Start-ups Score Big with Kejriwal's Odd-Even Initiative

The 'Odd-Even' traffic rule imposed by the Delhi Government to battle the level of pollution in the city witnessed a plethora of start-up activity.

The ‘Odd-Even’ traffic rule imposed by the Delhi Government to battle the level of pollution in the city witnessed a plethora of start-up activity, in areas such as ridesharing (carpooling), health and wellness, and taxi aggregation services.
Start-ups, More Even than Odd
While start-ups are busy trying to find ways to solve the problem – some even partnering to offer services– malls are all desperate as sales are big time down. Recently, mobile goods and services company Paytm partnered with Jugnoo, an online aggregator for auto rickshaws, to offer Delhi commuters cashback offers. “Paytm’s strategic association with Jugnoo will motivate the commuters to leave their private vehicles and opt for alternatives,” said Kiran Vasireddy, senior vice-president, Paytm, adding that the customers are entitled to get a 100 per cent cashback on their first ride.
“Given that Delhi’s pollution has gone up 7-fold in just a few months, we hope that such measures play a vital role in curbing these levels,” said Samar Singla, founder and chief executive of Jugnoo.
Jay Kannaiyan, India Head, Smart Air Filters believes that if not anything, the odd-even rule would have helped raise awareness of the impacts of air pollutants affecting human health. “Earlier, we used to sell 1-2 masks everyday, but today we are doing about 20 masks and Smart Air DIY Air Purifiers everyday,” Kannaiyan told Retailer. Smart Air Filters produces products that remove particulate pollution from the air in homes.
App’ing the Benefits
Ridesharing (or carpooling) is a mechanism for people to be able to travel by better using existing assets, i.e. empty seats in existing private cars. This was a very useful solution during the odd-even license plate experiment.
“During these 15 days of the odd-even rule, we saw a 50 per cent increase in app downloads. The response indicated that our users made the most out of our platform. With features like ‘Lift’ and ‘Carpool’ we’ve been jubilant in assisting them to commute without hassles,” said Kunal Kishore Sinha. He is the founder of FrndiNeed, a socially enabled app helping consumers find friends and take lifts.
“BlaBlaCar has seen a 66 per cent growth in the number of seats available in Delhi-NCR from Dec 31st week to Jan 4th week. The biggest growth was for trips between Delhi-NOIDA (400 per cent), and Delhi-Gurgaon (150 per cent). There were 20-25 thousand seats that were available across Delhi NCR in the last week of December,” explained Raghav Gupta, India Country Manager, BlaBlaCar, a ridesharing platform.
Helpchat, a personal assistant app based out of Bengaluru, recently launched a feature that monitors the air in the surrounding environment and delivers an update via a mobile app. “The app download shot up by 3 times. If the app senses air quality getting below a safe point, it will alert the user and also suggests the areas one should avoid visiting in the city,”
It’s been interesting to note that the odd-even rationing has also affected the footfalls at the mall, albeit negatively. An expert who spoke at the condition of anonymity stated that there is a huge decline in the number of cars entering the malls when compared to last year, and therefore the malls are offering free parking space to customers. “We have had shoppers visiting the mall as usual without any drop in footfall numbers,” countered Benu Sehgal, Sr VP, Mall Management at DLF Place, Saket in an e-mail reply, adding that details of odd-even parking campaign not confirmed hence cannot be shared.
In summary, as retail trade and odd-even rationing may not be opposite ends on a single continuum, it is the Internet start-ups that are hogging the limelight.   

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