inDriver recently landed in Nairobi making Kenya their third country in Africa following Tanzania and South Africa. inDriver joins other ride-hailing services including Uber, Bolt and Little to give Nairobians an alternative way of getting you to your destination in a more convenient way by using a different model – the rider makes the first offer.
A little history about the name
The ride-hailing service has an interesting name that is a portmanteau of Independent Drivers. inDriver is the brainchild of Arsen Tomsky. It was launched in Yakutsk, Russia in 2012. This came after an incident during the New Year’s Eve in cold Siberia when local taxi drivers all increased their prices around town by twice the normal amount – this left most people who had gone out distressed.
The people living in that small town went to social media and created an Independent Driver’s group that allowed users to post a request for a ride and what price they would pay. Willing drivers would then take the offer. The group grew and had 60,000 users in six months.
in 2013, a stand-alone app(inDriver) started being developed based on the Real-Time Deals(RTD) model and a year later expanded in the neighbouring areas such as Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and Vladivostok before going international in Astana, Kazakstan. With a promising growing number of users, LETA Capital, a Russian VC firm gave them $15milllion that helped the company expand internationally and they also moved to New York where they are currently headquartered.
The reason they chose Nairobi as their next city is because Kenya’s capital city is a fast-paced and dynamic city with an active population that is more receptive to new technology making it an ideal city to launch inDriver.
How the app works
inDriver’s model is a different one when compared to the regular ride-hailing apps as passengers set the cost of what they’ll pay for the ride. Nearby drivers receive alerts of your offer after including your pickup point and destination. They can accept the offer, ignore it or bargain for more.
Passengers can select the offers depending on driver ratings, estimated time of arrival, vehicle make and model too. The trip is confirmed when an agreement is done.
The app has a simple interface. if you gave it permission to access your location, that will be your pickup point when you launch the app, there’s a slot where you input your destination, offer your fare and a green button to request a vehicle. There’s even a handy slot to add your comments or wishes to let the driver know of your preferences.
There are some features I wished the app had such as a fare calculator so that when passengers offer what they’re willing to pay for their ride, its both fair for both the driver and passenger – this will help new users to offer a normal amount that’s not way too below or above the regular cost of the ride.
The app could also introduce a feature where users can schedule trips too to help passenger save time that would’ve been spent waiting for a ride.
How the experience was
I’ve taken a handful of rides using inDriver and my experience was generally good – three successful ones and one where I wasn’t pleased. Let me tell you about it.
The first time I hailed for a cab was Friday morning. I opened the app, set my pick up point and destination since I was heading to work from town and offered what I was going to pay. It took a while for drivers to be available for the service to alert drivers since they were not available around the Hilton area where I wanted to be picked up from. A driver accepted my offer and we even talked on the phone and from the app, I could see he was heading my direction but later ditched me – I had to make another order and cancelled since it was taking too long.
In the evening I decided to take another inDriver taxi. It was rush hour and I was heading to town from work. I launched the app as usual, entered my pick up point and destination, set up my offer and waited. I opted to add more to my offer. A few minutes later, I saw matching offers from various drivers and I accepted one who matched my price. He called to verify my location and I waited for my ride to arrive. It didn’t take long before my driver came through. He called to confirm that the guy standing in front was me – his customer. He came, parked next to me and opened the back door and I got in.
One driver said they preferred inDriver’s cash model as it is much more convenient to pay for other much-needed utilities such as fuel instead of waiting for the week’s payment ….
I’m never one to talk during taxi rides – I like to stay put and pop in my headsets to whatever I’m listening to – either a podcast or a music album while I scroll through social media. This time around, I was curious and I kept asking the driver questions about this latest ride-hailing service in town. The drivers were quite conversational. One driver said they preferred inDriver’s cash business model as it is much more convenient to pay for other much-needed utilities such as fuel instead of waiting for the week’s payment as other ride-hailing services do.
I’ve taken other rides since then and the experience has improved so far. I’ve seen a couple of vehicles available when I request for a ride and when drivers accepted my offer, they took less time to come pick me. Using the app to hail for a ride is also much cheaper when compared to other apps. Most of my rides have been between 17% and 24% cheaper.
inDriver says they vet their drivers accordingly to ensure passengers feel safe being with them and that the rides are flawless. Drivers are asked to provide the company with their personal information including a criminal background check and confirmation that they do not have any fines.
inDriver promises that it will always be attentive to any feedback which will help them maintain passenger safety. They also claim to have a zero tolerance policy for drivers who will violate road traffic rules and abuse passengers. This applies to passengers too who should be respectful to their drivers. Drivers are also required to have cars in good condition and models not be older than 2005. To join in as a driver, you submit your national ID, driver’s license, a photo of your car and background check. inDriver will then closely review all the submitted documents and later inform the applicant if they have been accepted.
Apart from my curious questions about inDriver, we dabbed a little bit on the current events regarding the economy and politics.
Most of the inDriver drivers use other ride-hailing apps and inDriver says that their service will help taxi drivers to get even more profits by reducing the idle time of the car. The driver can also choose the most profitable and convenient orders between the apps right on his phone.
inDriver won’t charge drivers a commission fee for the first six months. After that, they’ll start charging them a commission fee of up to 10%. This is a relatively low fee percentage as compared to other ride-hailing apps. The average income that drivers earn will depend on the number of rides that they complete and since there’s no commission fee, the income is also much higher when stacked up against rival ride-hailing apps.
Other benefits the drivers get flexibility such as the freedom to select jobs since drivers are not penalized for not accepting rides. Drivers also get to know the passenger’s destination before accepting a ride plus fairness and transparency regarding rates as they can be able to make incremental counter-offers for ride fares.
Passengers also get to rate their driver after each ride and if a driver gets two low ratings consecutively, they are then temporarily blocked from the inDriver systems until further investigation is done.
inDriver is looking to expand to more countries in Africa. Meanwhile, in Kenya’s Nairobi, the ride-hailing service will stay within the city borders in terms of offering coverage. inDriver says that they currently have 5000 drivers in Nairobi and plan on connecting more before the year ends.
inDriver is also looking to increase its payment options to include mobile money and card payments but this will lead to additional charges occurring such as the processing fees.