail) stations in their yellow uniforms. They can take you to your destination (home, office, college, mall, etc) on their commercial bike (bearing a yellow number plate). The fare is calculated based on the distance traveled and the time taken for the trip.

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Customers can hail these bikes from bike taxi stands across the city, or book using the mobile app that is available in both Android and iOS flavours. ET did a detailed story on how bike taxis operate.

{The Transport Department regulates these services in each state. They are allowed to operate legally in Goa, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal. Companies are running under the radar in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and other cities of South India.}

The challenges faced

  1. Low penetration of internet in India – last year, there were close to 600 mn smartphones in India, of which close to 300 mn had an internet connection. {The remaining smartphone users used peer to peer file sharing apps like SHAREit and Xender, or WiFi networks}. Of the internet users, only a third were active users, with a high concentration of them in the cities. Most of the country still has pockets with poor / no internet connectivity, hence an app first / only business would be extremely difficult to scale.
  2. Being a low ticket ride (average trip is INR 33/-), there was the perennial problem of change. Customers and/or the riders did not always carry exact change with them.
  3. It was important to provide a reliable service that was safe for the customers, in order to get repeat business.

How we solved them

1.a. We designed the Customer app to work without an internet connection. When it detects that the connection is weak, the app will send the GPS co-ordinates of the customer via SMS to the Baxi server, which then allocates the trip to the nearest available bike taxi. This is one of the first such mobile apps in the World to provide this innovation.offline-booking-innovation

1.b. We designed the Buddy (what we call our riders) app to accept a Token, that the customer can generate through a missed call. The trip starts as soon as the buddy enters the Token in their app. At the end of the trip, the customer gets an SMS with the Token for their next ride, so that they do not have to give a missed call the next time that they want to take a Baxi ride. This allows them to hail a Baxi from the road side, without using an internet connection (or even a smartphone).

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2. Baxi creates a closed wallet for each customer that registers through the app or a missed call. They can top up the wallet at the end of each trip, and the balance can be used for future trips. This allows the customer to avoid problem with loose change, and ensures customer stickiness for Baxi. Again, one does not need a smartphone to create a Baxi wallet. Just a mobile number will do.baxi-ride-end-sms

3.a. Baxi has built an agile and scalable platform to track each ride in real time. Parameters include speed of the vehicle, pick up point, current location of the bike, etc. This allows for business analytics to maintain quality of service, predict demand and manage supply. The Supervisor App for the field operations team allows them to monitor each buddy even when they are on the go. The integrated CRM uses Knowlarity and Freshdesk. Customers can reach out to Baxi through email, chat, missed calls or social media.

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3.b. The Customer app has the feature of tagging a Buddy as ‘Favorite’, at the time of rating the trip. The competition disallows drivers from carrying the same set of passengers on a regular basis, but we actually encourage it. Buddies on their Favorite list are given the first preference when a customer requests a ride. This ensures a basic level of comfort between the Buddy and the Customer. This also helps Baxi in identifying Buddies with low ratings, for counselling/retraining. favourite

These tech innovations may seem simple. However, hardly anyone in the industry thought about them before Baxi came into the picture. The results are there for everyone to see – close to 150,000 registered customers and more than 800,000 trip bookings with around 550+ bikes registered on the platform, within the first year of operations.

Watch this space for more innovation coming up.

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