Founder & CEO
How was the overall experience of working for companies in UK such as, Philips Semiconductors and ST-Ericsson Mobile Platforms?
It was a great experience designing world class state-of-art technological products while working with these companies in United Kingdom. The experience taught me the art and science of creating complex products and managing extremely complex projects. I always had keen eye and aptitude of using technology and automation to the maximum possible extent. The similar principles and experience I am able to utilize while creating Wiwigo. We are almost fanatical about use of automation and application of technology to make operations scalable and efficient.
How did you come up with the idea of starting a company (Wiwigo) in taxi rental services while working for Cadence Design Systems India?
Well the idea started with my personal experience of cab rental services in India. It was around September 2014 when I was not able to book a train ticket from Delhi to Chandigarh. Eventually I hired a cab for Delhi to Chandigarh drop. But the driver charged me for round trip as he would not get the return booking. The conversation with the driver during that journey helped me form a clear picture of how taxi market functions in India. All this triggered the idea of starting wiwigo.com which was publically launched in April 2015. With intercity cab rental services customers face frequent issues with fare transparency, safety, quality of service, and driver behaviour. Wiwigo tackles these issues head on and provide a level of service that our customers expect.
The taxi rental and self-drive industry is on a boom, especially from the year 2015. How do you keep up with the ongoing competition?
The taxi business in India is categorized into two broad segments. One is intra-city, where customers travel from one point to another point within the same city. The other is intercity where customers travel from one city to another city. The intercity or outstation car rental market is full of round trip vendors. This industry is highly unorganized and fragmented. However, we do not see a lot of competition from organized players in inter-city travel space. Anyhow the market has enough headroom for many players to co-exist in this industry. At the same time, we are not complacent and believe that constant innovation and break neck speed of execution are only ways to keep a leg up on the competition. We are happy that so far we are able to demonstrate that.
How many vehicles are owned by your company? Are they all equipped with vehicle tracking system?
Wiwigo business model is based on capital light aggregation model. Hence the company does not own any vehicles. However, we have 7000+ cabs on our platform. GPS tracking is a minimum requirement for a cab to be registered with us. GPS tracking reduces our operational overhead and at the same time provides safety and security to our customers.
How is it going to help improve the services in terms of safety and overall ride experience?
Vehicle tracking allows our customers to monitor their cab before it arrives for the pickup. This helps tremendously to bridge navigational challenges and also keeps the customer updated on their cab’s movement. GPS tracking allows us to monitor moving vehicle and check any irregularity. This gives extra safety to our customers. Customer safety and security is of utmost importance to Wiwigo. Our coming version of mobile application would also show the places of interest and restaurants to the travelling customers. This would greatly enhance their travel experience.
Do you think some of the new features such as driver behaviour management will help improve the driving habits and in turn the improved operational efficiency? Do you also think in-cab coaching will be used in near future say 3-5 years from now?
Driver behaviour is an important area which could really improve the ride experience of a traveller. Our drivers are imparted in-person training for customer care excellence. They are also trained for deriving maximum mileage by observing number of driving practices such as driving at optimal speed, avoiding sudden acceleration and braking.
We intend to collect and analyse driving characteristics such as driving speed, braking and acceleration frequency. This data could then be used by automated in-cab coaching system to manage driver behaviour. We believe that automated in-cab coaching could bring further adherence to safety guidelines and would increase operational efficiency for our vendor partners.
Do you think that technologies such as vehicle tracking & fleet management can assist in improving operational efficiency of taxi services in India?
I believe that once fleet size grows over 50 vehicles, it becomes increasingly hard to manage that fleet manually. We use software solutions aggressively to manage our operations from bookings made to dispatch time management to en-route tracking to trip feedback. We are still to try fuel management solutions. Though we believe it could help in cost optimization which could lead to lower fares for customers in longer term. We firmly believe that automated and unmanned operations are the key to operational efficiency and hence to large scalability and profitability of taxi services.
How do you plan on expanding Wiwigo’s services to more cities in India?
Wiwigo plans to expand its operation in 50 more cities in next 6 months. We have an excellent team working on vendor acquisition and streamlining our operational processes. On the technology front, we are automating more and more components of our operations. We believe that this would help us expand our services exponentially.
How will Automotive Telematics in India help improve taxi services in future?
Automotive telematics is the future of taxi rental business not only in India but worldwide. Telematics can alert drivers of approaching hazards and impending accidents. It can help drivers with directions through unknown city or highway routes. It can also help taxi rental companies monitor their assets and their movement. Thus automotive telematics may help us provide safer rides, avoid navigational challenges, allow vehicle tracking for safety and provide rich in-cab experience through infotainment solutions.
Any thoughts on Driverless Car or Assisted Driving technologies?
Well regulatory approval, building up infrastructure, processes and legal regulations for driverless cars is a time taking and challenging task. I believe that driverless cars may start to appear on Indian roads after 2022. The assisted driving technology is more feasible option in the country. The assisted driving could help avoid accidents and can provide better ride experience. We may start to see use of assisted driving technology specially in luxury travel segment in next 2 years’ time.