Sameer Khanna has done his Masters in IT and Telecom from Delhi University, and has worked with multi-billion dollar companies like Ericsson and Huawei for 10 years. He has got several awards to his name including Employee of the Year – Asia Pacific, out of 80 thousand employees in Huawei and youngest senior manager in Ericsson. Sameer is a complete believer of the saying – ‘An idea can change your life’. Always believed that there are simple ways to solve complex problems; and his start-up FolksVagn is a similar story, which is a community-based commuting system that helps you share your travel with friends, colleagues or other like-minded people.
Sameer Khanna, in an exclusive conversation with LifeBeyondNumbers, shares his journey with FolksVagn so far, and much more…
Inception of FolksVagn
70% people in the top 100 metros name commuting to be their biggest stress. Traffic, pollution, haggling, road-rage, fuel cost and the chaos of daily commuting affect all of us today. We decided to do something about it. After several months of research and talking to thousands of people, we decided that sharing is the only way to handle these problems. But sharing needs to be practical, else it just increases the frustration and causes more pain. Hence we designed FolksVagn, scratch up, to be a practically usable system for sharing car-rides. We know traditional car-pooling does not work. It has flexibility issues, messy cash exchange and dependency on individuals. But if car-pooling is done at a community level, where you have hundreds of people to choose from, per ride, and the payments are seamless, then sharing works.
What is FolksVagn?
FolksVagn is a dynamic car-sharing system that helps people share car-rides to office and back home. It’s a flexible dynamic system, that allows you to travel as a driver or a passenger at any time you wish to leave from home to office or from office to home. Passengers pay and drivers get money to use the system. Membership is free. Today we have more than 10,000 members in Delhi and NCR. Thousands of people have used the system and continue to use it daily, or whenever they wish. We have shared over 100,000 kms till now. We have a team of 12 in all out of which 50% people on direct payroll and the rest work as consultants. We have got advisors in India and abroad. Currently, we are totally self funded and now are open for funding options.
As I mentioned, with over 10,000 members in Delhi and NCR who have used the system and continue to use it, we have shared over 100,000 kms till now. Reduced over 20,000 kgs of CO2. We are active in Delhi and NCR and will be launching in Bangalore soon. We are also working with over 10 corporates, and will be launching a formal plan with a 2000 plus employee company soon.
Safety has always been a key concern in today’s time. We have worked out a system that can give you a free mind to go ahead and avail the services.
At times, for most of us, it’s not that comfortable to ask for the payment after a ride from a fellow rider whom we have met for the first time. Folksvagn understands your pain and have designed a secure, cashless and pre-paid payment system as well.
Challenges and Learning
FolksVagn has been one of the best decisions so far. And one of the toughest to follow up as well. From a comfortable job in a huge MNC to a start-up is a world of difference. Sustaining, expanding and getting better is a daily battle.
I think that if you have a dream, just go for it. Only make sure you can sustain a basic family living for 1000 days without inflows. Dream big and work hard to get there.
The Way Ahead
FolksVagn aims to be the biggest ride sharing system of India this year. In the next 2 years we want to be the biggest ride-sharing company of Asia. And the biggest and best way to reduce traffic, pollution, fuel consumption and increase the efficiency of each car ride. Most importantly, a success story for ideas where community collaboration can achieve unforeseen and unimagined milestones. Hopefully a lot more people will then start and deploy solutions that use community collaboration to solve real life problems.
Go! Book your first FolksVagn community ride now. And all those who have already experienced the awesomeness, share your experience below if you think it’s a real value add to reduce the everyday travel trauma.