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Making Rideshare Affordable With Rapido

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Rishikesh S.R., Aravind Sanka, Pawan Guntupalli, 

Co-founders, Rapido
age: 30, 31, 31
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In October 2015, when Rishikesh S.R., Aravind Sanka and Pavan Guntupalli decided to launch a new venture in ridesharing, they knew they were up against Ola and Uber — two companies which had monopolised the market and were armed with a war chest enough to weather any challenge posed by a new entrant. But the three were convinced that masses in India could not always afford to book a cab, and still needed rideshare.
The affordability conundrum was cracked when the co-founders decided that the vehicle of the commonfolk, the motorcycle, was to be deployed for their ridesharing model. “The asset cost of a two-wheeler is a lot cheaper than a four-wheeler,” says Sanka. “Incumbents target the top 10 million people in metropolitan cities. We targeted the next 250 million living in smaller cities or in the hinterlands.”
Five-and-a-half years later, Rapido has raised $178 million in funding till date, and is valued at $224 million, according to Tracxn. As of March 31, 2020, it has raked in an annual revenue of `106.47 crore. “More than 55% of our business comes from non-metropolitan cities,” adds Sanka. The company operates across 100 cities, and has a fleet of 350,000 riders working on-ground per month —20% working on a daily basis, and the rest part-time.
Rapido operates like an Ola or an Uber. Users book their rides on the app by entering locations and get an estimated fare. “We charge a commission of 15% for our services, the rest are rider earnings,” says Rishikesh. Similar services offered include ride insurance and real-time tracking. Guntupalli claims in 2016 Rapido was the first ridesharing company to offer ride insurance to alleviate fears of people taking a bike-taxi.
The start-up also tied up with Bigbasket, Big Bazaar and Spencer’s Retail to deliver essential goods to customers during lockdown, without charging any commissions from ride partners. It also leveraged the presence of its fleet of riders on-ground to launch a person-to-person on-demand delivery service in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad to exchange food, groceries and medicines. In 2016, it introduced instant payment for riders. “The gig economy claims that workers are the owners of the work they do, so our service ensures that our riders are paid for their work whenever they want to,” says Guntupalli. It introduced a slew of measures for its riders during the pandemic, including a group insurance cover of `10 lakh in case of hospitalisation due to Covid-19.
The company is confident its business would double by the end of March 2022 from pre-pandemic levels. “Right now, we have scaled twice from our size before the pandemic,” says Sanka. “We are currently in 100 cities, and we will double this number in the near-term,” adds Rishikesh. The company, which has a fleet of 100 EVs in Delhi, is looking to electrify a“significant portion” of the fleet by 2030.
Recently, Rapido launched a rental service in six metropolitan cities — Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, and Jaipur — wherein users can rent rides from 1-6 hours. The company also plans to launch this service in smaller cities as well. It has roped in autorickshaws as a second form of transportation. “We have seen a lot of autorickshaw drivers who are looking for opportunities outside. It has become our second-largest business after bike-taxis,” explains Sanka.