Unstoppable: Behind Rapido's ride to maintain bike-taxi market supremacy (2023)

Rapido has made the bike-taxi market its own even as governments and unions try to bring it down, and as competition intensifies. But sustaining growth won't be easy in the future

If you’re one of the millions of IPL fans relishing the high-octane excitement of the cricket tournament on JioCinema, chances are you’ve seen Rapido’s ‘Bike Wali Taxi Sabse Saxi (bike-taxis are the best)’ advertising blitz. One of the ads features a young woman ditching a dreadfully crowded bus in favour of the nimble two-wheeler taxi service that arrives in moments. The underlying message is clear—bike-taxis are affordable, convenient and safe.

“But which city are they advertising it for?” asks a senior executive at the bike-taxi vertical of one of the leading cab aggregators, who wishes to remain anonymous. “In Delhi and Maharashtra, they are banned. In Bengaluru and many other cities, they are a risk because auto unions wouldn’t let their riders operate.”

The ad campaign has been launched amidst a challenging time for bike-taxi service providers, even as they confront bans in important markets like Delhi and Maharashtra, and encounter significant operational challenges in several other states, such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “But they don’t care,” says the executive. “They will continue to operate until cops show up at their doors. Then they may take a pause, but will resume in no time. That’s been their strategy.”

The rules change in every state... But that doesn’t mean, we have been involved in illegal activity. We are generating lakhs of jobs by virtue of Captains already owning a bike

Aravind Sanka

Rapido and other ride-hailing platforms have been facing severe legal troubles for over a year now. For instance, Karnataka had asked the platforms to stop three-wheeler services, accusing them of overcharging and harassing customers. Separately, Rapido—that also has autorickshaws on its platform—was refused a licence to operate in Maharashtra. Even Delhi banned bike-taxis for violating the Motor Vehicles Act, while Madurai city police warned Rapido riders of strict action.

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Clearly, the battle isn’t just about Rapido. The whole bike-taxi industry—where regulations vary by city and state—is impacted. While some states such as Goa and Haryana have legalised bike-taxis, in other regions, they largely operate in a legal grey area. Major players such as Rapido, Uber Moto and Ola Bike have struggled to navigate this uncertain terrain, with frequent run-ins with autorickshaw unions and government agencies.

“They [Rapido] have gained significant market share over the other two [Ola and Uber] by running their operations when others shut down to comply with government regulations,” says a former senior executive at Uber, wishing to remain anonymous.

Unstoppable: Behind Rapido's ride to maintain bike-taxi market supremacy (1)

It’s no secret that start-ups often leverage regulatory ambiguity to disrupt traditional industries. First, they establish themselves as market disruptors by offering convenience and better pricing; then they lobby for regulatory changes to legitimise their operations. Rapido has been driving such a disruption for bike-taxis in India. Today, their story—similar to how Uber’s cab-hailing business navigated the initial legal challenges it faced in India for not complying with local laws, but whose convenient services sparked a public debate on the need for regulatory changes that forced the government’s hand to establish guidelines for the operation of ride-hailing companies—is more or less developing along the same lines.

“Travel and transport is a part of the Concurrent List. So, the rules for it change in every state and union territory. But that doesn’t mean we have been involved in illegal activity. After all, we are generating lakhs of jobs by virtue of them [riders, called Captains] already owning bikes,” says Aravind Sanka, Founder of Rapido.

As per unverified estimates, Rapido currently enjoys a 65 per cent market share in India’s fledgeling bike-taxi industry, and it didn’t reach there just by dodging the many regulatory bullets.

Bike taxis... [are] affordable, convenient and safe. We were convinced about the business from day one. We knew it is going to be a multi-billion-dollar opportunity in the long term

Kunal Khattar
Founding Partner,
AdvantEdge Founders

Since its launch in 2015, Rapido has had a steady but frugal journey. The company was so undercapitalised that it chose not to expand beyond Bengaluru in the first three years of its existence. During that time, it created awareness, built its product, improved customer experience and established a category. Its first large round—of Rs 52 crore in Series A funding—came in its fourth year. This frugal mindset has helped it survive even as dozens of peers have wound up between 2015 and 2018.

“Bike-taxi is the only option that gives all the three features that people look for in public transport—affordability, convenience and safety,” says Kunal Khattar, Founding Partner at AdvantEdge Founders, which is an early investor in Rapido. “We were convinced about the business from day one. We knew it is going to be a multibillion-dollar opportunity in the long term. We just wanted to make sure we back the right team.”

