Last November, when the Delhi Uber fiasco flashed headlines on Newspapers, most of us were horrified. We fretted about women safety. We worried about how safe our child could be on such a cab. And then, like most things we forgot about it. Well, two women decided that there’s something to be done about it. And here’s what they did about it!
Meet Vandana Suri and Hemalatha T, two feisty women who set up ‘TaxShe‘, an exclusive all-women driver-on-demand service!
TaxShe calls its women drivers ‘Roos’. Named after the protective Kangaroo, Roo stands for protectiveness, strength and agility. Protectiveness because it comes with the responsibility to protect its users, strength because it is supported by incredibly strong women and agility, because the Roo will totally adapt to your needs.
So, what’s exactly different about Roo?
Taxshe provides WOMEN drivers-on-call for you, to pick up and drive your children to and from school, to drive your parents for medical appointments, to drive your wife and sisters to work, for shopping trips and family gatherings . Its simple! Your car and a Roo Driver!
The undeniable outcome is, of course, your safety, your child’s safety – and peace.
Kidskintha did an exclusive interview with the founders of TaxShe. Here’s what you need to know about this fabulous service…
Tell Us how you came to start TaxShe.
We started TaxShe because we noticed an acute deficiency in the feeling of protection and safety for women and children. In our study, this hindered a lot of women from carrying out tasks independently; having to wait for husbands and other male members to accompany them.
Taxshe currently caters to providing women drivers to drive women, children and senior citizens around town. In our knowledge, we are the only company in India which is a driver-on-call company focused by the women for the women. Our focus is on child-friendly driver-on-demand service, while empowering women all the way!
What was the inspiration behind your start-up? Is your start-up an answer to some challenge you came across yourself?
Yes, as women, I think each and every one has gone through some kind of abuse and discomfort in our lives. Whether we report it or not, each one experiences this. We shrug it off, maybe its just too small to ever bring to anyone’s notice. But we carry the uncomfortable memories with us the entire life. So, we thought we needed to find some practical solutions to make things safe for us. The recent UBER incident in November really triggered this initiative. Had there been women drivers, there could be some respite to this.
What led you to believe that this would be your niche?
Currently there are some women cab companies running around India. However, when we went into a market survey, we realized that all these women cab companies had just about 10-12 cabs over a 3 year running. We realized that there were 2 issues why we did not have women drivers
a. Firstly, this is a job which is currently taken as a blue collared job in India, a “driver” job. Most women in India never even dream of driving as a career, so they never learn in the first place.
b. Secondly, under our laws, if you do not have a license for over a year, you cannot drive a cab- a yellow board, you can only drive private vehicles in that one year period. Women hardly consider taking this up as a career. Also, in the lower income segments, why would a woman take a driving license in the first place when she could never even afford a car to drive? So, the only way to address this was to bring up a driver on call service, which allows them to drive for a year, and then funnel into a cab business. Its like, you cant go to secondary school without going through primary school!
What is your venture’s big picture? Do you believe you idea can change the world in some way?
The big picture is obviously women safety and women empowerment. And breaking the shackles of these collared designations in India. We think this is a protection job, this is the need of the hour. This can help bring down crime rate in the country. We also see it as something that can change our attitude towards labor. Every person is respected for what they are doing, its the entire ecosystem that works together.
Do you see the Internet as your biggest online partner?
Internet is definitely the biggest online partner for us. The internet gives us the opportunity to reach out to the masses. For any societal change, this reach is very important.
How big do you envision your Market size and reach to be? What is your revenue model? Who are your competitors?
Market size of Indian Cab services is estimated at about USD 4Billion to USD 6 billion. Growth in this market is expected at about 100% plus YOY . We charge by the hour, our charges are Rs150/hour . In the women driver segment, we actually have no competition as of now. We are the first only-women driver company in India.
Our next immediate competition in the generic driver on call service is ezidrive and driveroncall.
We will also face competition from cab companies like Ola and Uber as we don’t have cabs at the moment.
What is your brand proposition?
