CarWale Founder and CEO, Mohit Dubey, Nikhil Aggarwal and IIT Delhi alumni, Vinayak Bhavnani realised that not more than 5% percent of Indians would own a car or any form of private transport at any point in their lives. Even from an infrastructure perspective, they recognized that most of the cities in India are not equipped to handle car ownership beyond these levels. Hence the majority of Indians will continue to rely on public transportation as their primary mode of transit.

Further, they witnessed that alternate ways of travelling within a city were emerging (shared bikes, shuttles etc) and getting more and more dynamic in terms of availability, pricing, etc. implying the need for a single platform that can provide information on all these different options so that a commuter can plan the most efficient trip.

However, the experience of public transit is extremely broken and has tremendous frictions. Sensing the need to address this daunting problem and tap the untapped market, the trio founded Zophop in 2014.

“With an intention to make everyday city commute hassle-free and convenient for the majority of the population in the country, Zophop was launched in 2014 to address, best multi-modal trip, real time information on availability and digital, smart ticketing for public transportation,” says Nikhil Aggarwal, COO, Co-founder, Zophop.

Mumbai-based startup is a mobile application targeted at making daily commute easier for people using public modes of travel. Zophop 1.0 was a multi-modal trip planner for 15 cities in India covering local trains, city buses, metro, cabs and autos. Zophop 2.0 was launched in early 2016 after the team realized that within urban transit, the biggest problem is the 15 min+ waiting time taken by buses with absolutely no visibility on arrival.

“In order to facilitate multi-modal transit and make lives simpler, the team decided to inform people about their ‘next bus’ and started providing real time information on buses on Zophop. It is the first and only platform to have a sizeable fleet for ‘live’ ETA as compared to both their local and international competitors. Zophop 3.0 now takes the consumer proposition from information to transactions and facilitates end-to-end seamless transit experiences,” says Nikhil.

Meet The Brain Behind It

27 year old Vinayak has worked on chat and voice products and did his thesis on LTE/4G. Before starting his entrepreneurial journey, Vinayak worked with Directi on mobile chat and voice products for 2 years. At Zophop, IIT-Delhi grads have been responsible for charting the product roadmap of the company. Through a combination of a deep understanding of the consumer need and technology, Vinayak has ensured that Zophop is the first-to-market globally with product features.

Whereas if we talk about Nikhil, prior co-founding Zophop, he had worked with Morgan Stanley's investment banking team in India for 6 long years where he used to cover fields like technology, automotive and real estate sectors. At Zophop, Nikhil plays an instrumental role in architecting the strategic roadmap for the company and building a robust business model. Nikhil is responsible for growing the information supply-side of the business and overseeing operations.

A Bumpy Ride

The biggest challenge during the early day was to develop a deep understanding of the market and understand what their target audience needs. Equally challenging during the early days was to build the right team. “Over the last few years, the additional challenge has been to aggregate data of buses especially when in most cases it simply doesn’t exist. We have been successful in deploying some innovative go-to-market strategies and technology to address this,” says Nikhil.

In its journey of building the consumer proposition, the company also realised the need to build and deploy enterprise tools at the bus operators end. “Zophop has installed GPS in 1,000+ buses and deployed dynamic scheduling tools so that it can generate real-time information. As a sector, public transit has limited or unused technology infrastructure and Zophop has taken a lead in deploying this infrastructure to power the consumer proposition,” says Nikhil.

Today, Zophop has associated with around 10 transport providers in cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Nagpur and Indore to offer either real-time information or mobile ticketing. It has also partnered with private transportation companies Jugnoo, Uber, Prasanna Purple and Bhagirathi Travels to allow users to search for and choose their services as alternative transit options.

Understanding Technology More Closely

Zophop often install GPS on buses which enable commuters to track the real position of a bus, it's time of arrival at any bus stop on a route. “We call this the Uber+ experience and allow commuters to spend their valuable time with friends and family instead of standing in the heat or rain at a bus stop. We use the GPS feed from the buses and combine it with dynamic scheduling information i.e which bus is on which route in real time, then predict the ETA using a proprietary algorithm to all stops on the route based on current vehicle movement, historical data, traffic information etc, explains Nikhil.

Not only this, with Zophop, commuters can also purchase tickets on its app which is very similar to booking a movie ticket. Users can purchase a mobile pass or ticket directly on Zophop - anytime, anywhere. “As a transit company it is important to also make the entire journey comfortable, hence we provide the following additional key features - multi-modal journey planning, voice alerts on next stop arrival, ability to share trip from a safety perspective,” says Nikhil.

Funds Flowing In

Zophop, which just returned from attending Innotrek this year after interacting with prominent Silicon Valley investors and experts, tech campus visits to global giants, had raised angel funding from leading technology entrepreneurs and investors such as Anupam Mittal (Founder,, Satyan Gajwani (MD, Times Internet) and Amit Singhal (Previously SVP, Google) in year 2015.

Road Ahead

Currently, Zophop is present in around 15 cities in India but at different stages of deployment. They have claims that most of its traffic is generated from Mumbai and it’s suburbs, Nagpur and Kolkata.Currently providing live bus tracking information for 5,000 buses and have 50,000+ monthly active users,

Currently providing live bus tracking information for 5,000 buses and have 50,000+ monthly active users, Zophop is planning to bring 1 lakh live buses for ETA or ticketing on its platform in the next two to three years. Further, it aims to provide users with options to choose and combine these buses with other modes of transportation.

“The team envisages Zophop as a public transit assistant to every Indian. Zophop plans to create a seamless payment experience across modes in the same way that exists in other countries through smart cards.In the future, it also plans to leapfrog smart cards and enable payment via mobile phones,” concludes Nikhil.

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