Sparse networks and commuting hubs

By September 4, 2013 Autos, Commuting No Comments
Pic courtesy sciencedirect.com

Pic courtesy sciencedirect.com

Most often we describe mGaadi as a commuter marketplace. A marketplace where sellers are auto rickshaw/taxi drivers and buyers are commuters. Any new marketplace has an added challenge (over non-marketplace consumer startups) of building two groups of stakeholders (buyers and sellers) in parallel. A commuter marketplace by definition has two additional dimensions to contend with – location and time.

Sprawling Bangalore is home to 8.5 million people and spread over an area of 2,190 sq. km. Even as we constrain the initial scope of our mission to only auto rickshaw commuting, we have our work cut out. Since we don’t have magicians on our team nor do we have astronomical resources, we can’t just “boil the commuting ocean.” We have been testing mGaadi in pilot mode for the past few months with a small network of auto rickshaws and commuters. Predictably, we ironed out a few bugs along the way but the main issue we’re grappling with is matching commuters and auto rickshaws at the right place at the right time.

Constraints are a beautiful thing for startups.

I mean it.

Constraints give a much-needed focus.

The way we are focusing mGaadi’s efforts is probably not terribly original but let me share it anyway.

Our customer enrollment efforts will largely spent in satisfying the needs of regular office-goer commuters. Even that is too broad a brush. So we are starting with a long list of commuting hubs (top office locations and residential districts) and whittling it down to a short list.

I hope you are wondering about our whittling down process because I’m going to tell you now. :)

Crowdsourcing.

We’ll continue recruiting commuters into our pilot but our sweet spot commuters are ones with deterministic and regular commuting patterns (e.g. “EGL to Koramangala between 5pm and 6pm every weekday” or “Dairy Circle to Meenakshi Temple around 7pm every Monday” or “Old Airport Road to Whitefield ITPL between 7 and 7:30am every weekday”).

Our driver enrollment efforts will be disproportionately focused around satisfying commuting demand around the short list of hubs. Once we start satisfying a majority of trip requests in the first set of commuting hubs, we would add the second set. And that’s how we hope to march. Hub after hub with expanding time windows until… (you get the drift).

This is the part where I get to ask “what can YOU do for us?”

If you match the profile of our sweet spot commuters, do signup pronto and our bots will quickly follow up with you. Do you have colleagues or friends who might be interested? What are you waiting for? Spread the love.

Thank you.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.