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'An Unfortunate Accident Gave Birth To JustRide’

While the odd-even formula will cause inconvenience to daily commuters, it is a great opportunity for self-drive car rental operators as they are exempted from the odd-even formula

Photo Credit : JustRide founders

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JustRide, an innovative Self-Drive car rental company based in Mumbai, was co-founded by five IITians and backed by angel funding. It has expanded to Bangalore, Pune, Noida and Gurgaon and has a fleet of 300 cars.

Google has selected JustRide as one of the companies for their Launchpad, Startup Accelerator Programme.

Aishwarya Singh, CEO of JustRide shared his experiences about their start-up and future perspective with BW|Businessworld

Edited Excerpts:
How did the idea of starting JustRide occur to you?
The idea for JustRide came to us when our newly purchased Ford Figo was totalled in an unfortunate accident. As friends, we had pooled in money to purchase the car and it was heartbreaking when we learnt about the accident. We then realised that had there been a convenient rental service, it would have saved us a lot of time and investment.

You have been selected by Google for their Launchpad programme. How will it help you and your cause as they are also putting money into your start-up?
It’s not really about the money. It feels great when a technology giant like Google decides to mentor your start-up.

There are other players as well in the market. What is the USP of JustRide?
The concept of self-drive car rental is not new. However, little has been done to scale up the business. We see ourselves as technology aggregators in the business of car rentals and not just Rent-A-Car Company.

Unlike traditional self-drive car rental companies, we don’t purchase our cars outright from the market. JustRide is a web and mobile based platform where firms or individuals can onboard cars with a commercial self-drive license.

We assist existing car rental firms in scaling their business through web and mobile based applications. JustRide is a platform which facilitates transactions between the vendor and the end customer.

What is the model JustRide has adopted?
We are technology aggregators in the self-drive car rental space. The operational inventory on our platform is procured from existing car rental operators with a self-drive license. Once a vendor decides to onboard his vehicle on our platform, the cars are furbished with the company’s in-house Smart Vehicle Technology (SVT).

SVT makes use of a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) and Global Positioning System to relay performance parameters such as tyre pressure, fuel consumption and vehicle location to a central server.

This allows for efficient fleet management as it greatly reduces reliance on manual labour. JustRide’s business model completes the existing ecosystem as it helps conventional car rental operators to step into the self-drive car rental segment where vehicle security and maintenance are one of the prime constraints.

How much fund have you raised through Series A fundings and how will you be going to utilize that money?
We are currently looking to raise a Series A round. As of now we have raised a seed and bridge round which totals up to $3 million.

The company is currently focused on upgrading its technology platform. We are working on integrating SVT with our pricing mechanism to develop a dynamic pricing index. The idea is to incentivise customers on the basis of their driving skills. So if you’re a good driver, our company will throw you a discounted price.

Does your IIT background helped by any means for this start-up?

Well it would have been really great if I did go to one of the IITs. They have a pool of bright young minds with innovative ideas. I have completed my graduation from NIT Allahabad. The market and investors have become receptive towards start-up companies by non IIT graduates in the recent days.

What are your future plans (acquisitions, expansion if any)?

To be honest, we’re not looking at any acquisitions in the near future. With an aggregator model, expansion becomes easier as we don’t need significant investments to scale our services.

We are looking to expand to at least 12 cities with a fleet of 9,000 cars by the end of December 2016.

What is your take on Delhi's government "odd-even" formula?
Air pollution in Indian metros needs to be taken seriously. While the odd-even formula will cause inconvenience to daily commuters, it is a great opportunity for self-drive car rental operators as they are exempted from the odd-even formula.


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