Our Amazing Journey!
From Zero to a Million
“The Little Engine That Could” is a popular American fairy tale. The story is used to teach children the power of optimism and hard work. To me, this story aptly describes the DriveU journey. To grow rapidly, we never raised a boatload of money to splurge on customer discounts and driver incentives. Like it happened in the story, we worked sensibly and shrewdly within our budget to get to where we are today.
“I think I can”
There is a popular catchphrase in that story “I think I can”. That phrase pretty much reflects the ethos of the amazing team here at DriveU — optimistic, creative, indefatigable. As we cross the 1 Million trip mark today, it gives me an opportunity and pleasure to not only celebrate, but to reflect and thank those who made it possible.
DriveU is a deep-tech and an operationally innovative start-up based in Bengaluru, India. Founded in 2015, we offer on-demand drivers to car owners in seven of the largest Indian metros. A variation from prevailing cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola, our app-based service summons background-verified, uniformed drivers who drive the customer’s car. A service such as DriveU is particularly useful in developing countries such as India, with rising middle-class affluence and personal car ownership — and in an environment where transport infrastructure is stressed, resulting in seemingly permanent gridlock. With the availability of plenty of reasonably priced labour pool, hiring a driver is affordable to a vast swath of the population here.
One had to book a driver on the phone — typically a day before you need it. The driver was more than likely unkempt and likely not background-verified.
Prior to DriveU, driver service was an unorganized market with local companies. One had to book a driver on the phone — typically a day before you need it. The driver was more than likely unkempt and likely not background-verified. The charges were for a set duration, irrespective of the time one used the service. And, one had to pay cash for the service rendered. Our innovations include (a) an on-demand, app-based service, (b) background verified & uniformed drivers, and (c )a pay-as-you-go, transparent pricing model. Today, our team’s deep technical, operational and marketing excellence has built a moat around DriveU. Several competitors emerged, but none have survived. Today, we are the only nationally recognized driver service in India.
Today, a typical full-time DriveU driver earns around Rs 25,000 per month; some in excess of Rs 50,000. Their earnings rival that of Uber and Ola drivers
Many thousands of drivers across India depend on DriveU for their family’s livelihood. In order to ensure that the drivers earn a fair, living wage, from the get-go we charged a reasonable fare to our customers. Today, a typical full-time DriveU driver earns around Rs 25,000 per month; some in excess of Rs 50,000. Their earnings rival that of Uber and Ola drivers — without the aggravation of owning and operating a cab for 15+ hours a day. Our customers appreciate the quality of service we offer and don’t mind paying a small premium to get a well-groomed & behaved, background-verified, uniformed driver. Consequently, our customer satisfaction measured as Net Promoter Score (NPS) is at an industry high of 48.
Driver Partners trust our automated payment system which reconciles and pays them everyday for the service rendered the previous day.
Key learnings from our experience thus far:
1. We strived to maintain positive unit economics from the get-go and yet grew at a decent clip. Ours was a relentless pursuit to provide a high-quality service.
2. If one acquires customers at a deeply discounted fare, eventually when the business is forced to charge sustainable fares, a significant segment of the customers leaves the platform. We never fell into that trap.
3. Our drivers are treated as professionals with dignity and respect. They trust our automated payment system which reconciles and pays drivers every day for the service rendered the previous day. Consequently, our driver retention rates are high. In return, the drivers treat our customers well which include major celebrities, movie stars and politicians around the country.
4. Deep technical and operational excellence coupled with a relentless focus on customer satisfaction has built a formidable moat around DriveU. We invested heavily in intelligent data analysis to increase customer satisfaction & retention.
5. Folks prefer to associate with brands that have a better societal perception and redeeming value. DriveU is well known for its commitment to rescuing stray dogs and have donated to such causes over the years. DriveU is a pet-friendly office and many of our customers applaud and support our efforts. What is good for society is good for business.
On behalf of the management team, I would like to thank each one of our valued employees, driver partners, customers and investors for putting their faith in us.
We had a dream and you all made it possible - Thank you!