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Have you ever been late for work or college because your bus was delayed due to some unknown reasons? Have you ever been uncertain about the best route that you should choose to reach the destination? Have you ever miss the bus because of long ticket queues? I believe, for most of you, the answer is yes! Well, now you don’t have to suffer from these anymore. In India, the strong demand for tracking & fleet management has led to startups betting big on innovations around the fleet management solutions. One such startup is Zophop. Zophop, founded in 2014 by Vinayak Bhavnani, is a public transit mobile product that aims to make daily commuting easier. The app which is available on Google PlayStore allows people to discover best routes, timings and fares across bus, train, metro, cab etc. Zophop’s services are presently available in 15 cities (Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Vijayawada, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Indore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Chennai, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Bhubaneshwar, Pune and Nagpur) & the company is planning to expand in other cities as well. Besides expansion across cities in India, Zophop is targeting International markets as well.
#The early days
After working in the car buying and selling marketplace with his friend, Vinayak Bhavnani shifted his focus on public transportation & think of ways to make the everyday commute easier, simpler & convenient for the overwhelming majority of people in the country. The result was Zophop, which Vinayak started in 2014. Initially bootstrapped, in 2015 the company raised angel investment from Anupam Mittal, founder of Shaadi.com and Satyan Gajwani, Managing Director of Times Internet, among others. According to Vinayak, the biggest challenge during the early days was to develop a deep understanding of the market and understand what the target audience needs. Apart from this, team building was one of the toughest jobs for the startup during the initial days. Explaining their business rationale, Vinayak Bhavnani said, “Indian cities cab barely sustain with the existing public infrastructure. We also noticed the number of modes of transport increasing. The bus ticket market is around $25 billion.” Zophop provides aggregated information with different time & fare options, along with nearest bus & train station locations.
#Changing the way India commute
Vinayak Bhavnani & team are using the latest technology to make transportation smarter & more convenient for everyone. Using GPS location, proprietary algorithm for all stops on the route based on current vehicle movement, historical data, and traffic information etc, Zophop allows commuters to track the real position of a bus & its time of arrival at any bus stop on a route. Apart from it, the app provides users with the advantage of Smart Ticketing. So with Zophop, you don’t need to carry cash all the time. You can purchase the tickets, register & recharge the monthly passes from anywhere, anytime. To make the things easier, the company has collaborated with BEST in Mumbai & with government bus agencies in other cities to make the passes available. It also has tie-ups with Uber & Jugnoo which lets users get a taxi or an auto using the app. Nikhil Aggarwal, COO, Zophop said, “We have installed around 1000 GPS systems in the local buses to get real-time data on buses.” The app uses data from 5000 GPS systems already installed by Government in buses.
For Zophop, revenue currently comes from a three percent commission on the bus passes the app sells. A possible future revenue stream is through usage of data. For instance, if a company wants a bus plying a new route, it can get the number of users in that area from the app’s database. Zophop follows a simple marketing strategy. They put up posters on buses & send their marketing executives to people waiting in long queues at bus stops across the city.
#Next in the cards
Zophop’s app has witnessed more than 3 lakh downloads since its launch in December 2014. The company has tied up with around 10 transport providers to offer either real-time information or ticketing. Zophop is also planning to bring 1, 00,000 buses on its platform in the next two to three years and to provide users with options to choose & combine these buses with other modes of transportation. Vinayak Bhavnani said, “When we offer real-time tracking of buses & their expected arrival at a stop, along with tickets or monthly passes on mobiles we make 2-4 percent of the ticket value; that’s a roughly $1.5-3 billion revenue market for us.”