Rapido shifts focus to logistics; sees 25% business recovery and aims for 1.5x growth next year over FY20
Rapido Captain
Rapido is now present in 100 cities serving over 10 million customers with 15 lakh+ registered Captains.

Rapido shifts focus to logistics; sees 25% business recovery and aims for 1.5x growth next year over FY20

Rapido is now present in 100 cities serving over 10 million customers with 15 lakh+ registered Captains.
  • Rapido is aiming to achieve at least 1.5x growth than last fiscal. It is the only mobility company that is eyeing profits this year.
  • Rapido has already seen 25% of its business bouncing back.
  • Pavan Guntupalli, Co-founder, Rapido, talks to us about the story behind launching the brand, its growth, and mantra behind its road to profitability.
The lockdown impacted most businesses across the globe. Some shut down and some learnt how to evolve with the changing tides. Home-grown brand Rapido, a Bike-Taxi service provider, saw its revenue plunge in the first two months after COVID hit the country and people were locked inside the four walls of their houses. With it, mobility came to a complete standstill.

However, it soon saw a silver lining in June and July as 25% of its business bounced back. One of the reasons behind this demand was that people started avoiding public places and transport. Although, according to Rapido, 80% of India still doesn’t own private vehicles and due to COVID, they needed a safe and secure commute. This presented an opportunity in adversity for Rapido.

Explaining why the brand’s demand came back, Pavan Guntupalli, Co-founder, Rapido, said, “Customers became aware that bike taxi is a more open and personalized way for intra-city travel. The customer has an advantage of less exposure to any infection due to his/her limited interaction with the captain (driver) and less touch points.”

People also started renting its bikes for longer commutes.

“Our average distance has suddenly changed, earlier people were using us for the last mile 3-5km but suddenly because of unavailability of regular public transport, our average distance has increased to 35% in some cities and overall, we saw 25% increase. Now people are using us for home to home travel and not just for last mile connectivity. Somewhere in December, we are hoping to come back to 100% of our business as before,” said Guntupalli.

Shifting gears

Rapido was growing at around 15% month-on-month from the last 3 years before the pandemic-infused lockdown hit India. It also doubled its presence from 50 cities to 100 in 6 months.

Post lockdown, it had to shift its business model from offering bikes and taxies from consumers to distributors. Around 92% of its business came from bike and taxi model (intra-city mobility) and 8% came from logistics (essential supplies). Now, 30% of its total business comes from logistics and 70% from bike taxis.

So, it decided to pivot its focus on accelerating the existing logistics business model by following a few initiatives such as delivering essentials at home, supporting the government to resolve supply-chain challenges, etc.

“Rapido has been operating delivery services for e-commerce companies for close to 2 years now namely Zomato, Swiggy, Delhivery.com, Myntra, Eat.Fit. SuprDaily, Mapprr, 24*7 Stores, Kalerya, Bharatpe. During the lockdown, we amped up the existing Rapido-Delivery services to provide for the delivery of essential goods and partnered with major online companies like Big Bazaar, Big Basket and Spencer’s for delivery of essential goods,” shared Guntupalli.

Building on the demand for logistics further, Rapido launched Rapido Local, a person-to-person delivery service.

“Rapido Store is a convenient tool for offline and online businesses to help them reach out and deliver products to their customers in these challenging times. Rapido Store helps local businesses take care of multiple customer deliveries simultaneously in the most affordable and trusted manner. The service is currently operational in Bangalore & Vijayawada and will scale to all cities Rapido is present in,” explained Guntupalli.

Marketing Strategy and Understanding Consumers

To gain its consumers' trust in a volatile market, Rapido introduced Safety Shields that helped consumers to maintain a safe distance from the driver or Captain, as Rapido calls them.

Rapido shifts focus to logistics; sees 25% business recovery and aims for 1.5x growth next year over FY20

Guntupalli said, “The Shield weighs around 400 gms -- it is a lightweight, PVC board that is attached to the Captain’s back like a rucksack. The shield covers the Captain’s body and makes for a considerable distance between the customer and our Captain. Apart from the usual measures, like using masks, sanitizers and the ArogyaSetu App, that we have taken, we felt the Safety Shields will be an added measure of safety during the rides.”

It also tweaked its marketing strategy to increase awareness about the safety measures they followed. Its strategy is multi-lingual and regional.

“We are trying to help change consumer behaviour towards safety, by helping them embrace the new norms through best practices when it comes to precautions, like bringing their own helmet, and avoiding stepping out. We also ensure that we leverage push notifications, SMS, emailers, in-app training videos, social media campaigns and marketing campaigns in various languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi, to communicate regularly on our company updates and initiatives. We recently launched our first-ever video campaign, #PromiseofProtection, that showcases Rapido’s commitment to the safety and protection of its users, through an understanding of different relationships in our lives. In the initial phase of COVID, we launched a fundraiser for the Captains to provide them with the support they needed to weather the difficult times,” said Guntupalli.

Goals for this fiscal

As we inch towards normalcy and people have started stepping out, Rapido is aiming to achieve at least 1.5x growth over last fiscal. It is the only mobility company that is eyeing profits this year.

According to PGA Labs, bike taxi service is now a $150 million market, growing at 20% month-over-month. In India 300 million people commute every day out of which only 1% happens via apps. It is estimated that bike taxis in India have the potential to create 5+ million livelihood opportunities, generating a revenue of $10 billion.

With rapid urbanisation and smart status of cities, bike-taxi is becoming the future of intra-city transport. Due to COVID, they are also avoiding public transport. As a result, Rapido has become the third largest ride sharing platform in the country that sees around 10 million transactions in a month.

Now, after securing a leadership position in the Bike Taxi ecosystem across cities, Rapido’s next focus area is to use technology to propel newer models that will help serve end users as well as businesses in the post COVID world.

However, vehicle ownership in India is less. Hardly 18-20% people own a vehicle, that means 80% people still don’t have their own vehicle. When the pandemic hit, a huge problem statement was the need for a safe and secure commute. This became an opportunity in adversity for Rapido, as it saw a 25% spike in the month of June and July.

Where it all began

Rapido introduced bike sharing in our country in 2015. The product was built to bridge the last mile connectivity gaps. People in Tier II, III and beyond towns and cities have limited public transport solutions, some are not even available late in the evenings, making it difficult to look for an affordable option to travel within the city and getting shared autos are a hassle especially if you are a woman.

However, being a first mover has its own set of challenges. Rapido was dealing with both cultural and social challenges. People did not feel comfortable sitting behind a stranger. So to woo consumers, Rapido took a quirky route.

Guntupalli said, “We took a multilingual approach for our consumer outreach. The idea was to reach larger sets of audiences across Tier I, II and III cities and build affinity with the message. We worked on short, quirky videos that are a trend among tech-savvy millennials. We introduced the brand in a fun and different way to them through 7 videos with themes such as Don’t be late, Save Your Date, KabhiBhiKahinBhi, Don’t’ Get Crushed Away In Traffic, Late for Exam, Just Stay Calm.”

It also partnered with traffic police in cities like Vijayawada, Mangalore, Mysore, Kota to name a few, to drive awareness about road safety with helmet distribution campaigns.

To make its women customers feel safer, Rapido masks their phone numbers from its captains. It was also the first bike taxi company in India to introduce insurance for both customers and Captains from Day 1.

Rapido is now present in 100 cities serving over 10 million customers with 15 lakh+ registered Captains. It is the 3rd largest ride sharing platform in the country with 10 million transactions a month and has recorded over 25 million app downloads.