It was a different world: where there were infinite possibilities of getting rides to wherever you wanted to go, a world where Uber and Ola kept fighting for the crown of the organized taxi world, a world where taxi drivers virtually owned cars for use throughout the day, the roads were filled with cars and the carbon footprint was growing larger than ever. But it was this same world which also saw people slowly growing apart, the shell surrounding them hardening at every moment, slowly becoming what one can call human cocoons – the fine threads of relationships and bonds being pulled out slowly of the fabric that mankind is.
Amidst all this, a group of men took upon themselves the task to bury the carbon footprint and bring out the humanity in everyone: in a Zify!
Have you ever wished for a car to take you to your destination while waiting in queues for the auto-rickshaws or the ‘omnipresent’ taxis? Well, your magic lamp was always there with you, it was right in front of your eyes in the form of the doctor who lived next door or the student who lived two floors down. The magic word that you have been looking for is carpooling. Carpooling as a concept dates back to the time even before the invention of cars itself. Owners used to ride people in their horse carriages (and later, their cars). Slowly this practice transformed into a profession – bringing in money, creating a new industry. And now this industry is turning to its roots.
Zify, the brain child of two IIT Kharagpur graduates, is an alternative greener way to commute than our normal routine. It has quickly risen in the circles as a user-friendly instant carpooling service, catering to the needs of the masses as well as the environment, albeit, indirectly.
The service operates as follows: You come out of your home to go to work, all set to get a promotion. But all you find is a long line of people, just like you, waiting for a taxi to come and pick them up one by one. And at that point, you realize that you, the very poor you, at the infinite end of the queue, would definitely lose that promotion. But then the optimist and the opportunist in you looks for other ways, and downloads the Zify app and selects the ride pickup point and destination. As the queue slowly reduces to something a little less than infinity, you’re already sitting in a car, the air conditioner blasting at your face, and to your surprise you find that the person driving is a mutual acquaintance of your favorite singer and you instantly connect with him. You arrive at your office in high spirits and win that promotion, all the while experiencing a hassle-free journey.
Zify is exactly what can virtually put you in the front of that queue. It facilitates carpooling for customers, giving them the opportunity to share rides with other people with a common destination who happen to pass by the same route. Two things that set Zify apart from its competitors like BlaBlaCar.com and Trida are: its unique cashless transactions (the money transaction effortlessly happens through Zify’s own online and offline money wallet that has to be recharged from time to time) and the fact that there are absolutely no taxi drivers involved in the entire process – all the people are like you or me, he who owns a car helping out he who does not.
This results in not only a cut in fuel consumption and emissions but it also helps in building social relations with various people, understanding human behavior and getting to know them more. And this is a whiff of fresh air in the monotonous world of daily commute. And when it comes to security and the fear of sharing cars with strangers, Zify requires government documents, employee ID’s and credentials for verification. It has a tie-up with the government and IT companies to assist with the verification. Not to mention, feedback from every customer after every ride will also add to the authenticity, verification and ratings, which will be displayed alongside every customer name while booking.
But this was not always a tale of sweet success – it involved a lot of blood and sweat. In spite of many rejections, doubts of people and the always present pessimistic view surrounding a startup, the founders stuck to their goals and followed their passion to do something for the society. And Zify stands now with more than 13,000 users (out of whom 10,000 are verified) in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi and NCR. It aims to expand into other major metropolitan cities and soon plans to go global with US, Europe, Ireland and Dublin under its fold. It is presently getting seed funded by a few major companies and colleges and has two angel investors supporting it.
In a chance encounter with one of the co-founders, Mr. Pramod Kumar, alumni of IIT Kharagpur CSE Department, we learnt that it was the culture of IIT that helped him and ignited the social feelings in him to do good for the society.”My Real Growth was in IIT. Nobody trains you, but you get trained.”
On asking what he expects from the institute in this venture, he said that the vast alumni network of the college, feedback on the app from the college and engagements in the form of internships would benefit him greatly.
The startup might have come a long way, but the team, which gave everything up for it and faced a lot of obstacles in the way, believes they still have a long way to go. And that is the attitude that will take them through that long way.