As part of celebrating the Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016, a Start-up storytelling session was held at Kathmandu College of Management (KCM), Kathmandu on Nov 8, 2016. The session aimed at discussing a new company – Tootle - on their experience of new business development. Sixit Bhatta, founder of Tootle and his team were invited to speak at the event.
The Story of Toot-ling
A few creative friends with a background in technology were looking to launch a bus location tracking service in association with Sajha Bus. However, they eventually drifted into the idea of developing a platform for shared personal mobility – using personal bikes and offering ride services. They realized that such service seemed to have greater market demand. The idea was to develop a mobile application that allowed private vehicle owners to offer rides to those willing to pay certain charge for it along certain routes. While this resembled the idea of Uber (the carpooling services offered in USA and India), Mr Bhatta recognized its terrific market opportunity in Kathmandu where public transportation was in dire straits. He also deliberated on the fact that there were 80,000 motorcycles registered in Bagmati zone alone. Bhatta also spoke of how the company coming into inception and action proved to be a bumpy ride. The challenge of not knowing whether to approach motorbike owners or public vehicle commuters in order to verify demand and supply initially proved to be an obstacle. In following that, he spoke of how his team finally designed a delicate strategy to attract interested ride-providers willing to offer seats to the public. This was simultaneously followed with approaching public vehicle commuters to understand their interest in the idea. Bhatta also recognizes that the success of the venture largely depends on the participation of youngsters in terms of adopting this novel system and influencing others to do so.
The session continued as the other team members of “Tootle” began to explain their working mechanism and interface navigation of the mobile application to explain how one could use it. The developers seemed to have reasonably taken care of both party’s safety concerns in launching this previously untested stuff in the market. The app collected personal and relevant legal information of ride providers, and an instant messaging feature to inform close ones of both parties regarding their real-time travel status was also enabled in the system. Interestingly, the payment medium of the application allowed the parties to transact via a “Tootle Wallet” besides cash. The wallet allowed parties to could store their credit balance which would be redeemable through E-sewa. Moreover, the travels were tracked through GPS systems for the sake of ensuring predictability and service quality. Having recognized the importance of local leadership for the success of this business, the team seemed to have effectively chosen informal marketing strategies such as buzz marketing (selecting opinion leaders/local ambassadors from the public to endorse and encourage the product use among the social circle). They always engaged in giving away free credit money initially to early adopters of this service. A Q&A session took place soon after the presentation as the Tootle team where they answered questions and queries.