Indian firm Jugnoo and local player Kardi team up to fight ride-hailing battle

Jugnoo is teaming up with locally-founded Kardi by supplying its tech expertise and engineering support.
Jugnoo is teaming up with locally-founded Kardi by supplying its tech expertise and engineering support.PHOTO: KARDI

SINGAPORE - Two ride-hailing companies which debuted following Uber's exit in Singapore are joining hands to more effectively compete against bigger rivals like Grab.

Jugnoo, which is headquartered in India, will shut down its Singapore app by the end of this month (August), but is teaming up with locally-founded Kardi by supplying its tech expertise and engineering support.

Jugnoo chief executive Samar Singla said: "We want to support the underdogs... We are giving the small guys the same tools as the bigger players like Uber and Grab, so they can compete without worrying about technology."

Jugnoo, which started in 2014 and specialises in auto-rickshaw rides in India, has 50 engineers involved in developing ride-hailing technology and Mr Singla said a team of five will be assigned to support Kardi. They will continue to be based in Chandigarh, in north India.

Through the partnership, Jugnoo will take a cut from Kardi's revenue, but both companies declined to say how much this would be.

Mr Singla told The Straits Times in a phone interview on Sunday (Aug 12) that Jugnoo, which launched here in May (2018), faced the challenge of recruiting drivers locally, while operating out of India.

"Kardi is trying to get off the ground. Our strength is in technology, and their strength is in operations. The Kardi founder is a private-hire car driver and sees things first-hand. They (the Kardi team) are very hands-on folk. It's a logical match," Mr Singla said.

 
 
 
 

Kardi was started in June (2018) by entrepreneur Ashwin Selambram. Mr Selambram said Jugnoo's engineers have helped to improve the accuracy of the map in the Kardi app, and will also help the company with a feature that automatically calculates any tolls incurred during a trip.

Mr Selambram added: "When we first launched... we had a lot of booking requests, but due to the map and stability of the app, many were not converted to successful rides."

Under the tie-up, Kardi will also seek the consent of Jugnoo's drivers and riders in Singaporeto migrate their details over to the Kardi app. The Jugnoo app will send drivers and riders here a notification of this.

Mr Singla told ST that Jugnoo has about 500 drivers and 2,000 commutersin Singapore who are actively using its app.

Following Uber's exit from South-east Asia in March (2018), a slew of companies - Jugnoo, Kardi, Ryde, Filo and the Mass Vehicle Ledger Foundation - have entered the ride-hailing scene. Other firms such as Dacsee, Quikk and Go-Jek have also announced their plans to run services in Singapore.

Mr Singla is confident that Kardi stands a fighting chance.

"At the end of the day, Grab is charging 20 per cent in commissions from drivers because they have to give returns to their investors. They will always have to charge a lot more than a firm like Kardi. That's a big pressure point."

Kardi currently takes a 12 per cent cut from fares.