Khattar’s investment mantra might be on point with his focus on affordability and convenience, but safety remains a deep concern. Plus, there’s the cultural component, especially for women commuters. Firstly, two-wheelers are seen as less safe than their three- and four-wheeler counterparts. Then comes the hesitation among women in riding pillion with a stranger due to its unfamiliarity and safety concerns. Adding to this challenge is the glaring lack of female riders. For instance, on Rapido, there are currently only around 200-300 female Captains out of over 1.1 million registered Captains. The company plans to increase their numbers to 1,000 within the next six months.

Unstoppable: Behind Rapido's ride to maintain bike-taxi market supremacy (2)

“I don’t prefer bike-taxis because it’s weird sitting behind a random dude. The proximity is too close and it seems unsafe,” says Sneha Sharma, a frequent Rapido autorickshaw user. “I’d rather take an autorickshaw and sit alone behind, where I am at a safe distance.”

However, Rapido’s founders—citing the 22 per cent women commuters on the platform—insist that insurance and a vigilant tech mechanism have made bike-taxis equally safe for women.

Despite these challenges, experts say Rapido’s strength is in its nimble evolution and single-product focus.

Khattar, who first backed Rapido in its second seed round in 2016, says the company’s single-product focus has helped them beat the odds. “There were several discussions at the board including getting into food delivery or becoming a super app; all of them have been shot down. Of the 120 cities, they don’t have a physical presence in about 100. They manage and monitor operations remotely from Bengaluru. That is how they built a very cost- and capital-efficient business model,” he says. “That is what has allowed them to become a clear market leader.”

On the other end, Ola and Uber—that have raised and spent billions of VC dollars to build their respective businesses around big-ticket products—offer an average ride price of about Rs 300. In contrast, Rapido is tailor-made for the bike-taxi segment, which is a small-ticket business. In its eight years, the company has raised a fraction of its competitors’ funding, with its largest round of $180 million coming in April 2022.

Once you create a circuit of bikers, you can create a subscription model. I feel these services will come down to this model, where drivers will pay a monthly subscription to use the app

Ashutosh Johri

“They [Ola, Uber] are the Mercedes of shared mobility. For them to deliver a 50-60-product, profitably, is impossible. When you are over-capitalised, you throw money at every problem, which is what is happening with subsidised rides and heavy customer-acquisition costs. Therefore, it is very difficult for them to become capital conscious,” says a VC investor who has made bets on the mobility space, and who wishes to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, Rapido’s dominance in the bike-taxi space is undeniable, with it being the backbone of its entire business. This is precisely why they can’t afford to halt operations. However, as the demand for convenient and affordable transportation continues to rise, the bike-taxi market is ripe for the picking. With three players—Rapido, Ola and Uber—in the race, it’s clear that everyone understands the immense potential of this evolving segment.

Ashutosh Johri, Co-founder of now-defunct bike-taxi service provider Baxi, says the winner will be the one that creates the biggest supply network. And he believes that the commission-based model may not be the most suitable and sustainable one for bike-taxis. “If you try to take a cut on every ride, it is not a valid model. The reason why they [aggregators] are surviving is because they are giving incentives. That’s the reason they are not making money as well,” he says. “Once you create a mega circuit of bikers, you can create a subscription model for them. I feel these services will ultimately come down to this model, where the driver will pay a monthly subscription to use the app.”

While this type of model has not been experimented with, it could potentially offer a better deal to the riders and incentivise more riders to sign up on the platforms. Commuters would also stand to gain as in the cities, where most trips are short and solo, two-wheelers offer a fast and affordable solution—especially for the younger crowd—who prioritise cost-effective travel options. Also, they solve the first- and last-mile challenge, while maintaining a steady stream of commuters for the riders.

Unstoppable: Behind Rapido's ride to maintain bike-taxi market supremacy (3)

But not too long ago, the pandemic had hit the urban mobility industry hard, leading to a sharp decline in the number of cabs on the roads. And now, cabs have become increasingly unaffordable and unreliable. Take the example of Bengaluru where, once thriving, the number of taxis on the city’s roads has dwindled to 35,000-40,000 vehicles, from 100,000-125,000 in 2018, says Tanveer Pasha, President of Ola-Uber Cab Drivers’ Association. As a result, service levels have sunk to an all-time low.

