Mobility company IntrCity by RailYatri on Monday announced a funding round of over Rs 100 crore led by Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder and non-executive Chairman of Infosys. Other investors who participated in the funding round include Samsung Venture Investment, Omidyar Network and Blume Ventures.
The funding sets the tone for the rest of the year - mobility is a keenly watched area by investors and is rife for disruption.
IntrCity RailYatri has scaled fast. According to a statement by Kapil Raizada, the company's co-Founder, IntrCity RailYatri has grown over 500 per cent over the last year with the entire growth costs met from its internal revenue generation. The firm is now projecting 300 per cent growth over next three years.
The company began just as RailYatri in 2014. It was mostly a railway information website to begin with. From information, it became a transactions platform that helped with train tickets and food on trains. Bus bookings came next, and now 'smart buses'. The smart buses came with a new brand, Intrcity. In its smart bus model, the company follows an OYO model - while IntrCity RailYatri is responsible for customer acquisition and owns the experience, it doesn't own the asset.
The company stated that it currently runs a fleet of 84 smart buses across 18 hubs, covering 65 destinations and serves 400,000 travelers per month. "The latest investments will help us further expand our IntrCity SmartBus network and enhance our tech platform. We intend to expand our SmartBus fleet to 300 from the current 84 over the next few months and are on track for a managed fleet of 2000 by 2022," the company stated.
Business Today caught up with Manish Rathi, co-Founder of the company late last year. The idea behind the diversification, said Rathi, was simple. Around 50 million people in India travel daily and there aren't enough berths in trains to accommodate these many. By providing an experience closer to trains, more people can opt for buses for their inter-city journey, in the future.
Here's how the company, which had a revenue run rate of $7 million in 2019, is changing the bus experience: For commuters, there is Wi-Fi. But tech goes beyond this. The buses in Intrcity's network are tracked at a command centre. The speed of the bus is one parameter that is monitored. There are experiments to figure out whether the driver is drowsy - sensors collect bits of information and communicate it back to the command centre. Beyond technology, smart buses have toilets. That makes passengers more comfortable in opting for buses when it comes to long-haul journeys. Buses, traditionally, were inconvenient particularly to senior citizens.
The company is also investing in cool waiting lounges: Intrcity's lounges look more like co-working centres. "The lounge service sounds like it's a luxury centre but that is not the intent. We are trying to create a place where a working professional will not mind spending two hours, like in an airport. It is Wi-Fi enabled," Rathi told Business Today.