One of the biggest reasons for Dhaka’s infamy as a place to live in is daily transportation problems. For a very long time, Dhaka commuters found themselves with all sorts of difficulties commuting to and from home each day. More often than not, one will find himself hanging off the door handles on buses too crowded and unsafe, or find himself haggling with CNG Drivers, who are sadly quite selective about destination (and also the fares), unlike the meters. People are always on the go, and not everyone has private transportation taking them everywhere. There is always a need for readily available and secure transportation facilties. Where all else is out of reach, why fret when you could simply book a taxi with a touch of your fingers?
Two school students Osama Maqsood and Faraj Rahman are looking to bring you exactly that very soon.
Tell us about TaxiWala. What is your story? How did you get started?
We are both 17 and we go the the American International School in Dhaka. My friend and I were looking to start a business together as we were both passionate advocates of entrepreneurship. During our winter vacation term break, I was stuck at the Bashundhara mall because my car broke down. I was left stranded as my chaffeur had to figure out a way to get the car to a workshop. I on the other hand was looking for transport which would take me home. I waited ten minutes for a taxi, but I had no luck. I continued on waiting for twenty minutes and there was no hope to avail a taxi. I ended up taking a very uncomfortable ride back home in a CNG. I consulted my friend and now business partner Faraj Rahman that there was something missing in this digital age of Bangladesh. This country was missing a simple to use Taxi booking app. Our inspiration was from other international Taxi booking apps such as “GrabTaxi” and “Uber”. From there we contacted professional app developers who we worked with to develop our app which is called TaxiWala. The name has a story of its own as well. We named our app TaxiWala because we wanted to have a local touch to the name such as the food ordering app “HungryNaki”.
Are you the first such company? if not, what sets you apart?
As far as we know we are the first type of taxi booking app in Bangladesh that will not take any business away from the taxi firms and the drivers. Rather, our app will expand the customer base and bring in more revenue for the taxi firm, as we look forward to work with them. This app is developed to benefit the citizens of Bangladesh and utilize the tech age.
How will you operate? How do you plan to make money?
We will launch our app that will be available for the iOS and Android phones. We will also have a website so bookings can be done online. We will provide the taxi firms with an admin panel, which then they will be able to monitor and send the nearest taxi to the pick up location. We plan on charging a fixed amount per booking made through the app or the website.
Who are your target customers? How do you plan to reach them?
Our target customers are those who not only use taxis but also those who are afraid to due to the conditions of the old taxis. We hope to work with firms who provide safe and clean taxis. We would also like to attract tourists as they usually have to rent cars to get around dhaka which is quite expensive. We hope the taxi business in Bangladesh could be similar to the taxi business in Thailand, Singapore and India, as most tourists use taxis to get around.
How long have you been in operation? do you have a website?
We currently have not began our operations. We plan on beginning our operations in Dhaka in March. At the moment our app is still in development along with negotiations and setup with the taxi firms. We already have the beta versions of the app in testing for bugs. Our website is also in development at the moment, however we have started with a Facebook page to get our name around.
What are some milestones you plan to achieve within 6 months – 1 year?
We plan to launch as soon as possible and market our app as efficiently as possible. In 6 months we hope to achieve a daily customer base of 200. In a year we hope that we have a significant impact on the transportation sector in Bangladesh.
What are some challenges you faced setting this business up? what are some challenges you expect to face reaching customers and getting people to turn to TaxiWala?
As usual, with us being 17 year olds people did not take us seriously. However we pulled through and are in a good state to run this operation. Marketing could be is bit expensive which might limit us to get the most customers possible. As usual we need to sell our idea to the public. We need to prove to them that waiting for a taxi is not the only option, rather the worst option compared to our app TaxiWala.
Who are some members of the Dhaka Startup community that you look up to and would like to work with?
Well we know a little about the one of the founders of Startup Dhaka. We know he is a alumni of our School. His name is Mr. Fayaz and he is the cousin of one of our classmates here at AISD we look forward to meet him and the whole team of Startup Dhaka.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
We would like to set a successful example to all those who aspire to become entrepreneurs, one day. We really want to be an example to the youth of this nation, as we are starting a business at a very young age. You must believe you can achieve what you are after, and not let people bring you down. That happened to us constantly but we have pulled through so far and we will continue to.
To keep tabs on this explosive new startup, keep your eyes on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taxiwaladhaka