With B2B clients like Cars24 and Zoomcar, this on-demand driver service startup is targeting Rs …

“The driver centres were not big on customer experience, could not be scaled and made little or no use of common-place technology – smartphones …

The last couple of years have seen a surge of on-demand services. Food, ecommerce, delivery of goods, transportation, and services, almost every activity has taken the on-demand route. So why not make drivers and chauffeur available on demand?

Computer science engineers Rajarshi Nag (22) and Paramarthe Saha (23) gave up on their campus placements to take the entrepreneurial plunge and solve the problem of on-demand professional driver service. Drivers4Me was incorporated to address the need for reliable, professional and standard on-demand drivers.

The Kolkata-based startup was founded in December 2018 and is recognised by Startup India (DPIIT) and Startup Bengal.

Drivers4Me

Illustration courtesy: YourStory

On-demand driver services

“Transport systems have become an indispensable facet of our lives, so much so that efficiency and reliability are a must-have combination in such systems,” Rajarshi tells YourStory.

This led him and Paramarthe to explore the existing system of car driver hiring. On interacting with local driver centres in Kolkata, the founders realised that the system was flawed in terms of reliability and professionalism, and did not have a standard pricing model. 

“The driver centres were not big on customer experience, could not be scaled and made little or no use of common-place technology – smartphones and the internet,” Rajarshi says.

Booking a driver with local centres was a tedious task – one had to make several phone calls before confirming a booking and to get the best deals.

Drivers4Me

Core team at Drivers4Me

The founders decided to bet on cheap internet data and increasing smartphone usage to digitise on-demand driver services. Rajarshi and Paramarthe flagged off their venture in South Kolkata, where the head office is located. The proof of concept began in mid-2017. By the end of 2018, it had launched its B2B services and crossed 5,000 trips. 

Co-founder and CEO Rajarshi leads Business and Marketing, while Paramartha, the COO, is responsible for app design and operations. The founding team also includes Prachator Mitra (23), Ronit Ray (25), and Rajarshi Basu (23). Their college friend Hillol Barman was a former founding member. Besides this, the team has another nine key employees.

How does it work?

Drivers4Me offers both B2B and B2C solutions. Individuals or businesses that own a car, can request for the services of a driver either through the startup’s mobile app or website. Once the booking is raised, the closest and most suitable drivers are matched with the trip, and the user is notified of the allotment.

After the driver arrives at the user’s address, the trip begins. Throughout, the user has access to the driver’s vital information, and they can track in real-time. Once the trip ends, payments can be made in cash or through auto-deduction from the startup’s online wallet system – D4M Credits.

The startup uses technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to make the process more efficient.

Drivers4Me has a pool of more than 900 full-time and part-time drivers. “All the drivers go through rigorous background verifications before being listed on the platform,” Rajarshi says.

Drivers4Me

Driver partner with Drivers4Me | Image Source: Drivers4Me

The startup also provides insurance and feedback to its driver-partners. Drivers4Me has tied up with insurance company Acko for the customer, driver, and car accident/ damage coverage.

It extends its services to provide package-based bookings for regular trips, monthly trips and service contracts for business clients.

“In the B2B space, we provide a web-based panel that allows affiliates to track and maintain data for all trips, including documents and pictures of cars. For business customers, we take responsibility for all of the logistics, which simplifies the process at their end,” Rajarshi explains.

Dynamic revenue model

Drivers4Me targets individual customers with cars, car rental services, hotels, and corporates.

It claims that its pricing model is competitive with offline solutions. “We employ AI and ML models to generate dynamic fare rates for our trips, making our pricing very reasonable without compromising on either party,” Rajarshi explains.

For B2C clients, Drivers4Me charges a dynamically calculated fee. A typical four-hour trip within the city can cost around Rs 250. A one-day outstation trip is priced roughly at Rs. 1,200. The customer can view the exact estimate before booking the trip.

For B2B, trips are charged either on an hourly, trip, or monthly basis. Typically, there are extra charges for night or outstation trips. “We deliver cars to different cities, which are charged on a per-trip basis,” Rajarshi explains.

On the drivers’ front, the startup charges a portion of the B2C trip fare as commission from the part-time drivers. Full-time drivers are usually engaged in B2B trips and receive a fixed monthly salary, besides other allowances. For B2B trips, the delta between the mean amount paid to the driver and the actual earnings for the startup is around 30 percent.

Expanding horizons

Focusing initially in Kolkata, Drivers4Me provides services to a couple of B2B clients in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad as well.

Its first B2B client was Cars24. Gradually, Drivers4Me extended its services to bigger players including Zoomcar, Revv, ITC, JW Marriott, Orix, and SBI, among others. It now has over 20,000 customers.

“We have completed 80,000 trips so far and our app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times,” Rajarshi says.

Keeping seasonal variations aside, the startup’s revenue doubles every quarter. Its current annual run rate (ARR) is Rs 2.5 crore. Drivers4Me generated profits (EBIDTA) of Rs 6.2 lakh in FY20. The startup is targeting Rs 8.23 crore next year, and Rs 204 crore by FY23.

