Once upon a time, travelling used to be an easy job when one could step out of the house and hail an auto rickshaw or a taxi. Now, the increasing number of travellers and reducing number of cabs have made it a difficult task to accomplish. While radio cabs come to the rescue at times, they do not always fall under the affordability bracket, and given the dearth of taxis, they are not always available either.
Trying to solve this problem in one of the busiest cities of India, Mumbai, is Bookmycab’s mobile application that allows users in the financial capital of the country to book black and yellow metered local cabs from their Android phones.
How does the app work?
Bookmycab.com is licensed by State Transport Authority, Maharashtra State Mumbai. Users need to register and sign in the application to leverage its services. The first step to book a cab is to select the required package; for instance, point to point, airport transfer, railway station transfer, etc. After selecting the package, users need to mark the pickup point and the destination. The final step would be booking confirmation wherein consumers provide all the required details.
Once booked, users are sent driver information. They can also track where the cab has reached and how much time it will take to reach to them through the track cab feature of the app.
Avinash Gupta ,CEO, Bookmycab.com
The application also allows users to book a cab without internet connection.“GPRS and 3G can still be unreliable,” said Avinash Gupta, CEO, Bookmcab.com. “Thus, if your internet is not working, the application gives you an option to book the cab with a text message.”
To book a cab in the absence of internet, users need to hit the send button when the app prompts ‘Not connected to the Internet, use SMS to book a cab?’ The booking details and the confirmation will be received by users through SMS. Users can also do guest booking for friends and family who might be travelling to the city.
The application is currently available only on Android, and will soon be launched on iOS and Windows platform.
It enables to leverage Bookmycab’s network of 3000 taxis across the Mumbai metropolitan region.
Extending services to auto rickshaws
Transport is difficult in all Indian metros, and thus consumers could benefit a lot from services restricted not just to cabs. While there are services for cabs, buses, trains and the huge auto rickshaw network have not been catered to so far.
On being asked about the auto rickshaw network, Gupta expressed that Bookmycab has been doing its ground work. “We have a strong network for cabs. Right now, we are researching on the auto rickshaw network and looking at consumers’ demands for it,” added Gupta.
Marketing and monetisation
Bookmycab is currently pushing the new application mainly amongst its existing users (the service has been available for a couple of years via phone call and email). A discount of INR 20 is being offered on a booking done through the mobile application. Also, it is being promoted on the website’s social media pages.
Gupta shared with e27 that the application is aimed at user convenience, and thus the mobile service is available to them for no extra fee. While the app is free of advertisements now, he did not comment on whether they will be added in the future.
Radio cabs have a dense network in Mumbai, and with the growing importance of mobile as a communication platform, almost all service providers have mobile presence.
Tab Cab, Meru Cab and Cabsguru are a few applications that help commuters book a cab on the go. Not only do these apps have the early-mover advantage, they also have special elements that Bookmycab will have to battle to create a loyal user base.
The Tab Cab application offers a feature that allows users to get traffic updates from in and around the users’ pickup location at the time of the pickup. Meru’s mobile application has an ICE Alert security feature that consumers can use in case of emergency. The feature was designed keeping in mind increasing crimes against women in the country.
Bookmycab.com is run by Live Minds Solutions, an initiative of IIT Bombay alumnus Avinash Gupta, Raviraj Jain and JS Nimbalkar. The website has received funding from YourNest Angel Fund and Mumbai Angels.
“Right now, we are growing at a health rate and are not looking at funding,” expressed Gupta speaking about plans for 2014. “We are working on a break-through application, which is expected to release in the next few months,” he concluded.
Bookmycab is looking at expanding its services to other cities in the coming year.