[quote style=”boxed”]If you have an idea that can be converted into a potential business, please work out the financial, know the figures and ensure funds are arranged before you start. Also, have a strong team to implement the model. Devote all of your talent and time to building and scaling your core business before you move on to any other idea.[/quote]
Hemant Jain is the founder of rickshawale.com, which he created in 2010 after fracturing his leg. On the day of the accident, Hermant struggled to find a rickshaw to take him to the doctor and get a X-ray. This convinced him that in a city like Mumbai where rickshaws are the back bone of transportation, rickshaws should come to the passenger’s doorstep and pick up him/her. This thought took Hemant to the streets of Mumbai to meet rickshaw drivers, understand their business operations and get insights into their lifestyles. These inputs and understanding helped build the rickshawale.com business. Today, 450 rickshaw drivers are associated as member of rickshawale.com. These drivers ferry customer that book a ride via rickshawale.com.
Hemant also designed the GPRS technology for tracking rickshaws, which he uses to operate his business.
Hemant is a chartered accountant and has extensive experience in logistics, finance and commercial operations. Prior to rickshawale.com, Hemant served as business head at India’s largest petrochemical company, Reliance Logistics Limited, from 2004 to 2009. At Reliance Logistics, Hemant pioneered many logistical processes for liquid cargo movement, which are emulated by major petrochemical companies throughout India.
Hemant was born and raised in Mumbai.
What are you working on right now?
I am presently working on scaling our model for rickshawale.com to other cities in India. Sine my technology is adaptable to any mode of transportation, I am also working on implementing the same model for taxis in Mumbai.
Where did the idea for Rickshawale.com come from?
I am a chartered accountant by profession and prior to starting rickshawale, I worked as a business head at Reliance Logistics Ltd. I quit my job in mid-2009 and took a break to pursue other interests. During this period, I was thinking of starting a business in logistics since I have vast experience in this field and thought I could contribute to this industry.
In April 2010, I fractured my leg and used crutches to walk. Whenever I wanted to travel, I had to send someone to bring an auto rickshaw to my doorstep. At that time, I wondered why an auto rickshaw is not used like a radio cab. The whole idea started from this thought and evolved into rickshawale.com.
I started working on this concept in May 2010 and it took me 1 year to finalize a low cost tracking option through GPRS technology. Radio cabs operate on GPS technology and the equipment is costly; we could not afford to install a costly device into a rickshaw due to security, so we had to develop a system to track the driver instead of the rickshaw. Along with the tracking, we had to incorporate the function of passing on fares and the driver accepting the same.
In June 2011, I actually formed the business and the whole project started. After a lot of options, my colleague Sandeep Agarwal and I narrowed down the name and settled on rickshawale.com. The name gives the proper understanding of the project and also a respect to the rickshaw driver.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day is full of challenges while servicing customer calls from various parts of Mumbai.
We have a 24/7 operations and since we are a startup, we have daily issues which need to be ironed out. The day starts at 10:00 AM and goes until 8:00 or 9:00 PM. After that, I head home and try to relax with my family. I often listen to my 8 years old daughter Aashna sing while she does her practice of Hindustani classical music.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas keep on churning in one’s mind; we need to put the ideas on a drawing board and look at the possibility of converting them into reality. I thought about making the rickshaw driver into a marketing agent who also does sales pitches for products while ferrying passengers. This activity generates additional income for the driver.
We put the complete idea into a module and convinced LOOP Mobile India Limited, Mumbai’s largest & most reputable Mobile Network Company, to give us the Distributorship to sell their Mobile connections to passengers who travel in our rickshaws. LOOP Mobile India Limited is also powering the GPRS technology on which rickshawale.com operates.
This idea worked very well and today our drivers are selling mobile connections to passengers while driving their rickshaws.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Technology which can help mankind improve lives; especially in India where 70% of the population lives in villages and many villages do not have the basic necessities.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Heading a trucking company and handling truck drivers. I learned a lot about the human part of these people and also how intelligent and innovative truck drivers are. These people are the true backbone of any economy, transporting material across the country.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
When we officially launched on October 12, 2011, we received over 1,000 daily bookings in the first 15 days. Unfortunately, we did not have the required number of rickshaws to service these calls, thus we created a feeling of discontent in the minds of customers. If I were to start again, I would ensure we have the required number of rickshaws to service all the calls received at our call center and not let a single customer get disheartened.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
If you have an idea that can be converted into a potential business, please work out the financial, know the figures and ensure funds are arranged before you start. Also, have a strong team to implement the model. Devote all of your talent and time to building and scaling your core business before you move on to any other idea.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Set up an organization which can invest in solar energy devices (e.g., street lamps) for remote villages in India. Develop a financial model with the local government to revenue share. The villages would get access to basic services which improves their living standards and the business would have a reliable income stream.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Mahabharata, the epic narrative of the Kurushetra War and the fate of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material. It has a detailed discussion of the 4 goals of life: dharma (right action), artha (purpose), karma (pleasure) and moksha (liberation). All the discussions still hold true in modern day life and have a lot of practical relevance.
What’s on your playlist?
If you weren’t working on Rickshawale, what would you be doing?
I would be doing a project to improve education and living conditions in Indian villages.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @rntata2000: Ratan Tata is the chairman of the TATA Group, India largest conglomerate. Tata is responsible for getting the group on the international map. He is the brains behind producing the world’s cheapest car nano.
- @dalailama: The Dalai Lama’s tweets are simple and so prophetically true. Compassion is the ultimate source of success in life.
- @richshawale: us
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laughed in the office two days back. We received a call in our call center from a father of a 16 years old boy who wanted our GPRS tracking device to put on his son’s leg. He wanted to track him and find out where he goes when he should be studying.
Who is your hero?