Traffic in India is amplifying at an exponential rate. Boom in population in metro cities has made commuting dreadfully long. Even getting a ticket booked takes hours because it is so packed. Keeping this in mind Brijraj Vaghani has developed an app that makes booking tickets easy.
Born in Akola, Brijraj was brought to Mumbai after his birth. He was raised by a single mother at his maternal grandparents’ place. His mother would stay at home and his grandfather had an export import business.
Brijraj did his engineering in electronics, and then completed masters from University of Missouri, USA. He worked in America for four years, out of which two years were with a startup.
Owing to his determination, he started Birds Eye Technology which developed the application Ridlr. Initially, there were several struggles as he started with a saving of only a few thousand rupees. This slowed down the pace of his business and they had to strive hard to secure clients and convince them about their idea. However, Brijraj had a clear vision that guided their path.
Ridlr, founded in 2012, aims at conveying mass transit information and transactions online for users. From the user’s point of view, they use one app to look up information, plan travel, and pay for different modes of travel. Ridlr wanted to make the lives of people convenient by making public transport easier and providing answers to traffic-related queries before they stepped out of their houses.
Getting tickets was a huge problem for the commuters and because of which there was always an obligation of reaching on time after buying the tickets. Their digital-ticketing service solved the challenges of availability of exact change while buying tickets, waiting in long queues to recharge bus passes, and real-time traffic update and information. Ridlr was conceptualized as a simple idea of providing live traffic information to commuters across Mumbai. But the app soon evolved expanding their offerings by providing an integrated transport solution to over 25 cities in India.
Right from looking up information to enjoying a comfortable ride by booking tickets, Ridlr spans the entire life cycle of the commuter; and that too across various modes of transport. It provides real-time information about buses, local trains, metros, and monorail schedules to assist users and help them reach their destinations on time. It also enables commuters to book tickets online thereby, providing them hassle-free journeys throughout the city.
The drive was to build the infrastructure of user-friendly apps. There were no sensors or public camera feeds that one can use to measure traffic on roads. Along with this, there were no standard APIs and protocols for transit agencies to share data with users in digital form. Our nation lacks in physical infrastructure for mobile ticketing. In developed nations the government deploys sensors and cameras on the roads for remote monitoring and surveillance. The data from these sensors and cameras was shared with app developers or companies to enable them in building apt applications for the users.
The app companies never had to worry about infrastructure and focused only on building the best possible user experience. We do not have such sensor deployments everywhere, although cities do have CCTV cameras but the feed is not shared with anyone for security reasons. Ridlr overcame this by looking for alternate and unconventional sources of data to sample traffic information. It tied up with cabs and logistic companies who would share their GPS feeds with them and in turn would convert it to reliable traffic information. After establishing baseline data they used crowd-sourcing effectively. Similarly, for public transport, the most developed countries have standard processes and protocols using which app developer can aggregate data about routes, timetables, etc methodically. Not only do agencies in India not have any process or protocols, many of the smaller ones did not have it in any digital format too. Ridlr had to digitize it for them using tools they built. They overcame this by building tools which transit agencies could use to maintain their data. They could also change the data using these tools.
The app has expanded gradually and today, they already have over 1,75,000 people and growing who have bought tickets from Ridlr and close to 10 percent of the total pass holders have already recharged the pass at least once on Ridlr.
Ridlr is planning on adding more cities by early next year. It will be expanding to other metro cities and some big state transport organizations in the coming months. Ridlr developers also want to expand with planning and booking services to all major cities in India. It has a PAN-India presence across 25 cities in India. The traffic and transport information is live across 20 cities. Mobile ticketing is available in Mumbai. Ridlr has a strong foothold in Mumbai. They have information services in Chennai, Bangalore, Bellary, Hyderabad, and Vijaywada for now in the south.
The employee strength is 70 with around 25-30 focused on core tech work (development, quality analysis, product and growth). They also have a few hardware engineers as well as on the operation side customer support and social media team. Ridlr has a dedicated team to keep the information updated – traffic and any other delays.
India has the talent and technology to solve its unique problems and Ridlr is one such product. It is important to understand that we must do our bit and don’t need to rely only on the West for help us. The metro ticketing solution which has been developed by Ridlr is not available even in NYC and China and the team hopes to make it a global product which is made in India. Thus, we can see there is no task too big if you have the vision and capability to see it through you can create your own influence.