Products / Services India Should Have – 7 Bike Taxis / Last Mile

Products / Services India Should Have – 7 Bike Taxis / Last Mile

Inspired by what i once saw in Bangkok, I thought motorcycles are a great upgrade to the cycle-rickshaws we have parked outside the metro stations in Delhi/Gurgaon for example. Back then, it was still a messy affair to attempt a transport startup, but now the market seems readier.

We definitely could do with lesser number of vehicles on the road, specially single person cars!

Having seen the role of public transport in my daily life in Berlin, it just seems the obvious choice, compared to driving a car daily.

Problem Statement

  • For several routes, the public transport will still remain more viable (time/money wise) compared to taking company or private cabs.
  • A user commuting to office in a metro / bus, still needs last mile connectivity for which he depends on the autos or cycle rickshaws.
  • This is often a solo ride, that ends up being the more expensive part of the commute.
  • For short distances(last mile, specially), unless their network becomes SUPER dense, an Ola or Uber driver would end up driving empty for 4 km to give a ride of 4 km.
  • More people will be happy to take public transport, if the last mile becomes frictionless

AND :

  • Bikes are cheaper to buy / run compared to cars and autos, contribute less to the traffic / pollution as well.
  • Faster and less tiring for the rider than cycle-rickshaws, meaning more trips / day.

So

  • Can’t we have an Uber / Ola for Bikes? Why use cars for short rides for a single person!
  • Maybe even have bikes / Activas driven by women for the women passengers
  • This biker can even flexibly work as a courier / delivery rider intermittently.
  • If he’s upgrading from a cycle rickshaw, likely this would boost his income meaningfully and he’d not wait outside apartments / markets through the day to get his share of rides.
  • Being Smartphone driven, it’s safer, always tracked, can enable wallet payments – killing issues with change / arbitrary pricing.

Products India Should Have – 6 – Lybrate meets the Corner Pharmacy

If I was writing this a while ago, I wouldn’t have known about Lybrate -the startup allowing video chats with doctors. Makes every bit of sense. Not every issue or follow up needs me to skip office, take a long  trip, wait in queue for a 5 minute consultation with the doctor.

Can this go a notch further, to be useful for people without smartphones or 3G? How? Take tele-medicine to the next level.A track worth testing / validating :

  • Setup a the yellow phone-booth style kiosk within or right next to pharma stores.
  • Deploy a wifi / 3G connected tablet in there with the medical video chat app
  • At any time, there’d be some doctor in each specialization online in the app to consult.
  • Can have pre-defined appointment schedules for select doctors pasted on the wall.
  • IF relevant, use a stethoscope with an AUX input into the tablet, (with or without assistance, as needed)
  • The doctor can write the prescription on his tablet or via the smart pens, to transmit to the pharmacy who can dispense the relevant medication / take a print-out if needed by law.
  • The history these video calls and time-stamped prescriptions can be recorded and kept in the user’s a/c against a verified mobile number
  • User can rate the doctor on the quality of session, ratings kept only in the background / shown aggregated after a level.
  • User can pay in advance / after consultation via cash or card at the pharmacy.
  • Application tracks the payment received by pharmacy and due for each doctor, all accounts settled online.
  • This is additional revenue for the pharmacy, can get a share of the consultancy fee + all the revenue for medicine sales from the prescriptions.
  • All sorts of MIS / Intelligence can be built on top of the data collected.

This could work well to utilize the spare time of doctors in high doctor density areas who don’t have a full schedule and be used to make high quality service available to patients. This could also extend to wider cases of tele-medicine, setting these ‘kiosks’ up in remote areas with no access to a doctor.

in several cases, for blue collar workers, they need to take the day off, losing pay, if someone in the family is not well and needs to see a doctor – wait for several minutes, and then just see the doctor for 5 minutes, who would often prescribe a standard medicine.

Products India Should Have – 5- TennisBuddy

There’s a lot being done for matchmaking in the romantic context, there’s just about no efficient of discovering people who share your interests for an activity – in a local / real time / social context.

I was hoping Meetup would move effectively in this direction, but they don’t seem to care so much about spontaneous / mobile-first real time social/location approach or leverage the current social network of the user. Communities like Couchsurfing and internations enable these meetups – but nothing spontaneous / sharp on current location or time.

So here’s how this would work.

  • I connect my Facebook to the App
  • I name an activity, setup a time and venue – structured inputs to appear on a calendar as well as a map.
    • Say a game of squash at Saket Sports Club at 8 AM on Sunday 20th Sept.
  • Share this on my social network if I want to.
  • People within the geography who have played squash before / have the squash in their profile tags get an alert for the activity.
  • They can express interest in joining. (or directly join – need to test trust levels amidst friends of friends versus complete strangers)
  • I confirm one/more of the interested folks and this makes an entry into all our calendars, with set reminders etc.
  • Ensure mobile /email ID verification, show users count of FB friends and my connection to them – making it easier to trust.
  • Recommend that first meeting happens at a public place if it’s between strangers.
  • We meet and play squash. Or watch a movie or go photographing the street or volunteer at a local NGO.

