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Rebranding the kaali-peelis

Brothers Tarun and Varun Kodnani hope that Cabzo — the application-based taxi service they launched two months ago — will benefit both passengers and drivers

How often have we hailed a taxi and chatted away with the driver to while away the time? Very often. But when brothers Tarun and Varun Kodnani started chatting with taxi drivers two years ago, it was to understand the fundamental issues they face on a daily basis.

Brothers Tarun and Varun Kodnani
Brothers Tarun and Varun Kodnani 

"They had many reasons for refusing passengers, including not getting passengers for the return journey," says Tarun, 23, MEng Computer Science from University College London and the older of the two. But the brothers weren't asking these questions for fun, but to develop Cabzo, an application-based taxi service, which connects the black and yellow cabs of Mumbai with customers using their on-demand algorithm on a smartphone.

Using their Android and Apple phones, customers can select their pickup and drop location, choose from possible rides and even select a driver of their choice on the basis of estimated time of arrival of the taxi, driver profile and car information, including car make, model and AC/non-AC options. Since its soft launch in July last year and a formal launch two months ago, Cabzo has managed to get 500 cabs registered with them. Explaining the procedure for registering the driver, Varun, 21, and armed with a BEng Computer Science from University of Warwick, UK, says that they are very strict when it comes to registering the drivers.

The mobile app, Cabzo
The mobile app, Cabzo 

"We have asked them to go strictly by meter. We have a copy of all their official documents and they know they are being tracked each and every minute, and need to be on their best behaviour with the passengers," he says. At the end of the journey, the passenger gets to rate the driver, which is displayed on the application as his star ratings.
"We believe the power to choose should lie with the passenger and so, the drivers are informed about the rating system. They know that if they don't behave well, then the negative rating will reflect on the system," says Tarun.

The kaali-peelis don't have a great reputation, and the Kodnanis hope Cabzo will be able to rebrand the taxi service. "The black-and-yellow taxis are something people use on a daily basis. If people get the convenience of a pickup service from their destination at a lesser cost, and drivers benifit from the assured fare, it is a win-win situation for all," says Tarun, adding that they hope to take the application to the rest of India and then, to several countries abroad as well.

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