Bibek Shrestha is one of the co-founders of Moove, a ride sharing platform that is solely interested in reducing traffic congestion in Kathmandu and plans to go pan-Nepal. The platform allows people moving from any two points to travel together through any means, whether it may be walking, private vehicles or public transport. Through the platform, both the riders and drivers receive rewards for shared rides. The goal of the company is to help coordinate carpooling in a safe and organized manner. The companies that are providing the rewards for using the platform are affiliated with Moove and gain publicity through the platform. It is a simple and elegant potential solution to Kathmandu’s heavy traffic issue.
Continue reading to see what Mr. Shrestha has to say about Moove and other projects.
1. Could you give us a general idea of your idea and organization? Moove is meant to be a community-based ride sharing platform. It isn’t focused on a single type of transport but can incorporate any mode of transport, even walking. The idea is to increase ride sharing and incentivize it without directly paying people like other ride sharing apps do. The goal is purely to help improve the heavy traffic congestion in an environment-friendly way. After the Indian blockade, there was the “Kathmandu Carpool” group on Facebook which was similar to hitchhiking. We wanted to do the same thing but in a structured way. The users wouldn’t have to pay anything, instead, they would receive rewards and recognition for using the platform. Additionally, if you’re taking a taxi and there are other people who want to go in a similar direction, you can share the ride with them. However, the decision is up to you, you can choose whether or not to share the ride. If you do share the ride, you can split the cost amongst yourselves.
We are a team of three as of now, myself being a banking professional, Bikal Shrestha is a telecom professional based in Nepal and Bishow Shrestha is a full stack developer based in Australia. Moove is still in the development stage, apart from website and mobile application, Progressive Web Application (PWA) is also on the card. Having a PWA means you don’t have to download the app but you get all the app features on the webpage and it’s available on your browser. We’re still in the research phase and we’re taking our time with it because we want to release a finished product.
2. What are your company’s major challenges?
At the Smart Urban Tech Challenge, we had our MVP but the fact that we had jobs was apparently indicative of a lack of required commitment to our side projects. However, having jobs and other commitments certainly doesn’t mean we aren’t dedicated to our projects, especially in the early phases.
We’re also doing all the work to develop and promote the application ourselves. If we were to ask a third-party developer to build the app for us, it would cost us four times the actual charges. There’s a lot of other crucial costs that can’t be avoided, but having skilled manpower on board helps us avoid that expense. So it’s a lot of work to balance with our jobs, but we can do it.
3. When will this be available? Are you working on other ideas?
We’ll definitely launch this product by 2020. We also have interests in food-tech, hyper-local space and online merchandising. We started with a project called “Fake It Nepal” which is similar to “The Onion” in the U.S. It is themed with sarcastic-journalism and is probably the one and only platform in Nepal, we have a website and an app too with about 70+ articles. It is a humorous satirical news platform. We have 1000 views on average per article.
4. How will your app compete with the other ride-sharing apps?
I think we have some benefits that the apps right now don’t offer. “Payment less” rides itself is a big one. We reward both the driver and the rider for using the application. We also don’t have to deal with the legal issues that come with other applications because we’re not taking any commission for the rides so we’re not liable for potential violations of the law of the land. Moove is inspired from the business models which exist in US and European markets. Apps like Uber take 20 to 30% commission on each ride and have faced several allegations on many facets.
5. What measures will you take for user safety?
We will still take measures for that too. There will be features that allow you to inform people if you don’t feel safe. We plan on keeping detailed records of all the users who register to use the app. We want to provide insurance for the users as well as other benefits so the paperwork is going to be thorough. We’ll have the detailed KYC of the users.
6. What is the revenue structure of the company?
We plan on having a few partners who will sponsor the rewards that also proceed to promote their brand. Users can claim the reward at registered merchants. We’re not going to associate with the cost of the trip, or any sort of financial exchange during the trip. Taxis can have their passengers and charge them what their standard fare is without our interference. The idea is to coordinate shared rides and reduce the thousands of empty seats in traffic every day. One of the revenue verticals is consented and targeted advertising.
7. How long have you been working on this project for?
We’ve been researching this idea since 2014. Before that I received my education in Bangalore which was a great experience and a great opportunity for networking as well. I came back to Nepal and felt that both places had a very similar demographic structure. However, Nepal has a lot of development left in terms of the internet and technology. I think it’s a matter of trust because in economies and societies where people are always cautious, startups typically don’t do so well. With Moove, we’re trying to be socially impactful over the profit orientation, we’re mostly interested in making a difference.
8. What are your future plans for the organization?
A lot of resources will be going towards the organization once it starts. Since it’s a social venture, contribution will be more essential than the investment and hopefully others decide to contribute as well financially as well as with man-hours. Moove will have a feature that allows you to donate to registered NGOs/INGOs in Nepal. We’re also hoping to measure and display the environmental benefits of the ride on the app. So, if I could include both these features as well, using Moove for ride sharing would be equivalent to volunteering. If you don’t have the time to do something like working at an old age home or something similar, this is an easy way to consistently keep contributing to the community. Affiliating with this app and contributing to various charities and environmental causes can also be a way for companies to fulfill their Corporate Social Responsibility.
9. What are some important things to know as an entrepreneur?
I believe team selection is crucial and entrepreneurship is not a one-man game. People who are compatible in personal relationships may not have the same dynamic in a professional capacity and same works the other way around. There’s also a matter of commitment from the other members. Another important component is getting feedback from people i.e. your potential customers or users and other professionals on your idea. You might think your idea is the best but you need real and honest feedback from other people too. It’s better to take it slow when starting out and then decide you want to change your mind than realizing it later down the line when you’ve invested a lot into it. If it isn’t working sometimes, it’s better to just stop investing more into it. People also have a tendency to give into a herd mentality but it’s better to focus on what you like to do. Lastly, do your homework, work hard, manage your time effectively and make sure the problem is being solved. If you focus on solving the problem, all the other issues will take care of themselves.
For more information about Moove, please contact Bibek Shrestha at email@example.com.
Interviewed and article by Jyotika Shah.