App based taxi hailing services such as Uber and Ola have inspired many to start similar services of their own, among them some taxi driver unions who are planning to launch their own apps.
The latest to climb on to the app bandwagon is Chennai's famous auto-driver Anna Durai, also known as 'Auto Anna'. Known for stocking his WiFi enabled auto with newspapers, magazines, and gadgets such as a tablet, the auto driver now doubles as a motivational speaker giving regular talks on entrepreneurship and is quite active in social media.
As reported in the Hindu, Anna Durai is designing an auto-ride app with the help of a team of five people, which will have differentiating features such as a ready-meal service for riders catching the train. "Customers using this app will be charged as per metre for the ride. You may ask what's new about this. My model will be different," the 32-year-old rickshaw driver told the Hindu.
Anna Durai plans to launch the app in Chennai and is spreading the word among fellow auto-drivers in the city to get them on board. His team is exploring possible features and marketing aspects of the app.
Sameer Fa from the development team talked to HuffPost India and he said that there would be many not-seen-before features in the app.
"We will allow users to order food from a restaurant near the drop point. So when they reach the destination they will get their food. We would also have a small quiz on the app during the ride. If the customer gets all the answers right she gets a gift. We are focusing on customer experience," he said.
Right now the team has managed to rope in around 40 auto drivers to come on board. All the rickshaws will have WiFi access, newspapers, and magazines.
"I'm looking at word-of-mouth [for marketing the app] and social media marketing. The market is huge in Chennai, and not many look at this as a career-option. My aim is to make this a career for many," said Anna Durai, who runs his own website as well.
The savvy auto-driver has always had a PoS machine in his auto to accommodate card payments. After the demonetisation announcement, he began to accept digital wallet transactions. He said that 90 percent of his earnings were paid by digital means.