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Driving rickshaws in modern India and beyond

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Founded in November 2014 by a handful of IITians, Jugnoo began as India’s first auto-rickshaw aggregator with the objective of making daily commute easy and reliable. After bringing the on-demand revolution to daily commute, we expanded our vision and dream of touching everyday lives in a much bigger way. With 10,00,000 transactions per month across 45+ cities, what began as a small company in 2014 is now spearheading the evolution of the local Indian marketplace into a Digital Reality. Jugnoo now provides a wide range of local services on-demand - Auto-Rides, Groceries, Food Delivery, Meals, Logistics and even a location-based local social network.

Automated rickshaws are a popular mode of transport in India, particularly in smaller cities. However, the sector is still chaotic, and many sit idle, while commuters search for an auto rickshaw. To fill this gap Samar Singla and Chinmay Agarwal founded Jugnoo in 2014. It is India’s largest technology driven on-demand auto rickshaw aggregator, which connects riders with safe, reliable, convenient auto rickshaw just in few clicks.

There are around 50,000 auto rickshaws in the tier 1 cities of India. Again in tier 2 cities, there are approx 15000-30000 auto rickshaws. The concept of auto aggregator is quite new in India. However many newbies, as well as leaders like Uber and Ola, have entered the autoaggregation sector.

Jugnoo was founded by Samar Singla and Chinmay Agarwal in 2014. Samar also founded Click Labs. He also has been a researcher at the University of Maryland and IBM. He has also contributed as a scientist at CERN, Geneva. His mission is to change billions of lives with the help of technology.  Samar is now the CEO of the company.

Chinmay pursued masters in robotics from the University of Genoa and been a scientist at Smart Cane. He co-founded Click Labs with Samar. Chimay also has patent of Methods and applications for altitude measurement and fusion of user context detection with elevation motion for personal navigation systems. Chinmay is now the COO of the company.

In the beginning, Jugnoo’s founders, Samar and Chinmay were unaware of the major influence they were about to make on the daily lives of the common commuters and the Auto drivers. Initiated with a casual attitude, soon they realized the situation was way more challenging than anticipated. Jugnoo is Samar’s third venture, after Prodigy Foods, which he exited in two years, and started SaaS technology solution provider Click Labs.

The company has 400+ employees currently. Samar stresses on the need to keep one’s employees motivated. Talk to them, be very transparent and align with them for the long term.

Starting Up

Samar observed that the major issues in the auto transport network were the obstinately uncooperative attitude of the auto drivers, unavailability and unreasonable charges. The idea was to tap the potential public transport medium in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, i.e., the auto rickshaw, so public can hail it by using the mobile app and the auto drivers can save on the waiting time; a concept similar to the taxi services like Ola. Jugnoo App was introduced on all the major platforms in smartphones such as ios, Android and Windows. Users can also book Jugnoo rides using Jugnoo’s Facebook bot.

Jugnoo means firefly. According to Samar, the word Jugnoo is related to nostalgia and happy memories. When people see an auto with a Jugnoo sticker, it becomes easier for them to remember Jugnoo company. The name, thus, has a recall value.

Jugnoo initially started as an on-demand autorickshaw service. But as it was smooth on the rails, the founders took a leap and launched various new services such:

  • Dodo deliveries – It enables vendors to deliver goods to their customers.
  • Jugnoo Bot – which allows the customers to hail the rickshaw from any platform.
  • Flight map – planned out the route and resources in advance and save fuel and time.
  • Multilingual interface for drivers – with over eight languages other than English.
  • Fatafat – hyperlocal deliveries like food, grocery, veggies. Fatafat was shut down in October 2015. The service was launched again in Chandigarh in May 2016, after acquiring SabKuch Fresh.
  • Menus – The company had earlier launched Jugnoo meals. However, it was closed down in October 2015, and in 2017 it was re-launched as Menus. Jugnoo Menus has brought on board  popular restaurants and outlets like Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Baskin Robins, Super Donut, Burger point, Rolla costa, Copper Chimney, Marky Momos and Dhaba.com
  • AskLocal – The AskLocal feature of the Jugnoo app will not only provide local information but is also a platform where the users can ask questions, give recommendations and share content. It is a geolocation-based platform and is operational across all locations covered by Jugnoo.

Business Model

Pricing at Jugnoo differs on a city to city basis. The strategy is to be the most affordable A-2-B transport option for the app users in that city. Some cities have a base fare + per km + per minute charge, some cities operate on meter fare. You can check the rates in different cities by downloading the app and searching for the cities. The fare is displayed in the bottom bar.