And while autorickshaws serve as the most affordable transportation option, they stand to lose the most, should bike-taxis get regulatory approval. Per Pasha, the advent of bike-taxis has caused a decline of around 40 per cent in the incomes of autorickshaw drivers, but they are now starting to recover some of their lost revenues due to a reduction in the number of cabs.

Meanwhile, commuters across cities are looking for affordable and efficient transportation options that cover the first- and last-mile commute. With most docked and rental bike start-ups like Bounce, Vogo and Ontrack having pivoted or shut shop, the bike-taxi market is wide open for the persistent player to capture. And while ride-sharing platforms saw a slump during the Covid-19 pandemic, as lockdowns ended and cabs didn’t return on roads, bike-taxis have managed to capitalise on it.

“The [bike-taxi] industry has really seen acceptance over the years. It was quite small till CY19, and de-grew in 2020, but since last year, growth has been phenomenal. If you compare CY20 with CY22, bike-taxi rides have grown 2.5 to 3x,” says Ujjwal Chaudhry, Partner at RedSeer Management Consulting.

The [bike-taxi] industry was quite small till CY19, and de-grew in 2020, but since last year, growth has been phenomenal. If you compare CY20 with CY22, bike-taxi rides have grown 2.5 to 3 times

Ujjwal Chaudhry
RedSeer Management Consulting

In all this, Rapido’s vision is crystal clear: don’t let the empty back seat of a bike go to waste, when it can be a source of income. “It’s economical and ecological,” says Sanka. And this focus on efficiency doesn’t stop at ferrying people around the city. The ride-sharing platform has expanded its services to include food and courier deliveries, an area where competitors Uber and Ola have yet to make any significant inroads. It has partnered with Swiggy—that is an investor in the company—and Amazon and JioMart, to allow its fleet of Captains to switch gears and become delivery agents, whenever the need arises. From ferrying office-goers and college students in the morning and evening, to fulfilling lunch and dinner-time food deliveries, to handling e-commerce shipments in the slower afternoon hours, Captains on the platform have the option to stay busy all day long.

“A majority of its [Rapido’s] Captains work part-time. Without food delivery and bike-taxi being complementary, they won’t make enough money as a full-time rider. The strategic partnership with Swiggy has really helped them. Rapido is the only one with tight integration with food and e-commerce players,” says a former bike-taxi founder who wishes to remain anonymous. “It’s a superb business. There is no fixed cost, no customer acquisition spends. It is their biggest competitor moat right now.”

Rapido is looking to enhance the efficiency of its fleet. Per sources that BT spoke to, the company is considering transitioning its fleet from traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric two-wheelers. This would align with new regulations in Delhi, where the government is reportedly considering allowing only electric two-wheelers for bike-taxis. Shifting to electric vehicles would also result in cost savings for everyone involved.

“Rapido has about half a million registered Captains and knows which vehicle they use and how old they are. Assuming that a person keeps his bike for five years, 20 per cent of the Captains on the platform will buy a new bike every year. That’s 100,000 bikes. Today they all buy ICE vehicles. Rapido is trying to influence that decision,” says an industry insider aware of the plans.

Rapido will act as an intermediary that brings together EV makers, financiers and insurance providers to help its fleet transition to EVs. Given the magnitude of the requirement, the company is seeing significant interest from players willing to offer the platform a commission.

Despite the regulatory vacuum, Rapido has tied up with TVS for supply of electric two- and three-wheelers. Apart from this, it has also tied up with RACEnergy—a battery swapping network provider—to deploy e-autos supported by RACEnergy’s network, in Hyderabad.

Amidst the evolving landscape of the bike-taxi industry, the business models of today will see many iterations before the platforms find firm ground. However, one undeniable truth remains—the sheer convenience and economics of this model is fuelling its demand. And in the midst of it all, Rapido has not only emerged as the winner, but also the ultimate game-changer rewriting the rules of engagement.


Who is the owner of Rapido taxi? ›

Aravind Sanka - Co Founder - Rapido - Bike Taxi of India | LinkedIn.

How do I delete Rapido ride history? ›

Go to menu → Ride history. Select the ride you want to delete. Scroll down to Delete ride and tap Delete.

Is Rapido a loss or profit? ›

Rising Employee Costs Take A Toll On Rapido; FY22 Loss Widens 163% YoY To INR 439 Cr. Bike taxi startup Rapido has reported a 163% year-on-year (YoY) rise in its net loss to INR 439.02 Cr for the financial year 2021-22 (FY22), largely due to a surge in employee costs.

