‘Taxis are expensive’, ‘You have to haggle a lot’, ‘We do not feel secure’, ‘Taxi drivers are cheaters’, ‘We have no other option’ -- a lot of people must have felt this way while hauling for taxis in Kathmandu to reach our destinations. When we think of taxis, we are filled with a sense of unhappiness. But lately, a start-up, Saarthi, has been doing a great job toward giving quality taxi service, without cheating, to the people.
Saarthi is a venture started by two persons—Prakash Neupane and Ravi Singhal—who already had around a decade of experience in operating start-ups. Irrespective of being from IT and engineering backgrounds, the co-founders plunged into a completely new area of business. The duo took their sweet time to understand the market and started such a business that is slowly changing the perception of people towards the reliability of taxi booking system.
The company was registered in May 2016, but before that, the duo surveyed over 25,000 people comprising majorly of drivers, cab owners and customers (stakeholders). “The main purpose of our survey was to understand the status and the problem of this niche market. There was a lot of blame game going on and each of the stakeholders had their own sets of problems. We catered to each group separately and ensured to provide them what they needed through Saarthi. They complied and we officially went on the floors after 15 months of work from our end,” Singhal said, talking about the inception of Saarthi.
The extended length of preparation bore them the desired results. Both the co-founders believe in taking risks and love challenges, and that was why they started but the business boomed immensely. In just about eight months, Saarthi has already become a brand that people associate with values and accountability. “No company is built in a day. It takes clear vision, clear motives, and ample research for one to start as well as sacrifices and dedication of the team to sustain,” said Singhal.
Few of the traits that attracted more and more customers to Saarthi each day were its 24X7 availability, at-door services, only on-meter rides, assurance of secure, standard services. The riders are happy to get the extra and a consistent number of trips Saarthi had guaranteed them while the owners are happy with Saarthi taking the responsibility of all the legal hassles for them. As a mediator, Saarthi has managed to keep all the stakeholders happy with no compromise in their services.
Saarthi values its beliefs, ideologies and skills as the ultimate way of working so honest and ethical conduct by the drivers is a must. But even with so many policies, there have been few instances where people were found guilty of misconduct. Abiding by the rules, they no longer work with those found guilty.
Saarthi welcomes everyone and is willing to work with anyone who shares the same vision as theirs. They have a team of 25 young minds but the netizens also seem to be a part of their team. “Apart from the initial phase, we never felt the need to market the name. Customers with their social media posts with their ‘unconventional cab ride’ stories have vouched for Saarthi and we have never looked back,” Singhal shared.
Booking is very easy. A customer can book a cab through Saarthi’s hotline which is coordinated by its team and sends the nearest driver to the pick-up location to safely drop you to your destination. All cabs are connected to its central server where they track each and every pick-ups and drops. Now, one can even book cabs with Saarthi’s application, which they have recently launched.
Saarthi does not own a single taxi. But with over 100 cabs it is associated with, Saarthi makes on average 1,500 daily trips around the city. It has had an overwhelming response and booking, but to cater to every booking has not been possible with limited cabs. They are actually reverting the bookings unwillingly.
Apart from cabs, one can also book two-wheelers and travel within the Valley. So far, they have not served outside Kathmandu Valley but it is definitely one of its future plans, after a sustainable growth in and within Kathmandu. Their immediate concern is to meet the demand of its customers.