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  • Bhavish Aggarwal wants to get very richAshish K. Mishra
    Bhavish Aggarwal wants to get very rich

    Some stories need to be told even if they are buried deep in the annals of history. In this particular case, buried deep in the documents filed by ride-hailing startup Ola and its subsidiaries with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. It is best that we start at the very beginning. 

    The year was 2015, and Ola had just raised a hefty $400 million, a fundraise that could have put most startups to shame. The company, valued at $2.5 billion following this transaction, had some of the biggest names in the world of tech investing on its cap table—from Russian investment firm DST Global and Japan’s SoftBank to American hedge fund Tiger Global and venture capital firm Accel Partners.

    That year, Ola (registered as ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) got a little bolder.
  • The COVID-19 Report: Gig economy, groundedPradip K. Saha
    The COVID-19 Report: Gig economy, groundedWe don’t have a paywall for most of our stories on Coronavirus and its impact. Support us and subscribe here. Rajendra Singh is sitting inside his white Maruti Suzuki Wagon R, his seat reclined and his feet sticking out of the driver-side window. He’s watching a Hindi movie on his mobile phone, half of his face covered by a handkerchief. Every once in a while, he looks up at the device […]
  • Making money from putting four people in a carSaif Iqbal
    Making money from putting four people in a carBengaluruThe drudgery of going to work is a ritual as old as modern, urban life itself. Seen purely from the lens of mobility, human beings have come a long way in the last few hundred years. From horses to carriages to rail to a whole host of inventions aspiring to meet the ever-increasing comforts of the personal office-goer. In India, Ola and Uber and a host of lesser known startups covering pretty much all modes of transport—from buses to two-wheelers—are trying to solve the problem of getting people from point A to B. A man like Deepesh Agarwal, however, thinks here’s a specific problem to solve and profit from. I met Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of MoveInSync Technologies, at his office in Bengaluru’s HSR Layout. Even though it is a 10-year old company, chances are you’ve never heard of it. Unlike its neighbours Udaan, the B2B e-commerce company, and, a fitness startup that combines gyms, food delivery and meditation; both are valued in the billions of dollars. A simple explanation for MoveInSync is that it is a mobility company. It matches its customers—mostly companies looking to get their employees to work—with cabs on predefined routes and timings all converging to a time when an employee is supposed to show up at work. Edited excerpts from our conversation follow:
  • Why customer service is so brokenRoshni P. Nair
    Why customer service is so brokenIt took Harish Kanchan six years, eight lakh rupees and the might of an online forum to not set his car ablaze. Turning his sedan into toast would have been an act of desperation for the tenacious businessman, who’d managed to bring an automobile manufacturer to its knees. But even the best fighters get desperate. If at all he was to lose, Harish thought, he wouldn’t go down quietly. There should never have been a fight in the first place. Harish, who was driving from Mumbai to Nashik 11 years ago, had met with an accident. He was lucky to survive and lucky that the only repairs his car needed were for its undercarriage. But the authorized service centre back home in Mumbai took an excessive amount of time to do the job: first, two weeks, then a month, then 45 days. Harish’s gut told him something was amiss, and it was right, as most gut feelings are. Nearly everything, from the car battery and steering rack to the tie rod and brake disc, had been replaced with rusted counterparts ripped from old cars. The value of the original parts stolen from his vehicle was Rs 4 lakh at the time. Any company with a sliver of integrity would have righted this wrong. But this automobile manufacturer chose the opposite. Harish, betting on alcohol’s knack to make people talk, decided to treat one of the service centre mechanics to drinks. It paid off. “You’ve should’ve taken your car anywhere but there,” the drunk mechanic began. “Service centre waale aur upar ke log sab chor hain (everyone in the service centre—and higher up—is a thief). Armed with incriminating information and pictures of the spurious parts, Harish wrote to the auto manufacturer’s country heads. He marched to their offices, and to consul generals and chambers of commerce. He marched to the district consumer forum, which ordered a restoration of the original car parts. But the carmaker, steadfast in its shamelessness, contested the ruling. The case went into limbo. Harish approached an online forum and the media for help. A subsequent boycott by 70,000 forum members and unflattering print coverage forced the conglomerate to settle. “I’d spent lakhs on the fight by then, and would’ve burnt my car on national television if nothing else worked. It was the only move I had left,” Harish recalls.
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