Public transport services such as the metro rail in the bigger cities of India has made daily commute comfortable but local transit tech start-up Ridlr has gone a step further and added a layer of digitisation to public transport in India. The company was launched to address pain points of local commuters. “We gather raw data from bus and train agencies and convert it into intelligible information that is relevant to commuters,” explained Brijraj Vaghani, founder and CEO of Ridlr. Ridlr analyses information on public transport services including traffic updates, schedules, etc. The company uses data analytics for streamlining the flow of information to its users who commute via a particular route daily. It also creates a user profile in order to improve customer experience and reusability. It collaborates with agencies, understands their flow of information and then builds tools which help them fetch meaningful information and maintain data. “We had to set up the infrastructure and build user friendly applications on top of it—this was the biggest challenge for us,” he added. Vaghami sees immense opportunity in the market as traffic problems aggravate and lack of infrastructure in the country makes it difficult to make the local transit seamless. “For us, it is important to generate such data at scale and it must be reliable. Scale is important because this data should allow the user to complete his entire journey without any gaps. It has to be holistic information at scale,” he added.
One of the biggest challenges in India is lack of digital infrastructure which makes flow of information cumbersome. In western countries, the government takes the necessary steps to install sensors and scanners on the road and supply relevant data on roads. According to Vaghami, traffic conditions in India also call for sensors and scanners on the road to gauge the flow of traffic, clear routes, etc., but that is yet to happen in a big scale. Ridlr records about 30,000 transactions on a daily basis and bus services contribute 85% of the total transaction volume on Ridlr. Vaghami pointed that a single transaction can be for multiple rides, therefore the app powers over 150,000 trips every day. The company claims close to 3 million downloads and 1 million monthly active users. It is clocking 25-30% month-on-month growth in users. For revenue generation, the company charges a convenience fee for train and bus tickets. Additionally, agency pays one-time charge for technology while maintenance fee is recurring.
Ridlr’s latest offering is online ticketing for buses and metro services in Mumbai. Using the Ridlr mobile app, the user can book tickets via his mobile phone and the company has deployed the necessary hardware infrastructure. The company uses chip-based solutions at metro station and in buses. Ridlr plans to expand online ticketing for users in markets such as Bengaluru, Pune, Delhi, and Hyderabad over the next six months. The company will remain focussed on tier I markets in the first phase of expansion but is open to exploring opportunities in markets such as Madurai and Bhubaneswar, Vaghami added.
Given the government’s plans to replace all transacting platforms with smartphones, Vaghami seeks to make Ridlr a common mobility app which aggregates all forms of transportation under one application. The company raised its first round of seed funding of `2 crore in January 2012 and Series A funding of $2 million from Matrix Partners and Qualcomm in January 2014. It picked up its latest funding of $ 6 million in Series B funding led by investors such as Matrix, Qualcomm and Times Internet in April 2016. Vaghami said that a large part of the new fund was deployed in developing hardware infrastructure and marketing.