This man went from working for Delhi Metro to building a startup that solves transportation in India’s congested roads

Amit Singh, Co-founder and CEO, Shuttl
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Amit Singh, CEO and co-founder, Shuttl talks about how the app has solved transportation problems for India’s working professionals.
  • It is operational in 8 cities and has marked over 20 million rides so far.
Nineteen years back, Amit Singh used to take the bus to work everyday from Prabhadevi to Nariman Point. His friend who would board the same bus midway, would call him to track its ETA.

Today, with co-founder Deepanshu Malviya Singh, runs a technology-enabled, seat-based, demand-adaptive bus mobility service – Shuttl.

With Shuttl, a user can select from prefixed routes and schedules to commute from home to work. The service, popular with millennials and working professionals, is operational in eight cities and has marked over 20 million rides so far. Its biggest market is Delhi-NCR with women making up 38% of its customers.

Singh, an IIT-Delhi graduate, had earlier worked on the Delhi Metro and later at investment firms, before going on to work at Jabong. Having gained experience in both transportation and consumer internet, Singh knew that he had to bring both these industries together.

“We were supremely impressed with Uber as a product. However, there was a trade-off between affordability and comfort,” he said.

The Mathematics behind transportation

Singh has a simple equation for comfort in transportation.

Comfort = assured seat + a direct route + an AC vehicle.

“Buses are the most cost efficient way of moving people. They have been there for ages, except that there was no technology involved. The white space was between cabs which offered extra seats at a price and a public transport which assured no seat at a cheaper price,” said Singh.

So, they took buses – unbundled the seats, rebundled them and offered with a subscription model. “In India, there are three factors – high population density, low purchasing power, solutions and developing infrastructure – that gave us the opportunity to come and build something,” said Singh.

The original commute

When in 2015, Singh and Malviya started working on Shuttl, it was an intercity service providing bus routes between Delhi and Jaipur. On April 6, 2015, they realised that they weren’t solving a day-to-day problem. By April 7, Malviya built an app where users can put an origin and a destination without any payment gateway. On April 8, they stood at HUDA city centre in Gurugram, and convinced two people to use the app.

By evening, those two people got five more along, thus taking it to nine bookings in a day. “Retention and referral are big things. We didn’t sell to nine people, we sold only to two, yet our phones were ringing with orders,” said Singh.

Within four months, they gained the attention of one of India’s marquee funds – Sequoia Capital. By September, they had reached 10,000 users.
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