Starting up when still a student: In conversation with Prasanth, founder Commut

CIE brings to our Deeptech community,

Fire Up Founder Insights series 6th edition, hosted by our COO, Mr. Ramesh Loganathan. The series is brought to you as a part of Startup Gyan Blog series by CIE-IIITH  where we feature our founders and talk about their Startup status and the journey so far through conversation on specific topics useful for other Deeptech startups and the community at large.

In Conversation with Prasanth, founder Commut:

Started in 2015, Commut was a joint effort of 6 IIITH students to build an easy and accessible solution for daily office commuters across the city of Hyderabad. The mobile app served over 70K people through 400 driver partners.  The company was acqui-hired by Dubai-based ride app company Careem in 2018 while the customers and driver base were adopted by Shuttl.

Getting on the expedition:

  • Came up with assumption of pain point, sent survey to friends and people in IT companies
  • Onboarded 2 bus vendors to test the assumption, offered free rides for 3 weeks
  • Tried for the test sample to be as diverse as possible
  • Identified a pattern and started developing MVP
  • A basic app was launched in 20 days through following the fundamentals taught
    in Lean Startup course as a part of curriculum
  • Started the app download for free rides, later on adding wallet to get offer on payment basis
  • Hired student from alma mater, to deal with the tech development during  traction

“We used the IIIT student cards to offer free rides, to build trust among commuters, especially women”

The Startup raised its 1st round of funding with 50K ventures after bootstrapping for first 6 months.

“The tech team used to work in the night, pushing updates in the morning and the operational team used to wake up in the morning and join to take the rides; working 24 hours in initial days from my flat”

Handling social pressure:

Some of the founders managed to build the app alongside their jobs while others pursued it in after-hours in parallel with their dual degrees.

“Parents seemed more convinced and supporting after getting the external validation through raising 1st round of funds”

The Growth Hack tip:

Be obsessed about customers; founders have to be disciplined and should get their hands dirty.

Watch the complete interview for some cool anecdotes and fun facts!

Keep watching this space for more under Fire Up Series.
Stay safe and sound!

– Sunita Kumari, Team CIE