QUEEN'S ROAD: A start-up is tapping into Bengaluru’s demand for freelance drivers, and hopes to expand to other cities soon.
DriveU is the effort of Ramprasad (Rahm) Shastry, Ashok Shastry and Amulmeet Singh Chadha. They have 50 drivers on their rolls and plan to hire more.
Shastry, who returned from the US in 2011, invested in TaxiforSure, and picked up the ropes of the cab business.
After exiting, he was wondering what next. “In Bengaluru, people have one or two cars, but are discouraged from using it because of traffic and parking problems,” he said.
If a car owner wants to go from Jayanagar to Rajajinagar and back, she can book DriveU services through the app.
“The driver will come on his two-wheeler, park at the customer’s place, and drive the customer to the destination,” Shastry said.
The app also also provides one-way services.
As for safety, drivers go through three levels of verification. “The first round is a police verification. For the second round, we use private detectives. We pay them money to check on the details of drivers who apply. We then do our own verification.”
Drivers also go through customer service orientation, after their driving skills are tested.
“Only if they pass all this will they get a uniform, a hat and a DriveU badge with a picture,” he said. The driver carries a seat cover with him, and is rated after every trip.
“If a driver gets five stars, he gets a bonus. If he goes below three stars, we let him go. Customer feedback is mandatory,” he explained.
Drivers working for 10-12 hours with DriveU make a minimum of `20,000 a month, he said.
Since all three founders are dog lovers and believe in social service, one per cent of the revenue goes to an animal charity.
Down the road, every employee will have a stake in the company, a practice common in the US, he said.
And for drivers?
The company is now focused on Bengaluru, where demand for freelance drivers is high. At any given point, 30 drivers are available, and they work 24 hours. DriveU says it helps to book an in advance.
“We hire women drivers but not at night, but that’s because we are concerned about their safety,” he said.
The company is working on insurance for any damage caused to the car while a trip is in progress. “We are in talks with several insurance companies,” he said.
The service has been live for eight weeks women use it more than men. “Driving is hard in Bengaluru, and a headache. A woman who is worried about her child or her elderly parents would rather focus on them than driving,” Shastry said.
Customers also use freelance drivers for work, and to travel to the airport.
“Our driver takes them to office and goes back again when called in the evening,” he said. That way, hiring a driver is cheaper, and owners don’t pay a full wage and keep drivers idling through the day.