How does the Rapido work? ›

On the commuter-side, Rapido works like any other taxi-booking app. To book a ride, users have to sign up and enter pickup and destination points. Once the booking is confirmed, the name, photo, and bike number of the Captain is shared with them. Commuters can book Rapido rides between 6 am and midnight.

Is Rapido a good company? ›

Rapido has an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5, based on over 244 reviews left anonymously by employees.

What is the highest salary in Rapido? ›

What is the highest salary in Rapido? The highest-paying job at Rapido is a Engineering Manager with a salary of ₹78.2 Lakhs per year. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹23.95 lakhs per year. The top 1% earn more than a whopping ₹94 lakhs per year.

What happens if we cancel Rapido ride? ›

The booking can be cancelled by the user from the 'My Bookings' section before the booking is accepted by the Vendor Partner and 100% payment will be refunded to the user. 100% refund of the rental amount if a ride is Cancelled/Rejected by Rapido or Vendor due to unavailability of the bike.

What happens if I cancel Rapido ride? ›

Any cancellations done by the client, for any reason, will lead to a full payment of the agreed price and immediate termination of the contract, unless otherwise mutually agreed between Rapido Payments and the Client.

Is Rapido app safe? ›

Definitely yes, Rapido is one of the safest and user friendly options for women. It takes maximum care and security and provides various safety features for women. They have a call masking feature that protects your contact information.

Which country made Rapido? ›

Rapido is an Indian bike taxi aggregator and logistics service provider based out of Bangalore. Founded in 2015, the company operates in over 100 cities across the country, but has run into legal troubles in several locations where bike taxis are not legal.

How many riders does Rapido have? ›

Rapido, which has a fleet of over 60,000 active riders operating across major Indian cities, including Bengaluru, Gurugram, and Delhi, is reportedly said to be in the final stages of closing a $50 million round from Westbridge Capital.

Who is the investor in Rapido? ›

Rapido Latest Shareholding
Shareholders NamePost Round Holding %Net worth
3 more rows

What are the advantages of Rapido? ›

Rapido ensures safe and economical rides for intra-city travelers. Discount - Get up to 40% OFF on the first 4 rides. Maximum discount of INR 20 on the first ride and INR 15 on the next 3 rides.

What technology is used in Rapido? ›

Rapido uses Firebase Remote Config to change the application's behavior and appearance on the fly in response to the results of A/B testing across sections of its user base. Furthermore, Rapido uses Firebase Crashlytics to provide app crash reports to its Firebase console.

Who are the target customers of Rapido? ›

rapido. bike's audience is 62.68% male and 37.32% female.

Where is Rapido main headquarters? ›

Head Office: Roppen Transportation Services Pvt Ltd, #148, 1st Floor, SLV Nilaya, 5th Main 80ft road, HSR Layout 7th Sector, Bangalore 560102.

What is the salary of Rapido Devops? ›

Software Engineer salary at Rapido India ranges between ₹ 6.1 Lakhs to ₹ 29.0 Lakhs.

What is the monthly income of Rapido captain in hyderabad? ›

₹12,210 - ₹12,210

See all Rapido Captain salaries to learn how this stacks up in the market. How accurate does ₹12,210 - ₹12,210 look to you?

What is the salary of Rapido bike job in hyderabad? ›

Rapido Driver Salaries in Hyderabad/Secunderabad

Driver salary in Rapido ranges between ₹ 0.2 Lakhs to ₹ 0.5 Lakhs per year.

Why is Rapido banned in India? ›

Delhi Govt banned Ola, Rapido, Uber Bike: Key Points

According to the Delhi Transport Department, the main cause is that bike taxi drivers consistently break the rules. It states that two-wheelers are not permitted to transport non-commercial quantities of passengers for profit.

Why do cab drivers cancel rides? ›

Drivers' inclination towards cash payments

Many drivers cancel rides since they see the mode of payment on the app. The reason is they find it difficult to set aside enough money to meet their daily expenses.

Is first ride free in Rapido? ›

Can I get my first ride free on Rapido? The first ride free is present on Rapido Auto (code: GRABON100). Other Rapido users get a discount of Rs 25 on their first ride.

Can you withdraw money from Rapido wallet? ›

Here's are the steps to follow:

To return the amount to your source bank account, simply go to the transaction in your passbook and tap on the 'Return To Bank' option. Tap on confirm and the amount will be refunded to your source bank account.

Is Rapido legal or illegal in India? ›

Rapido auto serviceon 2023 is legal and functional in Chennai but their bike service is not presently available therefore we can say Rapido is legal in Chennai.

