Delhi-based 74 BC Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs bike taxi startup Baxi, has forayed into the cab-aggregation space through tie-ups with drivers in various cities, cashing in on their growing discontent against Ola and Uber which have slashed driver incentives.
Ashutosh Johri, co-founder and chief executive of Baxi, told VCCircle that around 1,000 drivers in Mumbai and Delhi have signed up on the Baxi app in the last three days. The company has also tied up with taxi unions in Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Hyderabad, where it will soon launch its services.
Baxi will neither charge commissions from drivers, nor have surge pricing, Johri said. The app will have features such as roadside hailing for customers and direct payment for drivers.
The fares would be regulated by a committee comprising members of the local taxi union, the company said. It acknowledges that the fares will be lower than that stipulated by the government in these cities, but will allow drivers to earn a comfortable amount every month without external subsidies.
In Mumbai, for instance, Baxi will charge a base fee of Rs 50, Rs 1 per minute and Rs 9 per kilometre, taking the total cost for a 10-kilometre ride to Rs 175. “There won’t be any service tax as customers will directly pay to drivers,” Johri said.
“We are not offering any discount to customers or any incentive to drivers,” he added. Interestingly, Baxi doesn’t restrict drivers on its platforms from signing up with other taxi aggregators.
Baxi was launched as a bike-riding service in May 2015 by IIT Delhi batchmates Ashutosh Johri and Manu Rana. Johri has worked with Siemens, Iridium, Ericsson, IBM and Cisco. After a brief consulting stint at AT Kearney, he moved to Africa to set up operations for Mara Ison Technologies, where he was CEO for four years. Johri drew inspiration from bike taxi services he came across in Africa to start one in India.
Rana, after his MS in the US, worked with a number of Silicon Valley startups before returning to India. He subsequently became product head at BookMyShow and chief product officer at IgniteWorld, a joint venture between Bharti group and SoftBank.
Baxi raised its Series A round in December 2015 from HT Media, Dalmia Bharat Group, and PE industry veterans Manish Kheterpal and Alok Mittal.
The company, which started with full-time bike taxis, has now moved to a part-time model where people who already have jobs can buy a bike at 100% financing and do a few trips in the morning and evening. They also earn advertising revenue by retailing jackets and helmets.
The startup, which raised $1.4 million a year ago, claims to have become operationally profitable in the past few months. “We used our learning of the past year and a half in the business to tweak the partner mobile app to cater to cab drivers,” Johri said.
In the bike taxi segment, Baxi faces competition from Ola and Uber, which are deep-pocketed. Baxi is not the only firm in the transport services space to venture into cab aggregation. The three-wheeler aggregation startup Jugnoo, which is backed by One97 Communications (Paytm), forayed into the space about a month back.
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