The SMART Taxi – Enriching the way people travel in a cab
When and how did you start?
” The idea about this venture first came in 2012 during an air travel, however, it took 4 years for me to put this on the ground , due to the lacuna in guts as I was salaried. Finally, I resign from the job and started this venture on Sep 16 ” Says The Founder Dhruvam Thaker.
The concept of The SMART Taxi is all about customer satisfaction, delivering highest Qualitative and unique cab riding experience. In a nut a shell, it’s a cab service offering the hospitality of Airways and Features like a well stared hotel.
During my corporate tenure, there were lots of business road trips and personal. The cab was the highest used medium for such journeys. I was noticing that despite paying a healthy amount of businesses, cab operators were not delivering the services as per the standards, issues like not fulfilling their commitment, time punctuality, bad behavior, rash driving, car hygiene etc. , were so common and observed quite frequently. During the same time, I was also doing few journeys through Flight and was staying in well-stared hotels. The level of hospitality was completely different.
During a flight journey in 2012, when cabin crew was a briefing about safety instruction, I got the first glance of an idea about The SMART Taxi, which was, “ What if I merge cab services with the hospitality of Airways and Features like a well-stared hotel “?
Post resigning from Job, I have started conducting a market survey by walking on the street and asking an individual to rate the concept based on 13 questions, on a scale of 1 to 5. I have collected almost 163 Surveys, covering individual from different professions, gender and age group. While analyzing the result, it was clear that customers were in a need for such services even in 2016, which is quality centric, professional and value for money.
5th Sep 2016, I have started this concept by purchasing a new cab, by investing all the left out savings, PF, and recurring deposits. My Wife and my family were not happy with this decision, but they still helped me financially in buying a cab and we started. Social media was the best option for us as it was available at lesser cost and visibility was also quite good. Our prices were slightly higher compared to app-based cab aggregator, which we found as a challenge to grab customers initially, but we stick to our strategy of “Targeting Classes rather than masses” and finally orders started flowing in.
It was tough to manage the entire stuff single-handed, but the inner force and passion behind setting up this venture were giving me the energy to do everything together. Almost all the orders, I have executed by myself at least for 3-4 months and then started approaching other cab partners for joining the team.
How did you come up with the idea? Your inspiration moment
During a flight journey in 2012, when cabin crew was the briefing about safety instruction, I got the first glance of the idea about The SMART Taxi, which was, “ What if I merge a cab services with the hospitality of Airways and Features like a well-stared hotel “?
Brief about the organization and founding members
We are a proprietorship firm and bootstrapped to date. Founded in Sep 2016 , We at ” The SMART Taxi”, Ahmadabad based Cab aggregation company, with a vision to become India’s No.1 Cab company in customer satisfaction by 2025 , we always work towards creating a unique cab riding experience for our clients and society, which helps them in making their business / personal travel, a memorable experience, at an optimized cost!
We achieve this by offering well-maintained cabs which are equipped with state of the art travel-friendly features, driven by well trained and extremely courteous professionals, which actually differentiate us in the industry and makes us as the most professional, reliable, safe and a class apart brand!
We offer cabs for Monthly Fix Cabs, On Call cabs for outstation, City roaming, Airport and Railway Station Transfers. Service portfolio varies from city to city based on the market need. Currently, we are present in 4 Cities including Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Jaipur, with 32+ highly maintained cabs driven by well trained and courteous professionals, offering amazing cab experience. All our cabs are following a standard procedure in a sequential manner during the entire ride, starting from opening the door for customers till dropping them.Features like “Wi-Fi” , amazon kindle, magazine, water bottle, meditation music during a ride, offering dry snacks etc., payment acceptance in any mode and printed invoice (Soft copy), add more in making the experience richer.
Our company policy is customer friendly, as we do not charge even a single penny from a customer if their experience was unpleasing during a ride.
80% of our revenue comes from corporate accounts (B2B) and balance from individual customers. In Span of 1.5 Year we have grown continually in almost every parameter of business like orders, customer acquisitions, expansions, repeat bookings, corporate accounts, referral ration etc. 2 out of every 3 rides we execute as repeat bookings. 3 out of every 4 customer ride with us as Referral.
“Believing in you till the last breath of your life and keep running to fulfill your passion”. This statement looks a perfect fit when I recall the initial days before starting this venture. Being a mechanical engineer with a silver medal, definitely, no parents or wife wants his child or husband to resign from his well-paid job, start a cab company and driving a cab as a driver.
” Being a shy by nature, I was always an obedient child for my parents and followed almost all instructions what they have given me. But this decision was the First, which I was not ready to listen to anyone, despite every one tried convincing me. There was an inner voice which was driving me, to make the vision true and same is even until today ” Says the Founder Dhruvam
The biggest challenge was about coming out from a job seeker mentality and starting something on your own, which took almost 4 years but finally a day has come, where I felt to resign from the job and starting a new venture.
