In May 2015, the company was founded. Mumbai-based mobility company Cityflo hopes to become an alternative to commuters and offers comfort on its luxurious buses.
For many professionals, getting to work and back is a pain. A MoveInSync report found that Indians spend more than two hours a day traveling to work. This is because of the number of single-passenger vehicles that block the roads, making commuters in Bengaluru alone to travel for around 244 hours on the roads each year, as per an investigation.
This required a simplified approach for making mass transit commuting possible.
Jerin Venad Ankit Agrawal Rushabh Shah along with Sankalp Kushkarcame with each other in the month of May and founded Cityflo which is a Lightbox Ventures and India Quotient-backed mobility company that aims to provide office workers who live in urban areas cheap and efficient bus services.
Mumbai-based Cityflo began with a single goal of providing an alternative technologically-based bus service. The tempo traveller buses are priced at office workers only Rs 60 per journey.
“We used the app as well as the technology to make it much easier to book and simple to cancel. It was our initial concept, but after one year, we realized that this model was not viable,” shares Jerin Venad as the CEO and Co-founder of Cityflo in a chat with YourStory.
The feedback from commuters indicated that they are willing to spend more money for better service to ensure that they don’t need to travel in congestion.
“Our mistaken belief was that the people were looking for more convenience than public transport, and incorrectly believed that anyone with a car was satisfied,” he admits.
In order to compete with private cars, Cityflo decided to evolve from being a service for buses to providing premium office travel. It slowly moved away from tempo travelers to luxurious BharatBenz busses.
The app is currently charging Rs 185 for each ride, with this price dropping to a mere 148 rupees with the purchase of a subscription. The app has more than 1 lakh downloads, and an average 4.6 rating on the Google Play Store. It’s also available on iOS.
“Though we’re asset-light We define precisely the kind of service we offer based on our perception of the market and the demand for a different mode of travel, not just a technological solution,” Jerin adds.
He adds that around 80percent of customers are automobile owners.
The company currently is connecting popular residential areas throughout Mumbai. The co-founder of Cityflo says that the company’s routes are determined by many important factors like the locations of high density urban areas and corporate hubs.
Similar to the roads across the United States the journey of the company was not without challenges. Jerin states that providing services that resembled airline service required to be overhauled at all levels, such as the acquisition of buses, vehicles, performance maintenance, driver cleanliness, punctuality and delivering a hassle-free service.
There was however no problem similar to the epidemic. The dependence of the company on office workers led to its operations coming to a halt almost immediately.
“We had all the elements identified by 2020 and therefore, for a business like ours, we did not invent our way out,” he adds.
In the initial three months during which during the initial three months the group of 80 tried to determine the best way forward. After a few weeks, Jerin adds that the startup was optimistic about returning, and was anticipating the beginning of flexible working.
In November of 2020, Cityflo raised Rs 57 crore through a Series A round of funding which was led by Lightbox Ventures and India Quotient that will allow the company to weather the spread of the disease.
Looking forward to the future with optimism The startup took advantage of the time off to focus on improving its quality, training drivers, and to support their efforts by launching a crowdfunding. It also was shrewd about the funds raised since it was intended to be to help grow and not just for just survival.
“We did what we could and took no choice but to cut our pay,” he adds.
After the second wave Cityflo witnessed a swift business rebound. Jerin states that Cityflo has surplus capital. In the first quarter of the year, the company claims to have experienced an increase of three-fold increase in revenue.
“We have started investing into growth, and we’re doing very well,” says Jerin, saying, “We are in a excellent position and focused more on the execution.”
The company, according to him, is growing by 10-15 per month with respect to revenuesand anticipates to achieve profitability within three to six months. It has an annual operating income of 40 crore and is aiming to increase by 10 to 15 percent over 2 years.
The founders were friends from their time at IIT B and graduated the same year. After graduation, and in a brainstorming session the group realized how many of their colleagues complained about the local transportation services in Mumbai.
Then, they decided to create a company in this area and set up Cityflo. They put up an undisclosed sum of their savings, however, they soon secured a seed funding round after three months of operation.
Today, Rushabh heads all business activities, including operations, growth as well as customer service along with business intelligence. In addition, Ankit is responsible for the product and engineering, Jerin is the CEO and Sankalp oversees marketing and brand.
Market and future
Cityflo has raised around R 68 croresince the beginning of its existence. Recently, it was expanded to provide a handful of routes in Delhi as an experiment.
While Jerin says that Delhi is facing similar challenges to Mumbai He also argues that Delhi needs to have buses and more routes since there is a higher demand.
“We are extremely committed to doing this,” he says, noting that the company is working cautiously and slowly in terms of expansion. “We are looking to expand into Delhi since we have seen that there is a similar need all over the world and we could apply our experience there, but we are still in the early stage.”
To improve its performance company, they redesigned their buses with the help of Pinnacle Speciality Vehicles which would be manufactured by the Bharat Benz brand. The new buses – designed to enhance the comfort and efficiency of passengers — are expected to begin operating by the beginning of next year.
Frost &Sullivan’s latest study shows that shared mobility is one of the an opportunity to address India’s growing need of transportation. The company expects the gross product value (GMV) of Indian shared mobility to rise to $42.85 billion before 2027, up from $11.05 billion as of 2021. growing by a compound annual growth of (CAGR) that is 25.3 percent.