Users can create activities / explore current activities around them. So if I wake up on a Saturday morning and thought about what I wanted to do later today, this is the place where I can find what people are upto and join something I find interesting and closeby.

Of course, this needs network effects to get meaningful and have the right number of activities being posted / executed.

Products/Services India Should Have – 4 : Link Up

Linkedin has become the default online CV for everyone – they’ve pushed me into completing my profile, make it easy for me to endorse people’s skills, make recommendations etc. I can be a premium user to send out more in-mails or connect with people who have no common link with me or look for jobs. But it doesn’t do much for me in real time / physical location while it could lead into so many serendipitous conversations.

I’m unlikely to walk up to random people at the airport asking them what they do and make a conversation, but if i know they’re doing something that’s of interest, and are open to talk to me – makes the ice breaking much easier.

Something I believe has massive potential – call it real time location based business networking. Here’s how this would work:

  • I launch the app, connect my linkedin account to the application
  • App pulls my current designation, company, industry, education. Indexed for structured filters and fuzzy search
  • I give the app access to my current location.
  • I choose a venue / event I’m present at, if indoors, or just get connected via my latitude-longitude outdoors (like a Check-in).
  • I see all the other people who’re also there, in a list, sorted by level of relevance for me, filtered by maximum distance of 300m.
  • I see their pictures, linkedin profiles, can further filter by company / industry / education etc.
  • I can send a first message to any other user in the system that’s at the same venue.
  • The other person sees my profile, choose to respond via chat or ignore my message
  • We can talk and setup a location and time to meet – walk up to the coffee counter! Stored this into both users’ calendars for reminders.
  • Users can super easily exchange numbers and write notes for each person they meet.

Use cases include airports waiting areas / lounges, hotel lobbies and most importantly – trade fairs and conferences. There are event management apps like DoubleDutch and Bizzabo – but these depend on the event organizers to ‘use’ this app and are only applicable during the event.

Somehow, it seems online / mobile needs to help enable better offline connections. To talk to someone in person, is so much more meaningful as well as fun, compared to sending them a linkedin in-mail and carry on with a long drawn email conversation.

The Intelligence beneath the hood

  • Use matchmaking algorithms to show me people that are the most relevant for me and likely to respond to me.
  • Run a back-ground algo to find and tag suppliers / potential customers / partners / competitors.
  • I can be invisible, so I can reach out, but no one can reach out to me.
  • Track people who’re sending out too many requests / enable thresholds.
  • At events / speaker sessions, Identify people who’re most in demand – local celebs of sorts and help them make the most of their time by making highly relevant connections of people they would be interested in. These people are generally hogged by the crowd of salesy folks – often not really meeting everyone they SHOULD meet.
  • Users who get ignored too often need to be handled as pushy sellers.

Getting to Critical Mass ?

  • This needs the right seeding to start being meaningful and get to a critical mass
  • Partner with event management companies to
    • Get the visitor directories / business cards of all participants in a conference, scan their biz cards and send them an SMS alert while at the venue
    • Place the app links and event code on the websites
    • Send out emails to attendees who’ve registered
    • Use standees at event venues to get the first people to install
    • Get the speakers to the the app on, for people to reach out to them.
  • Direct initial users to allow users to import contacts – from linkedin/phonebook
    • We’ve all imported contacts to linkedin/facebook / several random social networks – without any direct incentive.
    • If people see value, they’ll tell more people
  • Advertise on all the event portals, retargeting all app users / website visitors of these events
  • Advertise via the Airport Wifi.
  • Use Cost per install networks focusing on specific geographies to get the initial mass going.

Can talk more about the cost per install, retention rates, engagement and other growth metrics to track for this app and some pointers on growth hacking this – you gotta buy me a coffee for that 🙂

And how would it make money – we’ll figure out when we have a million chats happening per day!

By the way – I have’nt seen a similar service elsewhere in the world either yet. So.. if you have the techie and the enthu, get rolling.  I assure you funding within months of releasing the app if you do a good job on the UX.

Products / Services India Should Have – 3 : Jobs on Mobile

I wonder why someone has not yet attempted a full UX makeover of the recruitment process. The giant portals are good for large recruiters with armies of HR folks, but for smaller companies, it’s far from an efficient experience.

A tinder for Jobs already exists in Switch, but there’s so much more to the whole recruitment process from start to end.

