In May, Aaj Tak's Vikrant Gupta wrote on social networking site Twitter, "Have to say @TrafflineDEL is doing a wonderful job. I always make it a point to scan it before deciding on routes." Ashish Bali tweeted he had saved an hour, thanks to @TrafflineMUM. "Link road was the best idea. Reached Goregaon east from Dahisar in 30 minutes," he wrote. TrafflineMUM and TrafflineDEL are Delhi and Mumbai Twitter handles of Traffline, a digital traffic information firm. Traffline, which allows commuters to check traffic conditions in their cities at any time, was launched in 2012 through its parent firm Bird's Eye Technology, founded by Brijraj Vaghani and Ravi Khemani in 2011. Vaghani, co-founder and chief executive, manages product and business development. Khemani takes care of finance, daily operations, project management and recruitment. Initial drags for the company included no concrete help in sourcing data, lack of capital and talent and the fact that Traffline wasn't a consumer-centric company. Vaghani says, the primary concern is "to get people used to checking traffic news before travelling". He adds the company is shifting from a premium model to an all-free one. How it works One can visit the Traffline website, allow it to access her/his location or feed this in and get the traffic details. One can also look around a location in a map for information along a certain route and find the estimated travel time, based on traffic conditions. Or, look for traffic jams in a city or parking space. Vaghani says the service can be accessed across platforms - email, SMS, mobile phones and a call centre.
|Area of business : Digital traffic information firm Started operations: 2012 via its parent company Bird's Eye Technology in Mumbai Revenues: Rs 2.5-3 crore (2013-14, estimated) Break-even : In 2017 Funding: Promoters = Rs 35-40 lakh IIM-A's Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship = Rs 20 lakh Indian Angel Network = Rs 2 crore Matrix Partners = Undisclosed|
The monthly active user base stands at 40 per cent of the total. The company's services have been endorsed by the Mumbai, Thane, Bangalore and Pune traffic police departments. It aims to break even in three years. For the past financial year, the revenue wasn't significant. "We clocked only a few million rupees. We are still finalising our business plan post the latest funding. So, there is no revenue target," says Vaghani. Estimates suggest the company earned revenue of Rs 2.5-3 crore last year. Revenue comes from value-added services, location-based advertising, through call centres and app purchases. "The good part is we don't invest directly in hardware. That happens mostly through partnerships. Therefore, ours is a low-cost model. Our expense is on software development and maintenance. Of the operation costs, 10 per cent goes towards maintaining the Twitter handles and taking calls," says Vaghani. There are no marketing costs; Traffline acquires customers organically and through social media. What gives Traffline an edge over Google Maps is it works closely with the traffic police and social media users. "We aspire to push traffic alerts to users on a real-time basis in the next two years," says Vaghani. He expects government authorities to approach Traffline for data through the next two to five years. As the market matures, competitors are inevitable. "The key challenge for Traffline is paid-customer acquisition and keeping its accuracy better than Google's. In business-to-business markets where the company offers services to taxi companies and others, developing barriers to entry is equally important," says Sushanto Mitra, founder & chief executive officer, Lead Angels Network. The company also plans to integrate its system with other sectors such as automobile, travel and telecommunication, which can use traffic information to improve their operations.
EXPERT TAKE Rajkumar Mundel The Traffline application (app) is the same as Google Maps; all Traffline features are present in Google Maps. The report section of the Traffline app is very useful, as it tells end-users about the root cause of the traffic. And, the data can be used by traffic police for rapid action. But the timeline needs a filter section for updates. Most of the time, people share their thoughts about traffic on Twitter, and such information isn't relevant. As a revenue model, advertising will not help the company unless user-generated data cannot become advertisement. As far as value-added service is concerned, if users are generating data, all features of the app should be free. No one has the time to call a support centre or call centre for traffic updates. Traffline will be a scalable business if the data generated by end-users can be utilised in a more effective manner, rather than only by the auto and travel sectors, as 'Android Auto' will be launched soon. Integrating live traffic feed with industries in the auto and travel sectors is not a valid point. So, once Android Auto is available in cars, people can download the Traffline app directly and use it. The auto sector will not have to depend on Traffline. Rajkumar Mundel, is founder of Letsride.in, a community driven ride-sharing social platform