Mumbai-based mobility startup Cityflo is looking to become an alternative to commuting. The company, founded in May 2015, offers comfort with its luxury buses.
Commuting to and from work is a misery for many working professionals. According to a MoveInSync survey, Indians spend more than two hours each day travelling to work.
This is owing to the proliferation of single-passenger automobiles, which choke the roads and force commuters in Bengaluru alone to spend around 243 hours on the road each year, according to a poll. This necessitated a relatively simple solution in order to make mass transport commuting a reality.
Jerin Venad, Ankit Agrawal, Rushabh Shah, and Sankalp Kelshikar founded Cityflo in May 2015, a Lightbox Ventures and India Quotient-backed mobility business that strives to provide economical and convenient bus transportation to office-going professionals in metropolitan areas.
Mumbai-based Cityflo began with a single goal in mind: to provide an alternative tech-based bus transportation option. Its tempo traveller buses cost only Rs 60 every journey for office workers.
Commuters’ responses suggested that they were prepared to pay extra for a better service that saved them from having to travel in gridlock.
To compete with personal automobiles, Cityflo chose to transition from a bus service to providing premium office transportation.
It subsequently transitioned from tempo travelers to luxury BharatBenz buses. The firm now costs Rs 185 per journey, which drops to Rs 148 with a subscription.
The app has received over 100,000 downloads and a 4.6 rating on Google Play.
It’s also compatible with iOS.” “Even though we are asset-light, we tightly specify what sort of experience to deliver since, based on our market insight, there is a demand for a new mode of transportation rather than a technical solution,” Jerin says.
Currently, the firm provides 8,000 rides per day and 150,000 rides per month across 16 routes in Mumbai, employing 160 buses.
It aspires to be the preferred form of transportation for India’s white-collar professionals.
According to Jerin, offering an airline-like service required a complete revamp at all levels, including bus procurement, vehicle performance, maintenance, drivers, cleanliness, timeliness, and providing hassle-free service.
There was, however, no challenge like the epidemic.
Because of the company’s reliance on office workers, its operations came to a halt very immediately. Jerin adds that after a few months, the business was optimistic of making a comeback, expecting the arrival of flexible working.
Cityflo secured Rs 57 crore in a Series A investment round headed by Lightbox Ventures and India Quotient in November 2020, allowing the firm to withstand the epidemic.
Optimistic about the future, the firm used the downtime to double concentrate on quality, driver training, and crowdfunding assistance.
It was also conservative with the funds raised because it was intended for expansion rather than survival.
Cityflo’s business recovered quickly after the second wave.
Jerin adds that the corporation currently has excess capital. The firm claims to have tripled its sales in the first half of this year.
He claims that the company’s revenue is rising at a rate of 10-15% per month and that it will be profitable in four to six months.
It presently has an annualised operating income of Rs 40 crore, which it intends to increase by 10-15% over the next two years.
As a result, they decided to create a business in this field and founded Cityflo.
After three months of operations, they funded a seed round with an unknown sum from their personal funds.
Rushabh now oversees all corporate tasks, including expansion, operations, customer service, and business intelligence. Ankit is in charge of engineering and product development, Jerin is the CEO, and Sankalp is in charge of brand and marketing.
Since its launch, Cityflo has raised around Rs 68 crore.
As a prototype service, it recently extended to serve a few routes around Delhi.
While Jerin acknowledges that Delhi confronts comparable difficulties to Mumbai, he also emphasizes that the latter need more routes and buses due to increased demand.
“We are really focused on accomplishing that,” he adds, adding that the firm is expanding cautiously and slowly.
“We want to grow to Delhi because we see a similar demand worldwide and we can apply our knowledge there, although we are still in the early stages.”
“As an improvement, the business collaborated with Pinnacle Speciality Vehicles to develop the buses, which would be built under the Bharat Benz brand.”
The new buses, which are intended to increase comfort and functionality, are slated to begin service early next year.