  • To Signup, connect linkedin to extract profile, collect tags and keywords and index education / experience, references information for tag and structured searches / filters / recommendation engine to work.
  • Ask for current salary for applicants and range for recruiters. No point matching if the payscale doesn’t match.
  • Verify company email IDs and don’t show my profile to my co-workers :).
  • Let candidate rate himself on a scale of 10 for key skills needed for the job. The recruiter can define these.
    • He can add a video of his answers to a few preset questions for that job profile.
  • Let me swipe left / right for candidates based on profile summary. Right swipe adds to shortlist
    • The candidate can swipe through roles as well.
  • For my shortlist / any candidate, I can see more details, including video’ answers to standard interview questions.
    • Again, the candidate can see more details about the job, hiring manager etc.
  • Let me send a conversation request to the candidate with a proposed schedule.
  • App connects with google / outlook calendar to find free slots for a scheduled conversation. I can propose a phone call / video call / meeting with schedule / venue.
  • At the end of the conversation, I’ll rate the candidate on the skills that I cared about. Plus add some summary notes and decide for an ‘Offer‘ ; ‘Next Round‘ ; Hold or Reject
  • Placement agencies can send me candidate profiles via in-app messages that get added to my ‘New Candidates for a role’ that I can swipe left / right. Same for all ‘inbound’ applications or referrals for that specific role.
  • When I choose to ‘offer’ it would trigger a communication to the HR who can be on the app too, and share a predefined offer letter with specific numbers plugged in.

Over a period, intelligence can be built into the product to :

  • Understand a candidate’s frequency of app usage to guess how eager he is to switch.
  • Build history for a user who misses appointments too frequently or doesn’t show up for the interview or join after accepting the offer or is found with fake information in the app.
  • Connect with a permanent ID like a passport number or Aadhar Card – so the user’s entire job search history is built within the app.
  • Alert user on the right opportunities that match his profile – at a very specific level and not ‘1000 companies looking for PHP programmers’
  • Smart matching engine to automatically recommend jobs to candidates and vice versa – without endless searches.
  • NEVER again show me a candidate I’ve swiped left. It’s a waste of time!
    • Or a job that’s out of my paygrade!
  • Some people will always get swiped left – should be given feedback about improving their profile – recommend courses.
  • Consultants who send too many irrelevant profiles that are getting left swipe would get down-rated
  • Index keywords searched by companies to show tag-clouds / maps of hot competencies in demand.

And so on. Ultimately, make the whole process super efficient against dozens of CV attachment in mails, excel sheet scores, email back and forth to set up meetings that suit the schedules.

Oh and this is usable by anyone over an Android phone. I can help my maid and driver create a profile and be discovered and called up.

Hope someone gets this started! I wonder if I’ve gone impractically imaginative – wonder if recruiters or candidates can point out critical flaws in the concept.

Edit : Samarth pointed me to TheSuperApp that’s going in this direction. Hope they go far! Need to crack the network effects to get somewhere. Maybe I’ll write about how to growth hack this next.

Services India should Have – 2 – Unlocking the million empty houses!

Wonder if it’s just me or there’s more people wanting an asset light life in a sharing economy – I don’t want to buy a house, furniture, car.. anything! As long as I’m able to use it whenever I want, I’d be happy.

I read that we have a million un-used houses in Urban India

And that we have a shortage of a 100k hotel rooms

Airbnb shows just about 200 Entire Houses available in a two month range in Delhi.

Roomorama shows just 60 serviced apartments for 2 month rental in Mumbai, costs starting from 50 Euros / day.

Rentomojo is willing to rent decent furniture for Rs. 2000-3000 per month. Capital intensive, but workable model.

And you have products like Remotelock which can let you control access without physical keys being handed around.

A search for property managers doesn’t throw up a large organized player.

Alright, so can you make an asset light model to unlock some value here?

  • Take the empty house from the owner on a revenue share basis. Any revenue is better than empty house, specially since the owner has to do nothing here.
  • Get it furnished by Rentomojo – include a dishwasher. Or find an ikea type company that’s super innovative with doing interiors / furniture at scale – REALLY making good use of the space.
  • Install Remotelocks.
  • Setup the house as a property listed across vacation / serviced apartment rental spaces.
  • Guest books / pays advance and gets a password to access the house.
  • Password changes at check-out, reissued to next guest.
  • Include Safe-boxes, for any precious items the customer wants to keep.
  • A house keeping agency is alerted after every check-out or to clean up the apartment, or just does it every day for longer stays.
  • All worthwhile items in the house are on inventory list that’s checked by the housekeeping supervisor / property manager every week.