Does Rapido have insurance? ›

The insurance cover under the Policy will be applicable only to the trips booked through the Rapido platform.
CoverageSum Insured (INR)Additional Conditions
OPD Treatment3,000Deductible: INR 500 on each claim
Funeral Expenses5,000
Loan Protector1,00,000For loans from authorized NBFCs and Scheduled Banks
3 more rows

What is the salary of Rapido driver in India? ›

Q2: How much does Rapido pay its driver? A: In India, a Rider at Rapido is expected to make between 8,990 and 10,010 rupees per month.

Who are the directors of Rapido? ›

Directors of Rapido Technologies Private Limited are Kommi Krishna Gopala, Homeswara Rao Balu, . Rapido Technologies Private Limited's Corporate Identification Number is (CIN) U72900TG2016PTC109838 and its registration number is 109838.

Which map does Rapido use? ›

Adding Your API Key. Currently, Rapido supports Google Maps by wrapping and simplifying the Google Maps Flutter Plugin. In order to use the location and mapping functionality, you will need to supply your own API key.

Is Rapido a unicorn? ›

It has repeatedly avoided death, and with about $200 million in savings and an estimated value of $830 million, it is on the verge of becoming a unicorn. The only bike-taxi company to reach this point is Rapido. Between 2015 and 2017, about thirty startups.

How do I cancel Rapido captain? ›

If you wish to cancel your account or request that we no longer use your information to provide you services, contact us through email address mentioned on the trip bill received.

Who is the target market of Rapido bike? ›

Target Audience of Rapido

Rapido's target audience is mainly commuters who travel in their day-to-day lives. Its main goal is to offer services to commuters who are preferring open and safe commute options in comparison to over-expensive cab rides.

What is the highest earning in Rapido captain? ›

Average Rapido Captain salary in India is ₹ 1.1 Lakhs for less than 1 year of experience to 2 years. Captain salary at Rapido India ranges between ₹ 0.1 Lakhs to ₹ 2.6 Lakhs. According to our estimates it is 50% less than the average Captain Salary in Internet Companies.

Who is the manager of Rapido? ›

Ashish Reddy - General Manager - Marketplace - Rapido | LinkedIn.

What is the cost structure of Rapido? ›

How Much Does It Cost To Use Rapido Services? According to the company's pricing structure, consumers will pay Rs. 15 as a basic cost, and an extra Rs. 3 for every additional kilometer they go.

Does rapido provide helmet? ›

Helmets (Included in Rental Charges): One helmet may be provided by the Vendor Partner with the Vehicle as per their policy.

What is the salary of Rapido bike taxi in Chennai? ›

Average annual salary in Rapido , Chennai is INR 5.9 lakhs .

How much can I earn from Rapido referral? ›

Join with the Rapido referral code CBAPQ5M to get a ₹50 bonus after your first two rides. You will also get the same bonus on referring new users to the app with your referral link.

Which country owns Rapido? ›

Rapido is an Indian bike taxi aggregator and logistics service provider based out of Bangalore. Founded in 2015, the company operates in over 100 cities across the country, but has run into legal troubles in several locations where bike taxis are not legal.

Who owns Rapido India? ›

Aravind Sanka is the Co-founder of Rapido, India's first and largest bike taxi app focused on making commuters' daily intracity travel affordable, faster and safer.

Who is the general manager of Rapido? ›

The average salary of a General Manager Operations at Rapido is ₹ 30.1 Lakhs per year which is 66% more than average salary of a General Manager Operations in India which receives a salary of ₹ 18.1 Lakhs per year.

Who is Rapido target audience? ›

The company's core target audience lies between the age group of 18-28 years driven primarily by the affordability factor.

Who is the new brand ambassador of Rapido? ›

"We are thrilled to be launching our second Denim collection with renowned actor and brand ambassador, Kartik Aryan.

Who is the brand ambassador of Rapido? ›

Rapido launches its IPL campaign featuring Ranveer Singh, Allu Arjun, and other superstars.

Who is the general manager of Morrow Meadows? ›

Tom Scherer - Senior Vice President/General Manager - Morrow-Meadows Corporation | LinkedIn.

Who is the general manager of JMG? ›

Jihad Nasr - General Manager - JMG Limited | LinkedIn.

Who is deputy GM? ›

The Deputy General Manager leads and develops a team with operational responsibilities to ensure that the organisation achieves its business objectives.

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