The use of car ownership alternatives such as ride sharing, car sharing, and carpooling is increasing. New startups are emerging to better meet the needs of frequent travellers in our often congested and traffic-filled cities. One such startup is Zify, India’s second largest carpooling service. Recently made available in Europe, Zify connects car owners with people looking to carpool. The startup provides its users with many benefits: the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint, meet their neighbors, reduce traffic congestion in their cities, and save money. We sat down with Zify Founder Anurag Rathor to learn about why he and his team decided to take Zify to Europe and how Zify differentiates itself from other mobility applications.
What is Zify’s current mission?
Our goal is to use cars in the most optimal way, and save tons of carbon emissions in the process. If there are four seats in a car, all four should be filled. There are many car sharing and ride sharing companies out there; however, just because a car is being used more often or transporting more people does not mean that its utility is being maximized. We want to position carpooling as a complimentary solution for car sharing and ride sharing companies.
Why did you decide to expand to Europe?
The European market is more mature than the Indian market, even though the Indian market is very large and has a lot of potential. So much innovation is happening in the European automotive industry. Everyone is thinking about linking transportation and sustainability; people are very environmentally conscious in Europe, more so than in India. The automotive industry in Europe is heavily investing in sustainable transportation innovations, and carpooling is perfectly positioned to combine transportation and sustainability. Coming to Europe gives us access to a larger market and a larger group of investors. It is easier to partner with companies here because they are already investing in smart transportation, and are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and make society even more cohesive, collaborative and engaged.
How did your approach differ when launching your startup in India and in Europe?
Car culture is very different and has greatly affected our strategy. In India, a car is a matter of pride and an indicator of status in society. Your wealth and success is measured by the size and brand of your car. It is difficult to convince people to share something that they worship, and vehicle ownership is still very limited. Here in Europe people just want to travel. Most Europeans own a car and it is prevalently regarded as a simple commodity.
We also shifted our target audience. In Europe, we target companies instead of directly reaching out to individuals. It is more cost and time efficient; we can reach hundreds of people simply by talking to one company.
Watch Anurag’s story above.
How does Zify appeal to European companies?
Big companies are often located in the outskirts of cities and are not always well connected to public transportation. As a result, people often have to drive on congested roads to reach their workplace. Not only do long commutes affect your personal life and well-being, they also affect your professional life. Companies tend to lose a lot of employee productivity due to lateness, commuter fatigue or absenteeism. We provide ‘Carpool-as-a-Service’ solutions to organizations in order for them to maximize their employees’ productivity and reach their sustainability goals.
What differentiates Zify from other carpooling applications and how is it better positioned for success?
People have unfortunately heard more about carpooling failures than successes. We’ve identified the problem as being not only a technical one but also a human problem. For an application to succeed, it has to become part of people’s daily life. We’ve made Zify a very human-centric application by giving more information to our users and removing the anxieties tied to carpooling. We have simplified the payment and pickup processes to make them as stress free and time-efficient as possible. We set the fare and determine the common meeting point. In addition, our service is more instant and automated than that of other applications. It is not necessary to stick to a strict schedule or organize a trip very far in advance.
What is your vision for Zify’s future?
While people are becoming more connected through technology, they are becoming more and more isolated and lonely in reality and their morning commute contributes to this phenomenon. It is impossible to prevent traffic jams, but what we can do is make more enjoyable and communicative the time that people spend in traffic. We do this thanks to our ‘compatibility meter’, an indicator of like-mindedness between a car owner and a passenger. We match travellers and commuters based on their social preferences, which kind of music they like, what books they’ve read, which industry they work for, etc. Carpooling can help people become more engaged in their lives and make valuable connections. We’ve even seen instances where people discovered a job opportunity thanks to someone with whom they carpooled. We want to frame Zify not only as a carpooling service but also as an offline social network.
A decade ago, people began carpooling to save money and minimize the stress related to driving. It is rapidly becoming a trend capable of fighting global warming and facilitating real life connections. Companies and startups like Zify that have the drive to reinvent the way people travel and commute are powering a new and multi-modal approach to personal transportation.
Learn more about Zify here and see Zify pitch at Startupbootcamp Smart Transportation & Energy Demo Day in Berlin on November 24th.