Our brand proposition is the Kangaroo, we take inspiration from this animal. A very protective animal, and still a very strong animal. Isn’t that what we Indian women are made of! So, we brand our women as a ROO – stemming from the word kangaroo. We don’t call them drivers, even my own designation is a Founder ROO. Our uniforms are very smart. We don’t have the regular local wear; we wear a nice vest which is usually worn with business suits. We chose the colour black signifying a revolution.
Our ladies receive extensive driving training with Maruti Driving School. Normally, the driving training required for a license is about 21 hours.Here, we have up to 50 hours of training for our ladies, making them employable immediately post license. We also train them in basic English skills and self-defense.They also carry pepper spray with them as a mandate. Most importantly, most of the women who join us are in the age bracket of 35-45 and single moms. Its sort of a comeback and “demand the respect you deserve” movement in the undercurrent.
How is your startup being funded? Are there any future plans of investments?
Currently we are self-funded. We are in advanced discussions with close friends who would bring in angel investments at this point of time. Over a year’s time, we would need bigger funds graduating into a cab structure, that’s when we would be speaking to private equity players.
What are the revenues and margins like in this industry? When is the Break-Even expected by?
Margins are pretty low currently, with net margins of about 9-10%. We should be breaking even towards the year end, maybe in a 10-11 month run.
What are the current marketing efforts being incorporated? What do you see as necessary to take your business to the next level?
Currently we are marketing through social media and whatsapp. We are also in conversation with big companies for corporate tie ups for their women employees.
The biggest need here is not for the demand, it is supply chain. We face a wall in being able to meet and spread the news and educate more women to join. Its literally work on the floor all the time, there is a lot of individual and family discussions required and that has its limitations. In the lower income segments, most people are not hooked on to Facebook and Internet media, so it’s a manual and physical meeting that is required.
What does your typical day look like juggling between mom responsibilities and owning a business?
Serious a juggling job! But isn’t motherhood just that! Thankfully my 12 year old is pretty mature to understand what is going on and is highly supportive. He believes it is his business!
He actually does the biggest spread the word for me, is proud of me. My day starts as early as 6 AM and ends late in the night around 1 AM. Juggling with school work, then so many calls, so many meetings with NGOs and educational institutions, then getting back, addressing your child’s needs, then sitting late taking care of your mails, your social media and deep thinking.
Share particular challenges on managing a growing business being a mom, which is never less than a full-time job.
I think the biggest issue we face is time management. Spending quality time with our children is primary focus. Finally all our work is focused on our family and kids and their future, so cannot keep that at the back seat. So first thing I do is keep my phone on silent when I am with my son.
Everything else can wait at that time!
What is your personal mantra for motivation?
I had gone through quite some hell in my life, and then one friend said something which stuck in my head over the years. It was actually an iodex ad : Iodex Malo kaam pe chalo!! That somewhere stuck in my thoughts over the years and it always helps me buckle up when I feel weak and move!!
What message do you have for other aspiring Momprenuers!!
Being a mom is a natural side to us. But being a mom and an entrepreneur is a juggle and only a strong survivor gets through. And that’s what we are practically teaching our kids, that no matter what struggles, you can still do it. There is no better giveaway we can have for our kids, live with respect and face all odds! So don’t ever give up!
A few words about what you like about Kidskintha.
I was just reading through your articles yesterday on what goes through teenagers minds, and issues kids face, and the one about been proud of being dark skinned. I think you guys are doing a wonderful job, reaching out straight from the heart. Each and every word is so real! Keep up the good work!
So, the next time want to hail a Taxi, just call out for a ‘TaxShe’!
TO avail a Roo Service, dial +91 8884950088 / 8884960088. You can also reach out to them on email@example.com
Devishobha is the founder of Kidskintha- an online parenting resource repository dedicated to jumpstarting conversations around millennial parenting, encouraging parents to bring their attention to words, thoughts and actions that will enable them to raise a well-rounded, empathic and motivated generation. You can also find her on the Huffington Post, Parent.co, Entrepreneur, Lifehack, TinyBuddha and many other publications.