Bootstrapped with Rs 1.5 lakh, Drivers4Me plans to raise its pre-Series A round of investment in FY22.

On-demand service market

Drivers4Me’s use case scales as the automobile and transportation industry grows. “Our market comprises over 3.6 crore registered motor vehicles across India, with 16 percent of the volume concentrated in 12 key cities (according to Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India, as on 2016-17),” says Rajarshi.

The startup directly competes with DriveU, traditional offline driver centres, cab-services such as Ola and Uber, and other players such as Saaarthi, WhistleDrive, and Hire4Drive.

However, Rajarshi believes that Drivers4Me has a USP. “We provide verified, trained professional drivers through an intuitive easy-to-use app or web-based platform with real-time tracking at reasonable rates,” he says.

Drivers4Me expects its business to grow rapidly in the next five to 10 years. Given the growth, it is expecting to add around 5,000 drivers by the end of next year.

Going ahead, Drivers4Me aims to establish B2C services in Delhi. Eventually, the startup plans to become a one-stop app solution for all transportation and car-related problems.

“We have also thought of integrating more services into our app such as shuttle, carpooling, cab service, car servicing, car documents management, among others,” Rajarshi quips.

Lyft continues healthcare push with Epic EHR integration

… Jason Swoboda, Tampa General’s associate director of health innovation and emerging technology, in a statement. The new program integrates Lyft …

Lyft on Thursday announced an integration with Epic Systems Corp.’s electronic health record system, marking the ride-sharing company’s latest step into healthcare.

Through the new program, staff at participating hospitals will be able to use a patient’s medical record to order Lyft rides if they need help traveling to or from non-emergency medical appointments.

Lyft already has an integration with Allscripts, and the company’s main competitor, Uber, last year brought its services into Cerner Corp.’s EHR. The newest program—Epic’s first integration with a ride-sharing company—takes EHR integration a step further, according to Lyft officials, as the two companies are working together to provide scheduling services and measure patient outcomes.

Lyft and Epic are working to develop a capability for health systems to run reports that measure how patients’ use of Lyft rides affects population health and costs, as well as to identify patients who would benefit from Lyft’s non-emergency medical transportation services.

That could help the company solidify research on whether its services improve health outcomes and reduce no-show rates, as early research has been mixed. One pilot program at a Minneapolis internal medicine clinic found using Lyft for non-emergency medical transportation reduced the clinic’s no-show rate by 27% and increased revenue by $270,000.

Ochsner Health in New Orleans and Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital, which already work with Lyft, have committed to using the new program.

Integrating Lyft’s services into Epic’s EHR will “speed up the process to order a Lyft and reduce keyboard time for our team members,” said Jason Swoboda, Tampa General’s associate director of health innovation and emerging technology, in a statement.

The new program integrates Lyft Concierge, a tool Lyft rolled out in 2018 to make it easier for organizations to schedule rides for customers and employees, directly into Epic’s EHR. To order a ride on behalf of someone else, staff input a passenger’s name, phone number, and pick-up and drop-off locations; the passenger then receives a text message that they can use to request a ride.

Lyft in its announcement described the program, dubbed “Lyft for Epic,” as another investment into the company’s “healthcare product suite.”

Lyft and Uber have been pushing into healthcare for the past several years, initially focusing on providing patients rides to non-emergency medical appointments.

Both companies offer covered rides to Medicaid beneficiaries in some states and boast major partnerships with non-emergency medical transportation providers, health insurers and EHR companies. Uber in August took its first step into the prescription delivery market, launching a pilot in Seattle and Dallas.

Uber, Lyft granted reprieve just hours before shutdown in California

During Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway’s Pivot Schooled Podcast, Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi lamented the prospect of hiring 50 …

Earlier this month, Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer told CNBC, “If our efforts here are not successful, it would force us to suspend operations in California“. By requiring them to be classified as employees, it takes away some of the freedom that comes with working in the gig economy.

Prior to the August 20 appeal ruling, the court found that both Lyft and Uber were in violation of AB 5, which regulates how employees and independent contractors are classified. However, yesterday, an appeals court granted the companies a temporary reprieve and the companies say they will stay on the roads – for now.

President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign is using the ongoing legal battle between Uber and Lyft over California’s gig economy law to attack Joe Biden and Sen.

“If we had to overhaul our business model, riders would nearly certainly experience dramatic changes too – prices would go up, wait times would increase, and service would not be available in many areas”.

During Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway’s Pivot Schooled Podcast, Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi lamented the prospect of hiring 50 000 drivers overnight.

Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) is down 8.1% and plumbing session lows as it elects to suspend operations in California at 11:59 tonight – with an injunction set to go into effect requiring it to reclassify its drivers as employees.

