This is a perfect case to prove that nobody gains out of protests and strikes except your competitor. When driver partners of popular ride hailing companies Ola and Uber went for two intermittent strikes in Guwahati during 2016-17, young entrepreneurs Rahul Sharma (29) and Partha Saikia (37) saw an opportunity to kickstart their plan which was playing on their head for some time.
On July 3, the Assamese duo launched North East’s first app-based ride hailing app OGO in Guwahati that promises to change the mobility scene in the region forever. The pricing at Rs 5/kilometre is severely competitive and lower than what is being offered by the two existing players. This comes as a sigh of relief for most people in Guwahati who are fed up of the exorbitant rates charged by autorickshaws and surge pricing of the existing cabs.
Ola and Uber combined roughly has 12,000 cars in Guwahati and OGO has already been able to acquire 1,100 cars from them to their platform. “The OGO app has already seen good traction with a staggering 48,000 downloads in Guwahati in the last two months. OGO has so far completed more than 15,000 rides and we aim for a 20 per cent market share in Guwahati,” Rahul, co-founder, OGO said in an exclusive interview with The Startup Observer.
Inspired by the positive demand, in the next few months, the Guwahati-based startup plans to expand to other cities and towns in North East including Nagaon, Imphal, Dibrugarh, Agartala, and Jorhat. In the rest of India, it will expand to Dehradun and Chandigarh, where they see immense market potential.
Rahul and Partha are not to be mistaken as newbie entrepreneurs who have launched this on impulse. This isn’t their first venture either and they could turn out to be relatively more seasoned than you would have imagined. They have earlier started a company called Maverick IT during 2015-16 to drive the Assam election campaign. Simultaneously in May 2016, they started Awe Rides, a self-drive car and bike rental company that is currently operational in Chandigarh and Assam.
OGO is their third venture and they have plans to make it big. They are serious about solving the daily commute problems of the lakhs of people in the North-East region and in the process, generate employment too. As part of their future plans, they soon plan to integrate the Awe Rides and OGO apps so that customers can conveniently book a ride or rent a vehicle taking advantage of the cross-platform integration.
OGO cabs provides enough reasons for a typical customer to choose their platform over Ola and Uber. “First, we don’t have the concept of surge pricing. Second, we let our customers book a ride over the phone in addition to the app,” says Rahul. The ‘no-surge’ is a no brainer recipe for success. The phone booking facility is critical in a place like North East where internet connectivity is still limited compared to the large metro cities of India.
Although they operate in the same space, OGO isn’t directly competing with Ola and Uber. It’s focusing on smaller cities and towns where the two giants haven’t made inroads yet. Moreover, OGO’s core focus and differentiation is in the 2-wheeler ride market which is currently not offered by either Ola or Uber in the North East.
OGO currently runs in bootstrapped mode. “We intend to stay self-funded for some more time until we become stable and our processes are standardised,” Rahul says. At the same time, they realise the importance of funding for scaling up. “Once we are completely ready to scale up, then we would start seeking for funds. We have already got investment proposals from some really good investors,” Rahul signs off.