Dhaka's roads are infamous for their chaos. Reckless rickshaws, daredevil bikers, and unruly buses are a nightmare for the commuters. Three friends tried to make sense of the madness and ended up creating a mass mobility service startup three years ago, aiming to simplify transportation in the capital.
Tapping technology, the mobility startup uses fewer vehicles to move more people -- particularly women and students -- conveniently from one part of the city to another. Launched in 2018, Shuttle has since expanded broadly and added 'Shuttle for Business' and 'Rental Services'. Besides, the company has also raised funds for future expansion.
How it all started
Shuttle was founded by Reyasat Chowdhury, Jawwad Jahangir, and Shah Sufian. The journey of Shuttle started by addressing the women's daily commuting problem. The overpopulated city does not even have a safe mass transportation system for women. Addressing this problem, Jawwad and Reyasat thought of making a change to the city's transportation system, which will also make a positive impact on society.
And in 2018, Shuttle started its journey on Dhaka's roads with two microbuses on July 15. It was initially launched for ferrying university students.
Investment is the core element to run a business or service, and it is very critical for any startup in its early stages. But Shuttle got lucky, and it received a considerable amount of investment from Robi through their r-Ventures programme.
Initially, they have started 'Shuttle for Women' service, focusing on the corporate women and university-going students. However, the company faced challenges in the first months of its service. Initially, gaining trust was highly challenging as they were working with a specific market segment. But, the founders were able to come up with a proper execution plan and that helped in establishing the brand.
Although the company started as a women-centric transportation provider, they have introduced two more services in their product line. Let's get to know each of them.
Shuttle for Women
As we have mentioned earlier, it was the primary service. Shuttle for Women currently serves seven routes in Dhaka -- Dhanmondi to Rampura, Mirpur to Bashundhara, Mirpur/Mohammadpur to Gulshan, Mohammadpur to Bashundhara, Uttara to Bashundhara, Uttara to Gulshan-1, and Dhanmondi to Bashundhara. The fare starts from Tk 80 a ride. The service starts early in the morning and runs till late at night.
Shuttle for Business
Many companies provide their own transportation for their employees. Therefore, they need to maintain a different department for that. To eliminate this need, Shuttle started 'Shuttle for Business.' It is a corporate pick-and-drop service for companies with customised routes.
Suttle for Business provides service through a special app for businesses. Moreover, the 24/7 hotline support also helps to solve any problem. The app also has a real-time dashboard for human resources. Most importantly, late-night pooling can help an organisation to drop off their employees after dark to different areas through the shared transport facility.
This is a new addition to the service. It works like a traditional car rental service but in a digital way. You can book a car for your trip early from four different vehicle types, including Hiace, Noah, Sedan, and Coaster. The company promises to get you the best price in the town. Besides, you can make the payment online and go anywhere in Bangladesh. The trained driver ensures the safety of the tour.
How Does the Shuttle Work?
The working procedure is simple, like a piece of cake. Depending on the service, you can book your ride via the website or the app available for both Android and iPhone. For the Shuttle for Women service, you will need to select the route and choose your time for the ride from the time listed. However, if you are an organisation and looking to offer a ride to your employees, you can contact Shuttle directly and or even register through the website and get your customized route.
Currently, they have two different apps to offer their service. One app is for the registered users, and the other app is used by trip managers. Using the app, customers can book riders, track vehicles, and know the approximate time of arrival along with the trip manager's information.
Shuttle offers air-conditioned micro-buses where around 10 people can commute together. Overall, Shuttle operates on 10 routes in Dhaka city and provides service to more than 30,000 users.
Current Situation of the Company
Shuttle is growing, and recently it has managed to raise $750,000 in a seed round. Impact Collective (The Ventures, South Korea), Robi Axiata Limited (r-ventures), and Bangladesh Angels Network (BAN) participated in the seed round. Apart from these investors, Foodpanda Bangladesh's Co-founder & Managing Director and Uber's Head of Mobility Innovation Programs also participated in the round.
Moreover, the Shuttle is also eligible to receive Impact Ready Matching Fund of up to $100,000 from Biniyog Briddhi. However, the company also raised some investment from a pre-seed round from Robi Axiata Limited -- around $1 million in total.
The future is bright for Shuttle in Bangladesh. The journey continues...