As many as 100,000 California drivers would have had to stop driving if Uber and Lyft had followed through on their threat to suspend operations, Courthouse News reports. That ruling doesn’t affect Uber’s growing Eats business, so regardless of what happens with the case, Uber will continue delivering food. In June, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed a lawsuit against DoorDash over worker classification. “We’ve spent hundreds of hours meeting with policymakers and labor leaders to craft an alternative proposal for drivers that includes a minimum earnings guarantee, mileage reimbursement, a health care subsidy, and occupational accident insurance, without the negative consequences”.

Harris announced her support for the bill in 2019 during her presidential campaign and Biden has explicitly called on California voters to reject a ballot initiative this year that would exempt Uber and Lyft from the law.

If the court decides to uphold the preliminary injunction and the ballot measure fails to pass in November, the companies should be ready to comply with the preliminary injunction within 30 days, the order states. It isn’t clear whether Uber or Lyft will change their plans to shut down in California, but the emergency stay could prompt them to continue operating.

Update at 2:45 PM ET: Both names have turned higher now, Lyft up 2%, and Uber up 3%.

Driving companies affected by Boone County’s alcohol restrictions

COLUMBIA – One would think Uber and Lyft drivers’ pockets would hurt a little bit …

COLUMBIA – One would think Uber and Lyft drivers’ pockets would hurt a little bit from Boone County’s alcohol restrictions, but some drivers said their rates have actually increased.

Meanwhile, some taxi companies are hurting.

The Boone County Public Health Department placed an order the requires establishments that sell alcohol to close at 10:30p.m.

One local Uber driver, Tyrone Nixon, said most drivers rely on bar nights because that is when a lot of college students use Uber to get home.

Despite the health order, Nixon said he is still making money because college students are going to house parties instead.

“So I think what they [Boone County] thought that would decrease college kids from going out, but from my observation—my opinion— that’s made things a lot worse. The college students are going from house party, to house party, to house party. Basically if the house party gets shut down, they know the next one and they’re on top of that.”

Nixon’s wife, Nicole, said the distance between house parties are longer than the distance from downtown to campus.

“Down like from the university to Grindstone, you know, that’s definitely more profitable for us then from campus, like from one side of campus to the other side of campus.”

Nixon said there’s less competition because other drivers didn’t want to risk their health.

“A lot of them are just like ‘I’m not risking it.’ I literally seen a guy get a whole like face mask on with a tube and the tube connects out the window,” Nixon said. “So I mean with the population Uber drivers, they tend to be older. A lot of them, as I said, ‘I’m not doing it.’”

On the other hand, taxi drivers like Gamal Dirar, who works for 5 STAR TAXI, haven’t been getting as many calls.

“We’re struggling. I’m looking for another job now to cover what I need to run this business and keep it going. The business goes down so quick. People leave earlier than 10 and don’t make any money like before [the pandemic],” Dirar said.

The health order is set to expire on 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 6, unless otherwise extended, rescinded or modified.

Halifax gives green light to ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft

Halifax Regional Council has approved new rules that will allow transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in the municipality …

Halifax regional council has approved new rules that will allow transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in the municipality.

Drivers will have to get criminal background checks every year, along with the child abuse registry and a vulnerable persons check.

Coun. Tony Mancini voted in favour of the motion.

“The downtown business associations want it,” he said during council Tuesday. “The Halifax partnership, the chamber [of commerce], the restaurant association, Discover Halifax, the thousands of students who go to our universities and colleges, our business community want this model.”

Coun. Tony Mancini said many organizations and people in Halifax want a ride-hailing service.(Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

Thirteen councillors voted in favour of the new rules, while four — Steve Adams, Shawn Cleary, Lindell Smith and Richard Zurawski — voted against it.

Operators like Uber and Lyft will be subject to an annual licensing fee.

The price depends on how many vehicles a company has in service. It ranges as low as $2,000 for up to 10 vehicles and as high as $25,000 for more than 100 vehicles.

Cleary said he voted against the motion because a “per-trip fee” was not included in the new rules. A per-trip fee would allow the municipality to charge the transportation network companies a fee to operate.

“Unfortunately, without the per-trip fee, we’re not actually building a sustainable transportation solution for Halifax,” he said, adding that he would support it if the fee were added in the future.

The municipality needs approval from the province to implement that fee, as it would require changes to the Motor Vehicle Act. This change was requested by Mayor Mike Savage in February, but it hasn’t happened.

The proposal outlined that there is a risk associated with not being able to charge a per-trip fee because the cost of administering the program is unknown and the proposed annual licence fee may not offset the costs.

It did say that staff is continuing to work with the province to encourage amending the Motor Vehicle Act.

In an email, an Uber spokesperson said the rule change was a “positive step forward,” but that “regulatory change is required at the provincial level as well.”

“We look forward to [Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines] sharing details and timelines for the reforms required to make ridesharing a reality,” the email said.

In 2019, it was revealed that Halifax Regional Municipality staff had been quietly meeting with representatives of Uber to discuss what regulations could be put in place to let ride-hailing services operate in Halifax.

A spokesperson with Lyft said the company is not planning to expand its locations at this time, but “we are in conversations with regulators across the country and appreciate the opportunity to work with all levels of government in Halifax and Nova Scotia.”