Jugnoo charges a commission back from the drivers. The commission rate is 10% of the ticket size in most cities. they run a number of incentive schemes for the drivers, this again is based on the stage of maturity in a city and the engagement level of the drivers. It is trying to build efficiency in the market where the final income of driver through Jugnoo should increase to significantly more than what they were earning on the road and the customer get a predictable and cost-effective medium of transport. For food delivery, the company charges merchants a commission and pays the auto drivers for delivery.

In the initial days, Samar and Chinmay themselves met the auto drivers and explained the concept of the company. Convincing them to integrate technology in their routine work was quite a challenging task. Besides for making the Jugnoo app familiar to the target customer, the app was launched at PECFEST of PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh. Also, free rides were provided to people in Chandigarh.

Marketing Strategy of Jugnoo is simple; they make their customers and drivers their promoters. They have tapped the dual capacity of home delivery and on-demand availability of public transport. They are growing exponentially in major metros by forging a strategic alliance with partners that adds to its potential customer base. Jugnoo also made a media presence by making Saumya Tondon, a well-known TV and films actress its face. According to Samar, Jugnoo has benefited a lot from word of mouth publicity.  Jugnoo runs user referral programs and social media campaigns to attract new customers. Jugnoo stayed in buzz with news like enrolling the first female auto driver, crossing 10k rides per day in Delhi NCR, backing series B funding even after Shutdown of Fatafat and Jugnoo Meals.

Challenges

In Samar’s words, the initial challenges, which could be attributed to the demography of the tier 2 locations, were the reluctance of the drivers to use the technology and to break mental barriers of the customers and introduce new ideas.

The two other major hiccups in the otherwise seamless journey were Jugnoo Fatatfat, which did home delivery of custom orders from stores within the city to customers. It was launched in March 2015 with an idea of in cashing the auto network, however, it was shut down after being operational for eight months. Also Jugnoo had to close down Jugnoo Meal in October 2015.

However the company later re-launched Fatafat and launched Jugnoo menus.

Team Jugnoo stands by the bumpy rides and says that they have chosen to be careful rather than keep investing in something which out returns us a loss. All this while they used less than half of their reservoirs and concentrated on growing as a lean and productive unit.

Jugnoo has a great market presence in the arena of Auto rickshaw aggregators competes with startups like mGaadi, TeleRichshaw and AUTOnCaB’s. However, the concept of Jugnoo is unique as it focuses only on auto rickshaw space.

Growth

For expansion and enhance customer base jugnoo tied up with a travel search engine called Ixigo, a personal assistant application by the name of Helpchat( Tapzo), a public transportation information mobile app Zophop, an app with meta-search platforms to compare modes of transport on the basis of price called Oye Taxi and Scoot. The payment gateways like Paytm and Mobikwik have digitized payments for Jugnoo. Punjab National Bank and Piaggio provided the drivers with easy funding options. Collaborating with connoisseurs from the industry like Anand Prakash also made Jugnoo shine brighter.

In the span of 3 years Jugnoo acquired Sabkuch Fresh, a logistics services firms which delivered Groceries and hence expanded its services to grocery & fresh meals, food delivery from a choice of restaurants, payments and deliveries. It also acquired Yelo in September 2015. In July 2016, the company acquired taxi aggregator BookMyCab, which operates in Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad and is licensed to operate in Delhi.

Put together, some of the major achievements of Jugnoo are

  • Jugnoo established itself as the leading auto-rickshaw aggregator company of India, with around 40,000 people transacting per day.
  • The company has developed customer-centric services such as B2B deliveries, Food grocery and meals delivery using auto- rickshaw,  which is a unique business idea.
  • Jugnoo has come up with latest technologies like Jugnoo Bot which allows the customer to hail rickshaw from any platform, Flight map which aids the drivers in planning the routes to save time and fuel, a multi-lingual interface for drivers and AskLocal a hyperlocal geo-location-based feature that helps users to stay connected and share content.
  • Jugnoo is constantly exploring new avenues. It has launched its services in diverge fields like 3D printing with Printo, end to end field force management solution Tookan, real time customer support app – Fugu, work flow automation tool – Bumbl and geo analytics technology – Data Loops
  • The company has been able to attract funding from biggies like Paytm and Snow Leopard Technology Ventures. Jugnoo raised a whopping $16 million in external funding
  • Jugnoo has more than 12000 autos registered with it.
  • Jugnoo is operating across 45+ cities
  • It has a registered user base of  8 million.
  • In April 2018, the company started operations in Singapore, it had to close down in August 2018, owing to challenges it faced while recruiting drivers in Singapore. However Jugnoo tied up with Singapore’s local aggregator app Kardi. Jugnoo is providing technical expertise and engineering support to Kardi.
  • Jugnoo also affirms to have international presence in Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, Bermuda, Panama, Mombasa, Oman, Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, England, UAE and the US.

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