If the app is offline, Baxi uses an SMS to send the user’s location and requests to the server, finds the closest Baxi for him, and responds to him with that information
Having lived in Bangalore for most parts of my career, I have witnessed the worst of road traffics, several times. If you want to reach your office, say, at 10 am, you need to leave home at least two hours earlier, to cover just a 10 km stretch. Worse, if it is a rainy day, the traffic moves at a snail’s pace, creating a pandemonium of sorts on the streets.
Contrary to the public perception, the arrival of Ola and Uber cabs have worsened the situation.
No wonder many of these online taxi booking platforms have forayed into bike taxi services.
No doubt, bike taxi is the future of transportation, especially in fast-growing cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, where traffic woes affect daily lives. Cost efficiency and time saving are some of the advantages of bike taxis, prompting many entrepreneurs to innovate around this.
This is exactly the reason why two entrepreneurs have started Baxi. Launched in Gurgaon (now Gurugram) in December last year, Baxi (currently only on Android) aims is to simplify first-and last-mile connectivity for people all across India, through its on-demand motor bike taxi service.
No Internet required
Baxi was incorporated in 2015 by Manu Rana and Ashutosh Johri — both 1995 batch alumni of IIT Delhi. Rana has worked with product startups throughout his career, starting with i2 Technologies (in the early days) and Match.com in the US, before returning to India as VP – Products at Book My Show.com and Chief Product Officer at Ignite World (JV of Bharti and Softbank).
Johri is a Telecom and IT industry veteran with over a billion dollars of sales experience at companies like Ericsson, Iridium, IBM, Cisco and AT Kearney. In his last role, as CEO of Mara Ison Technologies, he had set up and run profitable operations across 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
According to Rana, there is a big lacuna in the first- and last-mile transportation space in India.
While there are at least half-a dozen bike taxi apps in India, no app works when there is no Internet connectivity. This is where Baxi comes into the picture.
“The user opens the app, and presses the book button to get the nearest Baxi. If the app is offline, we use an SMS to send the user’s location and request to our server, find the closest Baxi for him, and respond to him with that information. The app reads the SMS, and displays the drivers information and location to the user in the same way as it would do in an online booking,” Rana explains.
Baxi also has an SOS number for emergencies. Another notable feature of the app is that when using the non-data app, the customer can be tracked by Baxi for its safety. The startup is also working on a way for the customer to be able to self-monitor as well in that mode.
It also provides insurance for both the Baxi buddy and the customers. Also, the customers are provided with a hairnet and helmet before the ride, and a wet wipe after the journey.
As for payments, customer can pay in cash. Baxi also offers a mobile wallet, which can be recharged through the driver buddy at the end of the ride.
“We are also in talks with various external wallet providers to integrate their services. And with the launch of NPCI’s Unified Payment Interface, we are actively looking to take advantage of it,” Rana adds.
All the drivers contracted to Baxi undergo extensive defensive driving training and are certified by the police.
Bikes taxis are stuck in the legal traffic
No Indian federal governments — barring Goa and Haryana — recognise private bike taxis.
Early last month, the Bangalore regional transport authority seized five two-wheeler taxis belonging to UberMOTO and Ola Bike, for violating the Motor Vehicles Act.
So, Baxi took cautious steps when launching its service. The startup worked closely with the Haryana government to implement changes in the Indian Motor Vehicle Act to add bike taxis as commercial vehicles. As a result, the government passed a resolution in 2015 to allow individuals to register commercial bikes across the state.
Currently operational only in Gurgaon and Faridabad, the startup is planning to expand its services to multiple cities, including Delhi where the government is working on an odd-even formula with an aim to reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
As of now, over 300 riders have registered with Baxi. The company also says it has crossed over 128,000 rides in Gurugram and Faridabad since launch in December 2015.
The startup banks on a subscription model where it will charge driver buddies a fixed amount per day to use its services, which include marketing, technology support, government liaising and a starter kit.
“Our main aim is to simplify first-and last-mile connectivity for everyone. Our target customer is anyone who is looking at last mile connectivity. Baxi aims to be a transportation option for all – whether they are young or old, have a smart phone or not. Most of our current customers are people who live in less connected neighbourhoods and people who need to get from metro stations to their final destination,” Rana comments.
In November last year, Baxi raised US$1.5 million in what could be one of the first seed round investments in the country.
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