LAHORE: A fast developing start-up ecosystem has encouraged the launch of another mobile application in an attempt to tap the growing market.
Rixi, a mobile application, is meant to connect waiting passengers to rickshaw drivers and is rapidly gaining popularity among citizens looking for cheaper rides.
The app, another of its kind, helps commuters connect to rickshaw drivers, who roam around with watchful eyes and stare at every pedestrian as a potential customer.
“The concept behind the initiative was to create some kind of opportunity for people (like rickshaw drivers) who are not tech-savvy and cannot afford expensive mobiles,” Adnan Zafar Khawaja, founder and CEO of IdeaCentricity that launched the service, told The Express Tribune.
“We also won recognition earlier for coming up with low-cost handsets to help rickshaw drivers get connected with commuters. The best part about the app is that one does not need a smartphone to have this service enabled. It is an ‘SMS based application’, and can be accessed on low-cost handsets,” he added.
“The drivers get alerts via SMS or automated phone calls. The service has not covered the entire city of Lahore yet, but it is present in nearly all the populated localities.”
There is no precise data on the current number of rickshaws but, Khawaja says, the figure should be more than 0.2 million.
Launched in 2013, the company has successfully completed its pilot project and has recently started commercial operations. “Currently, we have 1,500 rickshaws registered with us and the number is increasing,” he said.
The start-up is targeting 8,000 rickshaws in the first year of its operations, and by the third year it hopes to touch 40,000.
The company gives three rides per day to rickshaw drivers via their service ‘Rixi; for the remainder of the day, they can hunt commuters on their own.
“This could be a useful service for us,” said a rickshaw driver. “The number of rickshaws in Lahore is increasing and each day we waste more than 60% of our time on roads waiting for commuters. This is appealing. At least we are guaranteed three commuters per day and without much negotiations.”
The company is charging 8% per transaction a month, but this could not be enough for them to meet their expenses or gain profits. Therefore, they have introduced another idea to generate funds using the same rickshaws.
“To support our impact model further, we have also introduced additional lines of income generation for the drivers through creative advertising on rickshaws as ‘Rixi Adz’, which provides live tracking reports to brands. We are also geared towards introducing a new fleet of Rixis and microfinance services too,” Khawaja said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2015.