I came across the latest endeavor of G-Auto, launch of its auto-rickshaw service in Rajkot recently. Nirmal’s endeavor that started in 2009, slowly and steadily is transforming the nation through sustainable, friendly and secure transportation service. You will soon see the impact of his endeavor in your city or town too, wherever you are in India.
I have been following Nirmal ever since he started G-Auto over four years ago in Ahmedabad. Nirmal happens to be an inspiration and a good friend too. It is all the more motivating since he has been a student of Career Launcher in Hyderabad, before he headed to do his B-school education at IIMA. Every teacher and mentor will always be delighted to see his mentee outperform himself. Salute you Nirmal!
I have been using Nirmal’s story along with many other stories in one of my hugely popular motivational talks – THINK BIG, START SMALL! – to goad youngsters, especially B-School grads, to become entrepreneurial leaders. You can find the earliest version of the talk on this very website – Think Big, Start Small!
From all my research on the web and personal interaction with Nirmal, that have yielded enough data and information, I am briefly sharing the story to inspire myself and you too.
Nirmal, born in a humble farming family, in the hinterland of Bihar has been afflicted by polio at the age of three. He has done his schooling from the village school in the Hindi medium. His first brush with the alphabets of English happened when he moved to Patna after class 10, for want of better education, that his parents saw as only salvation from the hardships and vagaries of being a marginal farmer.
Since he was from a farming background, he perhaps felt or was mentored to go for higher education in Agriculture. Through the national entrance exam for agricultural universities, he got selected into N G Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad. This was his first move to outside Bihar. It was a struggle initially, especially with the language, English, in understanding and speaking. This made him create a club, Phoenix, at the university to help himself and others like him, to master English language. He managed to convince his fellow students, who are good in English, to take classes on spoken and written English. His journey of Entrepreneurial Leadership began in this act.
When in the pre-final year, got to know about, Business School education and CAT, and the prospects of having a secure and respectful job prospect, if he goes into one of the IIMs. He worked hard, gave everything to get into IIMs. He eventually made it to IIMA.
Nirmal, one who got into IIMA with a dream of getting a respectful corporate career, had a life-changing experience when he had to deal with a rude auto rickshaw driver in his second year at IIMA. This set his thought process rolling. “Why cannot we have a safe, secure, comfortable and delightful public transportation. Why not world-class Tuk Tuk Service!”
He went into his introspection and brainstorming mode to come out with an Auto Rickshaw service, and named it G-Auto. He went about talking to the Auto Rickshaw drivers and their unions to convince them to join G-Auto. After a lot of interactions, a handful joined his endeavor. He ran the service for a few months that made him polish the concept and with the leap of faith, sought an appointment with the chief-minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi. Finally, his presentation to Mr Modi convinced the CM to add his government’s weight behind Nirmal’s dream. Nirmal convinced the CM to official inaugurate the service, and I suppose it was done with a drive to his office from home, escorted by Nirmal. This small gesture of the CM, was widely published in all media, an in no time more Auto Rickshaw drivers started looking at G-Auto as the god send. The numbers started swelling. From a couple of hundreds the numbers today exceed 15,ooo across cities of Ahmedabad, Gandhi Nagar, Vadodara and now Rajkot.
Some time in 2010, I happen to land at the Ahmedabad Airport and noticed an A4 sheet on the pillar next to the luggage belt announcing the launch of “G-Auto Airport Express Service,” the very day. I quickly lifted my luggage and headed out looking for the G-Auto booth only to be confronted by the other auto rickshaw-drivers who were blocking my way towards the G-Auto cabin, casting all kinds of aspersions. Later, Nirmal shared about the challenges of dealing with the unruly drivers and unions that at times even endangered his life. I have been using G-Auto ever since it has been launched, whenever I am in Gujarat.
What is so special about this Auto Rickshaw service –
For the Customer :
Drivers are trained in English and Hindi to interact, also trained to provide customer delight. They also are taken sessions on the heritage of the city to make them into heritage ambassadors. What more you can ask for than a friendly advise from the auto driver the moment you land in the city, on everything that you can imagine about the city.
G-Autos have News Papers/Mags, Mobile chargers, PCO, and water, above all safety and security with a contact number for immediate action on any complaints. The 24×7 call centre takes care of all your needs of transportation by Auto now. Children and women can move around anytime of the day and night without any alarm. You get the receipt for your payments with all details and numbers whenever you board a G-Auto. The Pilot insists on your taking the receipt!
For the Auto-rickshaw driver, called PILOT in G-Auto :
Drivers have insurance cover – both accidental and life, child-education loan and other loans, addition revenue streams from PCO, selling newspapers and mags etc. More importantly gave them security, dignity along with prosperity. The brand value now rubs onto the image of the PILOT. He now proudly says “I am with G-Auto”.
Recently, after spate of highly publicized cases of harassment and rape of women, Delhi government has thought of doing something more to its public transportation system, especially Auto service. Nirmal Foundation after its presentation has been short-listed to provide services in the Capital. Soon you will see G-Auto enthralling the Delhi commuters too!
How does the business of “Auto Service” look like? The numbers story!
Now if you are keen on looking at the potential, here are the numbers, my back of the envelope calculations..
– Every time you hire G-Auto, G-Auto for its world-class secure services, charges Rs 20/- as service charges, over and above the meter reading. Even after paying this amount your bill will be far lesser than what otherwise the auto rickshaws fleece.
– Now, an Auto plies on the streets for no less than 10-12 hours. Even if I conservatively say, it services 10 customers in a day. It amounts to Rs. 200/- Nirmal foundation earns from every auto every day.
– For an estimated 15,000 auto rickshaws that ply on the roads under G-Auto, the collections is 15,000 * 200 every day. That amounts 30 lacs a day!
– Nirmal’s target is to create 10 Lakh auto rickshaw power by 2020!
– Does that end there? No. Since G-AUto has become a reliable and security giving brand, every company wants to associate and reach out to the end-customer. Nirmal now gets various services, like the Airport express service, branded. It was called ‘State Bank of India – Airport express service’, if I remember correctly when I got into the G-Auto from Airport on that day in 2010. The announcement inside the Auto said, “Welcome to State Bank of India, world-class G-Auto service”. The Auto becomes a great space to engage with your prospective customer with all the collaterals like brochures and leaflets thrown into the beautifully styled auto. Every such deal is going to fetch a few lakhs every month. And many such sponsors are queing up to create a multi-crore stream there. Nirmal shared, “Now my work has become more of networking business that adds immense value to every partner who partners with us.”
I will not be surprised if G-Auto makes about Rs. 100-120 Crores a year for Nirmal Foundation. This has helped Nirmal to venture into many more social transformation projects like — ‘CoCoFresh’ to help street hawkers, ‘Umeed’ for skills education of urban marginal youth, ‘Nirmaljobs’ for deploying all the trained youth into gainful jobs. I can visualize a grand transformational NIRMAL FOUNDATION spanning the entire country in the years to come.
In fact, Nirmal, a couple of years ago, asked me whether I know of young, dynamic entrepreneurial youngsters who want to take G-Auto endeavor to their own cities. I have been sharing this possibility with youth in every city that I do my sessions in, challenging youngsters to jump at the opportunity to impact themselves and also their own city, in every way. Are you ready for the game? If so, write to me firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://www.g-auto.org and write to Nirmal directly