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‘Will Never Do Massive Discounting Or Surge Pricing’

A management graduate from US, Srikanth Lingidi, founder and CEO of ApnaCabs, spoke to BW Businessworld after successful aggregation of ‘Kaali-Peeli’ taxis of Mumbai and his focus on business strategies with integration of technology

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Terming Delhi government’s Odd-Even a courageous step, the Mumabi-based cab aggregator ApnaCabs is planning to enter the capital riding on its robust technology and proper mechanism coupled with experience.

A management graduate from US, Srikanth Lingidi, founder and CEO of ApnaCabs, spoke to BW Businessworld after successful aggregation of ‘Kaali-Peeli’ taxis of Mumbai and his focus on business strategies with integration of technology.

After your success in Mumbai, what are your plans for Delhi?
ApnaCabs is a contrarian aggregator and was born with a vision to address the gaps prevalent in the current taxi aggregation business. Our success in Mumbai is defined by our choice of operations that is focused on building a sustainable business model. We are not caught up in the rush to acquire customers with huge discounts - that is not our model. We have invested a significant amount of time, energy and money to understand the pain points of the entire ecosystem and we are happy to share that we have built a robust mechanism to address those challenges - be it the taxi rider, the customer or the revenue models.

The patent pending security model is a testimony to our intent of creating the difference. We will replicate this model across the country and do a phase wise launch in all major cities including Delhi.

What have you learnt from your own experiences in Mumbai?
We have leant that customers or taxi drivers are willing to partner with you if the fundamentals are in place. Hence we have taken an approach to the business which is not identical to other players in the market. We feel that discounting alone cannot be the prime driver of business and does not create value in the long term. We have seen the fallout in the e-commerce business already.

How are you going to ensure safety of the passengers?
ApnaCOP is a simple yet effective technology enabled security system that has been devised by ApnaCabs. The panic button in the ApnaCOP security box fixed in the taxi will enable any passenger to use it effectively in case they sense of any threat. On activation the system sets off a chain of events - including alerting the police. The technology and process ensures that there are quick steps such a call on loud speaker installed on the security box, followed by call to the driver’s phone, the customer’s phone from the call centre and an alert to the police station and near ones selected by the customer in case of emergency with the coordinates of the vehicle. The system is designed to act as a deterrent

What is your aggregation rate in Delhi and who are they?
Currently we are in the process of setting up our operations across various cities; details of the same can be shared in due course.

Any plan to aggregate Delhi's Auto in your services?
Currently we do not have plans to aggregate the Auto services. Our focus is to get the taxi aggregation model right as a sustainable business model, ensure hassle free and secure customer rides and other gaps addressed effectively addressed either by technology or process. We feel that Auto aggregation may dilute our focus at this stage.

How are you going to compete with Ola and Uber?
Credit must go to Uber and Ola for creating attention and spurring various business models around taxi aggregation. India is a huge country and its people are continuously consuming various services and products.

Like every business we believe that the taxi aggregation business has a huge potential - much beyond the very attractive numbers that are always predicted. Customer are looking for various options and we are of the opinion that 'one size fits all' does not serve everyone's purpose.

Our business model and focus is quite different. We are not competing with any of the pioneers for the same business. We are a licensed operator, we have a security model in place, our revenues models are not competing and we have multiple streams. Our objective is to plug the gaps. We will never do massive discounting or surge pricing - we want to make it very predictable be it to the customer or the taxi driver or our investors.

We believe that these are very different from what is the current mindset.

How much investment have you done in Delhi?
It’s too early to comment on the same.

What's your opinion on Delhi's Odd-Even rule?
What is admirable is that a very tough decision to impose such an initiative was taken to evaluate if the problem of pollution can be addressed. It may not be the most popular, yet something was needed to be done to determine whether it will work or not; from that point of view I admire the Delhi government’s courage to take such a step.

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