Beyond the Ride: Unveiling the Secrets of Namma Yatri's Success

Beyond the Ride: Unveiling the Secrets of Namma Yatri's Success

Discover How a Driver-Centric Approach and Open-Source Innovation Revolutionized Ride-Hailing in Bengaluru

Hey everyone!

In this blog, we're diving into an inspiring story I discovered at the recent GitHub Constellation event in Bengaluru. It's all about Namma Yatri, a groundbreaking ride-booking app for auto-rickshaw drivers that's making waves with its open-source platform.

I'm excited to share the hidden secrets behind Namma Yatri's success and how they're making waves in the ride-hailing industry.

Namma Yatri, which translates to "Our Commuter" in Kannada, started in Bengaluru as a challenger to traditional ride-hailing giants. Launched in late 2022, it aimed to disrupt the mobility landscape with a unique approach.

Someone has said every problem is an opportunity to build something, we just have to look at that problem from a different angle.

Let's dive into this story to reveal what Namma Yatri is so different from others.

Do you know Bangalore's favourite tussle ??

Forget Bangalore traffic! Bangalore's real daily tussle is the morning and evening commute. We all become experts at booking rides, hoping against cancellation with phrases like "Bhaiya aa rahe ho na?" (Hindi for "Coming, brother?") and "Anna barthera" (Kannada for "Please wait, brother").

It's a frustrating cycle: customers blame drivers, drivers blame apps, and apps blame companies. But shouldn't the focus be on the customer?

For years, the approach has been the same. What if there was a different way? Namma Yatri aims to be a marketplace or driver-centric app that puts the driver first.

Namma Yatri: A Driver-Centric Revolution

Namma Yatri's inspiration comes from a simple idea: put the driver first. They recognized the struggles auto-rickshaw drivers faced and wanted to create a solution that addressed them directly.

This journey began when an auto rickshaw association approached Juspay, impressed by their successful Yatri taxi driver app in Kochi. But instead of diving headfirst into a solution, the Namma Yatri team took a crucial step. They rode alongside auto-rickshaw drivers, experiencing the booking process, the ride itself, and how drivers earn money firsthand. This immersive approach allowed them to identify the gaps in service from the driver's perspective, something traditional user-centric apps often miss.

The Lesson: Unconventional Thinking for Real Solutions

Namma Yatri's story teaches us a valuable lesson: problem-solving requires a fresh perspective. Don't always rely on traditional methods. Whether you're building a product for drivers or passengers, put yourself in their shoes and understand their challenges. Before jumping into solutions, go out into the field and gain a deeper understanding of the real problems.

This approach leads to better products and, ultimately, a better experience for everyone involved.

In August 2022 they launched the Namma Yatri app in pilot mode with 100 drivers. In October 2022 other ride hailing apps were banned by court to streamline pricing policy. The Namma yatri team leveraged this as an opportunity to launch Namma yatri publicly. In November 2022 they launched publicly and people started using it as an alternative to banned apps.

This is exactly what happened: the Indian government banned notes of 500 and 1000 and Paytm grabbed this opportunity.

You should be ready to grab opportunities you should be available at the right time on right place. That is what Namma Yatri did.

Namma Yatri: Seizing the Moment

After a successful pilot launch with 100 drivers in August 2022, Namma Yatri was poised for growth. Then, in October, a court ruling banning other ride-hailing apps due to pricing concerns presented a unique opportunity. The Namma Yatri team, prepared and with a driver-centric solution, saw a chance to make a real difference.

Just like Paytm's rise following the demonetization of high-value notes in India, Namma Yatri capitalised on a critical moment. By launching publicly in November 2022, they offered a reliable alternative to the banned apps and quickly gained traction with frustrated commuters.

This highlights the importance of being ready to seize opportunities. Namma Yatri's foresight and adaptability positioned them perfectly to address a sudden market shift, ultimately benefiting both drivers and passengers.

Namma Yatri: Building Together

Namma Yatri throws out the traditional rulebook when it comes to product development. They embrace a concept called "participatory design," which means all stakeholders, including drivers (the end users), have a voice in shaping the app. This goes against the grain of the typical method where a few people dictate ideas and build them in isolation.

The Juspay team prioritises the users, drivers or passengers, over simply focusing on cutting-edge technology. They regularly invite drivers to their office to hear their experiences and understand their pain points. This approach fosters a sense of ownership among drivers; they feel like Namma Yatri is truly their app. The importance of this connection will be explored later, but for now, let's just say it's a source of pride for both drivers and the Namma Yatri team.