I started conducting a survey by taking a survey questionnaire and walking on the road, asking an individual to rate for the concept from a scale of 1 to 5, to understand success ratio of concept in the market.
From my left out savings, RD, PF and with help from family members I have purchased a cab and started driving as a driver. Initial two months were very tough, as there were no orders at all. But then things started taking off.
I have also approached Banks, individual investors for loan and funds, however, no help was found at that time. At the time I got frustrated, but I was sure that whatever may be the case or scenario, I have to move on.
We have placed our prices marginally higher than other app-based services, due to service quality, which was a challenge initial days to make customers convinced, that why and for what they are paying extra? However, We were confident in our services and focused on our targeted segments. Being a service, we wanted our customers to book a ride, seat inside the cab and have a feeling.To do so, we started offering the first ride with discounted rates. It paid off! We started getting referrals and repeat orders, despite higher pricing.
In parallel, I started approaching other cab partners, to join and ride with us. Our transparency in payment and terms helped us in gaining qualitative partners who can deliver services as per our set standards.
We started approaching corporate companies, to fulfill their cab needs and the response was overwhelming. Our company policy, business-friendly payment policy, assured quality, continual innovation in services and corporate referral programs helped us becoming on board with many of the multinationals and well known corporate companies.
After completing one year, we started expanding our services into other cities of Gujarat like Vadodara and Rajkot and now We are covering one of the City of Rajasthan (Jaipur) Also. Till Dec 2020, we have the plan to expand the services, in all metros and tier 1 cities.
Challenges and Opportunities/ Marketing Strategies
Rather than targeting to a mass segment which was targeted by well-known app based international and national players, from day one, It was clear that “The SMART Taxi” will offer services for an individual or business, for whom service quality matters the most. It is often observed that such individuals are more brands centric and are loyal customers.
We have started publishing contents on social Media and walk-in to corporates for orders. A qualitative Service delivered in a standardized sequence, ride by ride, in every ride, 24X7, which helped us in gaining the confidence of our customers. Through word of mouth, we started getting enquiries and orders.
While Selecting Cab partners, we select only sedan and MUV cabs. We don’t want our partners to deliver the services just like a driver coz It is often noticed that such feeling ended in unpleasing experience for the customers.
As a reason, we work with a limited number of partners, but with those who can add value to the organization. All our process of cab on-boarding designed to match the above-said goals. We start from collecting photographs of the car and verifying documents, then we conducted a telephonic interview with a driver to understand his knowledge about driving and customer behavior. Next comes training. We train all our partners through a video tutorial on delivering the service in a standardized manner in every ride. We educate them about things which need to be taken care while driving, assisting customers, car hygiene, economical driving etc. our training module also educates our partners on extra care one need to take while riding with senior citizens, physically challenged and pregnant lady.
To win the confidence, we ensure that we pay to our partners on time, electronically, which we are succeeded till date.
Future plans and funding
With a vision to become “India’s No 1 Cab company in Customer Satisfaction, by 2025”, we have all our benchmarks set. It includes growth from every aspect of a business, by keeping customer satisfaction as a center. We have strong and steady scale-up plans covering metros and tier 1 cities by 2020. We have continual running innovations in our service and feature offerings, running timely, to offer something new to our customers, time to time.
About Funding, we had approached to few angel investors and VCs for the funding in the past, but yet to get succeeded. We will keep on trying.
A quote from the founder on the journey, or dealing with the challenge, or any inspiring moment
” No dream is too big if you have a right passion to achieve it,” Says Dhruvam
EXCLUSIVE: Founder’s advice to budding entrepreneurs
“Believing in you“ – is matter the most in a startup. I would also like to share a quote which is very famous in Gujarati; we have a quote that “During starting, we have to give 1000 days’ dedicatedly to business. After 1000 days business will give back to you”, Says the Founder Dhruvam Thaker.
Loss or profit, business or no business, don’t lose focus from your purpose for which you have started this venture. Keep trying
Provide some statistics like revenues or clients acquisition
– We are available in 4 Cities Currently.
– Holding 11 Corporate accounts.
– We have more than 32 cabs on board.
– 2 out of every 3 rides we execute is repeated booking.
– 3 out of every 4 customers ride with us by hearing word of mouth.
– We have completed more than 550 rides in the span of 1.5 years, with average billing value as Rs 2800 INR per ride.
Your website / apps / and contact details
We are a call based service where an individual can call on our 24X7 booking helpline number and placed bookings.
Booking Helpline:- 823-888-333-5