BENGALURU: When the surge pricing by cab aggregators in the city hit the roof last December, so much so that Joe Matthews had to pay `3,500 for a ride to the airport, he decided to launch his own online car rental venture called ‘Hi Cabs’.
The former senior operations director at Ola cabs and Vice President at Meru cabs has been in the transportation industry for the past ten years, prior to which he worked as a banker in Dubai.
“I was a taxi driver when I was doing my degree in college,” he says. One of the reason why he understands the pain points in the transportation industry.
Hi Cabs is a new entrant to the car rental market that announced the launch of its services on Tuesday. The firm will provide services without any surcharges or cancellation fees. Joe who is aghast at the amount the customers pay during surge hours says, “How would you know whether a person is going out for a party in the evening (the usual timing of surge pricing) or he is going to the hospital?”
“I was working with Ola cabs when I saw people facing enormous amount of problems due to exorbitant pricing, which is nothing more than fleecing the customer. Taxi service is not a facility anymore, it is a utility, and that is our mission.”
Hi Cabs has been built on the aggregator model and the founders feel that aggregetion was the best way to go forward. Joe feels this is the primary reason why Meru cabs could not grow, because all the cabs were privately owned by the company.
The crux on which any car rental company can do well is if the drivers remain loyal. If drivers work for 20 hours there is bound to be desertions, fatigue and accidents.
Hi Cabs will be building houses for drivers and their familes, give them medical assistance and insurance and also create micro-financng oppurtunities for them.
“Our drivers are also our customers, we will have one relationship manager now for every 500 drivers for immediate resolution of any problems,” Joe said.
“What other operators have done is that, they have targeted the 18-45 age group, 50% of whom use smartphones, but we want to expand the booking platform and bring in SMS and also WhatsApp booking. We are targeting anybody without an app.
Cost per booking also increases with human intervention, we are bringing in more of technology to reduce the human cost,” he added.
Hi Cabs had a founder investment of `50 lakhs and have got approval for the first round of angel funding of `50 lakhs, which will be an individual fund.
The company understands the increasing carbon footprint that includes growing level of particulate matter in the air and wants to create more awareness about environmental sustainability.
It has partnered with Saytrees.org, an NGO in Bengaluru and will plant a tree for every 100 rides and targets a total of 2,50,000 trees in Karnataka in a span of 5 years.
“The first 5 years of caring will determine whether the trees will survive. So, we decided to partner with them on this quest for environmental sustainability,” Joe said.
The charges will be at Rs.6 per km and is free of surcharges and cancellation feees. Hi Cabs has 2000 cars and is targeting 10,000 by next year.
The Hi Cab app can be downloaded from Google play store. Currently operating in Bangalore, Hi Cabs plans to expand to other cities in the country.
Its director and founder, Joe Matthews tells us that, “We want to become the number one cab aggregator in this country. Competition from others in the market like Ola and Uber will remain but we will be bringing out more innovation in its features and service model that will lead to major transformation in the industry.”