Before there was an Ola or Uber, there was Auto Raja, Chennai’s first autorikshaw aggregator service. However unable to compete with the bigger, if newer players like Ola and Uber, in a highly competitive and valuation led market, Auto Raja to shut shop soon.
A three-year-old startup, AutoRaja had 800 drivers on its platform, although it was able to provide leads regularly to only about 100 of them. AutoRaja, entirely owned by the two founders, had received a seed fund of Rs 16.5 lakh ($25,000) from the Shell Foundation. However, the company was unable to raise further rounds, and staying profitable in a nascent industry with wafer thin margins was near impossible. The founders Aishwarya Raman and Anubhav Agarwal will join Ola, leading the Ola auto arm, while the autos registered with Auto Raja will be absorbed by Ola, making this an unpaid acquisition of sorts.
Auto Raja had gained a lot of popularity in the home turf Chennai given the notorious reputation of the local auto mafia in the city. Their various social media activations and a partnership with Google during an event helped them capture a huge brand recall too. However, the company’s business had been dwindling for a while, and the writing was all over its recently inactive social media page.
The app led urban transport industry in India is dominated by players like Ola and Uber both of which other than their signature cab-hailing services, have also forayed into ride sharing, car pools, autos and shuttle as in the case of Ola. A lot more consolidation is expected to happen in the profit-thin, but growing commute tech market.