The Problems

  • Some stealth / damage of house furniture/items.
    • Estimate in the cost of doing business.
    • Since you have full access logs of the apartment, both ends can be investigated if there’s something big.
    • Pay the apartment security guy a fee / month to keep his eyes open.
    • Apartment CC cameras would capture if something big is being taken out. Spoons / Towels – live with it.
  • Security / Permissions – Residential apartments may not want people to run guest houses in the apartments.
    • Check desired security protocols and pay the RWA their fees.
  • Taking a Passport Copy while checking-in is compulsory for any hotel / stay.
    • Building Security Guard can click a picture of the passport when this guest arrives and uploads into system. Give him the smartphone / app
    • Or put a connected camera at the apartment entrance, triggered at password entry.
    • A user once verified may be exempted from doing this again and again across his bookings if he’s using the same account / mobile number that’s verified.
    • Should figure a way to connect with banks / telcos for the KYC logs of the users.

At 1000-1500 / day with 50% occupancy, each empty house still earns 20-30k / month. Fancier houses bill higher. Monthly or longer term bookings come cheaper, almost close to the long term rental rates of the house in the area.

You can always apply smart algorithms to revise pricing and enable efficient short term rentals to stay attractive and get higher occupancy rates.

10,000 houses x 20,000 / month = 240 Cr / year rather conservatively.

Fundamental question – do the house-owners care about the additional income -given that they bought it for investment purposes, quite possibly with cash. I’d say at least 10% of them wouldn’t mind, if given confidence of seamless experience. that’s a hundred thousand houses.

Potential users would include

Bachelors / DINKs / Expats on mid-term assignments / Consultants in client city –

Companies could use these as guest houses, paying only on use and no fixed monthly costs.

Someone’s gotta do it. Hope they do it soon.

Services that India should have – 1 : The Creche!

With the million ideas that keep coming to mind all the time, thought it’ll make sense to put them down somewhere. When someone ends up doing it, I’ll feel happy that the idea made sense and sad – coz I didn’t  do it!

This one’s an easy use case. Working couples, protective parents – want good care and safe handling for the child, but for many reasons, can’t compromise careers either. Always concerned about maids – putting CC cameras at home – taking days off, when the maid’s absent. And getting psyched out when looking at the many maid horror stories.

Problem Statement : I need a good quality, trustable creche that’s convenient.

Search for Daycare centers in Mumbai and you see 450 services – they’re not standardized / certified / branded – so as a user, I have no real way to trust. Not mapped out, to judge location, have limited ratings, not 100% credible and they’ll all struggle to ensure capacity utilization, maintain websites, let alone develop smartphone apps or take real time requests.

So, to set up the whole thing greenfield :

  • Rent a flat in high residential / office density apartments
  • Baby-proof the house for toddlers upto 3 years. ( have a different space for kids between 3-6 years)
  • Find grannies / stay-at-home moms with local families who would be OK to spend the day here as supervisors
  • Hire professional nannies – who can cook, clean / feed the babies – starting 3-6 months old.
  • All individuals have thorough verification on antecedents and pictures available on the site/app.
  • Install CC Cameras across the house with live web feed.
  • Setup a fixed location tablet in the house for anytime video call with any child.
  • Setup daily schedules for the kids to eat, sleep, listen to stories, play games.
  • Setup Emergency contacts for each location with nearby hospital / ambulance services
  • Enable an online rating / reviews system with FB connect. Any negative feedback to be taken very seriously.
  • Live CC camera feed on web and mobile – for the parents to see the kids any time.
  • The granny can pick up / drop kids using an Ola / Uber – daily before and after hours, or parents can drop them.
  • Max 10 kids per location, with at least 1 granny + 1 nanny.
  • For 10 kids, at 10k each, this is 100k per location per month. Most parents pay that much to a full day maid / get paid way more in their own jobs. It’s worth the career continuity and the peace of mind.
    • 30k rent, 30k salaries, 10k consumables/bills. That’s 30k / month margin.
    • 2-3L of upfront investment in babyproofing / cameras / toys
  • Allow Hourly services also for Rs. 100 / hr. If the parents have to go somewhere, they can safely drop the child at the center and be assured that it’ll be well taken care of.
    • Have a smartphone app that shows you location, availability, ratings etc. of the nearest creche from anywhere.
  • Enable school or bus stop pick-up service too, for a price.
    • Include easy messaging to the parent when the child has been picked up, fed.

In Germany, the government pays for this kind of service. Very plausible that some companies offer this service to working fathers/mothers – as a employee engagement initiative. Littlecompany folks have already got corporate endorsement, but are rather small right now.

Once the brand / experience is established, you can work to standardize and brand the existing creches on the above model and get them online – as a marketplace of sorts. As my friend Maninder would like to put it, make it an Oyo of Creches 🙂

It could run via a franchise type route where the granny / supervisor becomes the investor-manager for each location. Much better margin. She could use her own car for the pick-ups.

10,000 kids in Mumbai whose parents will happily pay 10,000 / month fee = 120 Cr / year with a healthy margin from Mumbai alone. If this brings back 10,000 new moms back into the workforce faster – that’s good for the world.

So who’s starting this?