Emerging from its era of economic darkness, the state managed to attract investment in hitherto untapped segments in the past few years. But for many investors, the dazzle soon turned into distress. The rest survived by modifying their strategies.
Mauryan Cabs, the first and only radio taxi service in the city, was initially struggling for bookings. Its owner Kundan Singh hit upon an idea. Taking demand into account, he introduced slab bookings.
One could book a cab for four, eight or 12 hours, the rates being constant for the slab chosen.
“The taxi market in Patna is unorganised and prices keep fluctuating. We tried to streamline that and help customers avail cabs at affordable prices so that taxi owners, too, could reap profits,” said Singh.
“We kept changing our operation and pricing strategies so that our customers got the best deal,” Singh added.
Mauryan Cabs began operations in April 2011 with a fleet of 14 taxis. It now runs over 45 cabs and has introduced outstation service and online booking facilities.
There are as many new ideas as there are companies.
Animesh Jha, the owner of E-formation, said his online company registration portal provides service within a week. “Normally, registration of a company takes around 15 to 20 days, but we get it done in seven days,” he said.
The firm provides a complete range of integrated legal and IT support services and deals in fields like limited liability partnership (LLP) registration, partnership registration, proprietorship registration, trademark registration, service tax registration, value-added tax (VAT) and central sales tax registration, website designing, domain registration, website hosting, digital signature certificates and income tax filing. The company began operations in 2011.
Anish Bari believes street food reflects the culture of a region. Busy nowadays with his new project, Mango People Mobile Food Cart, he said: “Today, 80 per cent of the eating-out market is unorganised and plagued with food insecurities. The masses and the regular working class are found to have a tough time choosing a place to eat out. There is a need for cost-effective, hygienic, and easily available food.” The movable street food cart chain is likely to hit the market in June.
Groomers and Shapers, an academy of art and sports, is ready to enter the market in July. Sumit Kumar, its owner, believes in cultivating children’s hobbies into careers. “The market has a huge potential but lacks a proper academy related to arts and sports. We would have professional and efficient trainers for 64 categories,” said Sumit.
On the other hand, Ankit Mathur is likely to introduce Puve Technology in September. It will comprise a home theatre projector and multi-channel audio. The technology will cut the need for a television at home.
While several firms are hitting the market with innovative ideas, many companies have shut shop in the past two years because of losses, lack of required support from the government and dearth of skilled manpower.
On October 2, 2011, chief minister Nitish Kumar had flagged off a fleet of 50 radio taxis. Twenty belonged to Leeway Logistics and the rest to FleetX. The air-conditioned taxis, equipped with global positioning system, tamper-proof electronic meters, debit or credit card payment machines and panic button among others, were run in a public-private partnership mode with Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC).
Leeway used to charge Rs 200 for the first 4km and Rs 21 for every kilometre thereafter, much higher than what local taxis charged — Rs 7 to Rs 10 per km. Pune-based FleetX’s tariff was even higher. Depending on the type of the vehicle, charges for the first 4km ranged from Rs 250 to Rs 600 (day time) and from Rs 312 to Rs 750 (at night).
Both the firms suspended their operations last October. According to Rais Azim, senior manager, transport, BSTDC, the organisations cited “absence of profit” for shutting down. Sources attributed the shutdown to the firms’ failure to pay cut money they were allegedly asked for.
Red Ants, a media solutions firm, shut down in June 2010 after three years of operation. Its owner Prashant Kumar said: “I was asked to pay cut money to secure orders. Refusal meant denial of opportunities and I had to fold up my business.”
Two years ago, Ashish Modi introduced a discount card christened Unique Card. The initiative was a flop. Ashish said: “The market lacked skilled workers to push the cards.”