Standardizing India's rickshaws

mobi gauto
G-Auto founder Nirmal Kumar is bringing order to India's chaotic auto rickshaw industry
  • Startup: G-Auto
  • From: Ahmedabad, India
  • Award: Grand MobiPrize winner

There are millions of auto rickshaw drivers in India, but many are notoriously corrupt with wildly inconsistent pricing.

"When you hire an [auto] rickshaw, you'd never know what they'll charge," said entrepreneur Nirmal Kumar.

So in 2009, he launched G-Auto to professionalize the industry and hold drivers accountable.

G-Auto ensures drivers always charge a standard fare (unlike independent drivers) and lets passengers reserve a rickshaw in advance. Passengers pay a facility fee (which goes to G-Auto), plus the fare, which drivers keep.

Kumar started with just 15 drivers in Ahmedabad. Today, the business is profitable; he has 15,000 drivers in five cities and 32 full-time employees. (There are big incentives to joining G-Auto: Kumar offers accident and life insurance to all his drivers.)

Kumar won the Grand MobiPrize, sponsored by Ford (F) and Takata, and plans to use the $15,000 prize to help expand his network to include 100,000 drivers.

"We want to be in 100 cities in the next five years," said Kumar.

First published November 4, 2014: 3:19 PM ET

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