Namma Yatri: The Power of Advocacy

Forget expensive marketing campaigns! Namma Yatri leverages a powerful tool: driver and passenger loyalty. By prioritising driver needs, they've created a sense of ownership. Drivers see Namma Yatri as their app, not just another platform.

This translates into a unique marketing strategy: word-of-mouth promotion. Drivers become brand ambassadors, putting up posters and recommending the app to passengers. Passengers, impressed by the service and driver satisfaction, spread the word further. It's a win-win cycle, similar to the organic growth of social media giants like Facebook and Instagram.

Namma Yatri fills another crucial gap for drivers: flexible payment options. Unlike traditional apps that primarily focus on online payments, Namma Yatri allows payment on delivery (payment after ride ends) or payment through Paytm and UPI. This eliminates the hassle of waiting for online payments to clear and empowers drivers to manage their finances more easily. This convenience is another reason drivers actively promote the app – a happy driver is a loyal driver! So the cancellation rate has dropped drastically.

The story doesn't end there. Namma Yatri's success can be further illustrated by an anecdote from a GitHub event. The CEO mentioned a driver association in Tumkur that independently adopted Namma Yatri, leading to an impressive 1000 daily rides! This exemplifies the power of community ownership and how a focus on user needs can fuel organic growth.

Namma Yatri: Building Smart, Building Affordable

The Namma Yatri team serves as a masterclass in building a cost-effective tech product. They champion a subscription model – drivers pay a flat fee of ₹25 per day for unlimited rides. For a driver earning ₹1500 daily, this translates to a minimal investment with the potential for higher profits.

But is this margin enough to sustain Namma Yatri? Here's where their focus on cost optimization shines. From day one, minimising expenses was a core principle. This aligns with Dr. Werner Vogels' (Amazon CTO) philosophy of frugality in architecture, where cost is a crucial design consideration.

Breaking Down the Costs:

  • Team Cost: Namma Yatri adopted the "two-pizza team" rule popularised by Jeff Bezos. This keeps teams small, fostering agility and reducing overhead.

  • Maps Cost: Instead of relying on expensive options like Google Maps, Namma Yatri leverages Open Street Map, a free and open-source alternative.

  • Marketing Cost: As discussed earlier, word-of-mouth promotion significantly reduces marketing expenses.

  • Server Cost: This is an unavoidable expense, but Namma Yatri likely utilises cloud-based solutions for scalability and cost management.

  • The Power of Smart Choices

By making strategic decisions about team size, technology, and marketing, Namma Yatri demonstrates that building a successful product doesn't require exorbitant spending. Their focus on cost optimization allows them to offer a low-cost solution for drivers while ensuring their own sustainability.

Open Source for Trust and Innovation

Namma Yatri stands out by being built on open-ource software. This means anyone can see and understand the code behind the app, fostering trust with both drivers and riders. Here's how it benefits everyone:

  • Transparency: Open-source code allows for public scrutiny, building trust in the platform's fairness and security.

  • Collaboration: Developers worldwide can contribute to improve and expand the platform, leading to faster innovation.

  • Scalability: The open-source model makes it easier to adapt Namma Yatri's code for use in other cities, promoting its wider adoption, as seen with Kolkata adopting it for a similar service.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: By having an open codebase, Namma Yatri can maintain a lean development team, allowing them to manage costs efficiently. Additionally, the open source nature prevents Juspay (the founder company) from imposing a commission fee in the future, as anyone could create a competing service with the same zero-commission model. This ultimately benefits both drivers (who earn more) and riders (who pay less).

Open Data for Trust

Namma Yatri goes a step further with open data. Their website (nammayatri.in/open) allows anyone to view various statistics like total driver earnings, completed rides, and service areas. This open data approach fosters trust by providing transparency into the platform's operations.

Here is Namma Yatri github repository

Conclusion

Namma Yatri's journey is a testament to the power of innovative thinking, community involvement, and strategic decision-making. By putting drivers first, embracing open-source principles, and seizing opportune moments, Namma Yatri has disrupted the traditional ride-hailing industry in Bengaluru. Their success story not only highlights the importance of understanding user needs but also shows how cost-effective solutions and participatory design can lead to sustainable growth. As Namma Yatri continues to evolve, it stands as a model for future tech ventures aiming to make a meaningful impact in their communities.

This case study is purely based on my learning at Github Consellation event story shared by CEO of Namma Yatri Magizhan Selvan (Mags) ( Ex CPO at Juspay ) and research article shared by The India Notes.

If you find interesting case study to build product or startup feel free to share with your friends

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