Commutation is one of the most fundamental process we indulge in, every day, 365 days a year. Today, we have lots of modes of commuting – cars, buses, bicycles, pedestrian and much more. And with the advent of startups in every sector, this too has seen the rise of companies. We have cab booking services, bus booking services and lot more. Opportunities are getting created day in and day out. There are cab companies like Uber globally, and we have Ola, which is a popular app-based cab service in India but Jugnoo’s story is not exactly same.
In India, one of the biggest modes of commutation is…. Any guesses??
People commute through auto-rickshaws (popularized as “autos”) countless number of times. Yet, there are times when people are not able to find one easily. With app-based services rising in India, tapping into this network held huge potential.
That’s where Jugnoo buzzed in.
Starting in November 2014, the idea started shaping into a company. The co-founders were a duo of Samar Singla and Chinmay Agarwal. Both of them are alumni of one of the most prestigious colleges in India, IIT-Delhi. From idea generation to starting the company, Jugnoo started buzzing in the startup world. Soon it was ready to spread its wings and light the startup horizon, marking their entry.
Following is a conversation with the “Jugnoos” about their journey. Here’s what Jugnoo’s story is.
The name Jugnoo sounds pretty interesting. We’d love to hear more about how you landed on such a cool name.
Jugnoo evokes nostalgia and happy memories. The word ‘Jugnoo’ means a firefly and has a feeling of fascination and curiosity attached to it. When people see an auto with a Jugnoo sticker, it becomes easier for them to remember Jugnoo. The name, thus, has a recall value.
Tell us more about Jugnoo.
Auto-rickshaws are the predominant mode of public transportation for daily conveyance in India. They are inexpensive and also easy to move through crowded streets. Yet, it has been a highly underutilized space due to various factors like price, route etc. Jugnoo began in November 2014 with a vision to combat these roadblocks. The idea was to bring structure into this space by aggregating “autos” via technology. As a result, the whole process of taking a ride got more transparent and convenient for the driver and user.Jugnoo is currently present in 40 cities across India. It has over 12,000 autos empaneled under the brand. With a user base of around 4 million, the company handles about 40,000 transactions each day.
What does a day at Jugnoo look like?
Being a startup, we come across new challenges every day. A day at Jugnoo has lots of brainstorming sessions and team discussions. Constant exploration is done in new dimensions of technology, market, and innovation. This helps in scaling up the operations. There are days that are totally crazy and insane but that’s what keeps the excitement going on.
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey- the ups, the downs, the challenges?
It has been an interesting journey. Although, majority of the auto-rickshaw drivers already own and use a smartphone. Yet, in the beginning, there was reluctance towards adopting an app for livelihood. Jugnoo’s founders themselves traveled in the autos, speaking personally to the drivers. They kept trying to convince them. They were making them understand the advantages of integrating technology in their routine activities.
To increase the awareness of the platform, the app was launched at PECFEST, Chandigarh. People were given free rides in Chandigarh. And the response that was recorded was phenomenal. It gave us the initial kick, to begin with.
You guys did an awesome job with funding. We’d love to hear more about how you went about it. What were the opportunities, the challenges, the roadblocks that you faced in the process? What would be your guru mantra that you’d like to give to budding entrepreneurs for funding?
So, the guru mantra would be to not hesitate and keep reaching out. A lot of people will say ‘No’ to you, but you shouldn’t get demotivated. This is a process that requires a lot of follow ups and you need a dedicated person to do this job. A lot of market research goes into this and you need to be as extensive as possible.
Given a chance to reach out to all the entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs out there, what will you tell them?
A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them. Dreams come true when you have a plan. But that’s not enough. You need to have the sharp focus and the strength to overcome all challenges. Last but not the least, an equally enthusiastic team to work with is a critical factor in the success story. There is no substitute for hard work and persistence. And at the end you need no explanation, your work itself speaks for you.
I personally find it interesting, and helpful… What about you?
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P.S. It’s present in the lands of India.