World’s 1st community based carpooling app that helps you get rid of the daily traffic problems you go through and makes you escape driving, helping you build a social group and meet new people.
IndiaSpark interviewed one of the co-founder of Together We Go, Parth Patel.
1. Tell us about your background before “Together We Go”. Share with us briefly about your entrepreneurial journey and inception of “Together We Go”.
Since I was accustomed to a hassle-free campus life till 2011 before graduation, the menace of daily commute in Mumbai caught me unawares. At first, my good landlord allowed me to use his car for daily office commute, as his kids were all settled abroad and the car was just catching dust. I drove to office for first couple of days, but found it harder each day to find a parking spot. Eventually I was forced to shun the idea of taking my own car and instead started hailing taxis. I travelled daily from my home in Bandra West to the EY office in Dadar West. I had to wait for at least 15 mins before I got a taxi. The likes of Ola & Uber were not available that time.
Somehow for next 4 years I managed to juggle between traveling via taxis, trains and autos to office. With the advent of Ola & Uber, I gave them a try, but soon realized that the costs are higher or similar to hailing a kaali peeli taxi. Plus nowadays I am always charged a surge fare. Trains are also getting over-crowded day after day. Traffic jams and pollution are a common phenomenon.
The above highlighted issues of daily commute are faced by all Mumbaikars. What could be the solution? “Carpooling”, uttered my EY colleague and co-founder Vipin over a casual coffee conversation.
And hence, a couple of months down the line, we launched ‘Together We Go (ToGo)’ – an intra-city carpooling mobile app for daily office commute. In fact, traffic congestion and lack of parking space are key challenges being faced by daily commuters in all major cities of the world. Plus air pollution poses an imminent threat to society, with 8mn deaths/year due to air pollution around globe.
2. What is “Together We Go” all about? Tell us in detail about the services offered?
ToGo is the world’s 1st community based carpooling mobile app, with a WhatsApp group like chat interface for carpoolers to interact with each other. All you have to do is to enter your daily home-office route details and you will automatically join a chat group of people travelling on your daily route.
Even before a commuter connects with a fellow co-traveller, the app’s fare calculator provides a fare estimate based on the number of kilometers common to both co-travellers. With ‘Together We Go’, car owners can share fuel cost while co-travelers can travel at low cost. Thane <-> Parel is Rs 100 while Thane to BKC is just Rs 85 roughly.
Safety measures include: – Official e-mail address verification. – Option to carpool with your office colleagues only. – Women-only groups – female users have the option of creating such groups.
Currently, the app is available only on Google Play Store. The iOS version will be launched soon. We partnered with Mumbai’s Dabbawalas recently to promote carpooling amongst office-goers in Lower Parel.
3. What is your competition in the market? What is it that sets you apart from your competition?
Amongst all carpooling apps globally, ‘Together We Go’ is the only app, which forms route-based social groups/ communities of trustworthy people, enabling them to chat/ call with each other with an aim to carpool. This WhatsApp like group based platform to communicate for the purpose of carpooling is a novel approach, which hasn’t been used by any other carpooling player in the world, let alone India. We believe carpooling is more of a social concept, as we build communities of people on all routes. Rest of the apps just have a send/accept request model similar to Uber, in which the whole “social” angle is lost.
4. What is the business model of ”Together We Go”? Can you briefly summarize the growth achieved in both volume and value from Day 1 till now?
Within 5 weeks of the launch, ToGo’s social network of car-poolers is >3,500 users strong in Mumbai. Thane to BKC, Thane to Parel, Navi Mumbai to BKC and Navi Mumbai to Parel routes are witnessing major traction. More than 300 ride requests are being sent daily. As more commuters join route based groups daily, the probability of finding a suitable co-traveller will increase exponentially.
5. How has been your beginner’s journey? What were the challenges you faced in setting up and scaling up your enterprise? Any hurdle that you faced or still facing?
Carpooling has been widely accepted in European nations, but is relatively a new concept in India. A paradigm shift is need to bring about behavioural change in people and encourage them to carpool. We have to address the security concerns of people and help people overcome the social stigma attached with carpooling, if we want to make ToGo a success.
6. Can you tell us about your other founders/core team, their background and rich experience?
We are a team of tech enthusiasts who want to make travel easier, greener, cheaper and safer! Myself, Parth Patel and my co-founder, Chintan Pandya are 2011 passouts from IIT-Delhi and IIT-Kanpur respectively. Both of us hail from Baroda, where we used to study together for the IIT entrance exam.
I met Vipin at EY, where we used to work together as Management Consultants. After 4 years of work-ex, the trio of us got together to launch ‘Together We Go’ carpooling mobile app – with an aim to provide a solution to rising daily commute woes.
For marketing, we hire interns as and when required, or outsource work such as social media marketing, BTL, etc. For example, for marketing ToGo in Lower Parel, we partnered with Dabbawalas and distributed flyers via their dabbas.
Together We Go Team
7. How is Together We Go funded? Any early stage money/seed stage experience that you would like to share with us?
We received a funding of ~50 lakhs at seed stage from Angel investors. Can’t share further details.
8. Any other areas or initiatives that you plan to venture in future? Any school/ campus-connect initiatives that you are pursuing or plan to pursue?
No. We are just focusing on making “Together We Go (ToGo)” a global brand for carpooling. No. We are doing corporate connect initiatives since our target audience is office goers.
9. What will “Together We Go” look like in 10 years from now? All perspectives – people, business, revenues, team, size or anything you foresee for the venture.
Our vision is to make carpooling an alternative means of transport, just like taxi/bus/train. With rising issues such as pollution, lack of parking space, traffic congestion on roads, etc. the world needs a permanent and sustainable solution. And carpooling is that solution we believe. Team size and revenues are eventualities of which we haven’t thought of to be frank. We are just focusing on making “Together We Go”, a disruptive platform for carpooling. But just for the sake of mentioning, BlaBlaCar has completed around 10 years and it is now valued at $1.6bn – BlaBlaCar is the world’s largest carpooling player in the market for inter-city carpooling. It has not even touched intra-city carpooling for daily commute, which is our focus area to start with.
Short terms target is >100 rides per day in Mumbai, post which we will go for another round of funding to expand into other cities in India, and launch ToGo in international market as well. We have a truly social product, wherein we will incur only marketing expenses globally. No logistics involved. So it is relatively easy to scale ToGo internationally.
10. Any experience or advice you would like to share with soon to be start-up founders out there?
Don’t give up on your idea, if you believe that it caters to a need in the market. There will be many ups and downs – but good things will start happening eventually. Just do the “karma”, results will follow.
Don’t be reluctant of getting your hands dirty – be prepared to do all kinds of stuff – from company incorporation, hiring, technical, road side marketing, surveying, etc. – everything.
11. Who are your role models?
Our role models are not people, but truly social ideas and companies that have made a difference in the society, such as Airbnb and meetup.com. We want to follow in their footsteps and start a peer to peer carpooling revolution!
12. Share some of your ‘happiest moments’ in your journey.
Undoubtedly the time when we got wonderful reviews, just a couple of days from the launch of our app.
We hope that the “karma” the company is doing, give them profitable results and wish them all the best for their future.