The ride-sharing platform Pathao is one of the fastest growing e-commerce service providers in Bangladesh. The IT firm’s most popular service to date is a motorbike sharing service based on a smartphone app.
The consumer-friendly ride sharing service has overtaken taxi and CNG auto rickshaw rental services by offering its customers a better way to avoid traffic jam in the mega city.
Car-sharing services gradually became popular across the globe in the past few years, but the idea of motorbike sharing is favoured in only a few cities. Now Dhaka has become one of them.
Pathao began as a delivery service in 2015, using its fleet of motorbikes. The service proved to be quite popular, due to the growing demand of reliable e-commerce delivery services in Dhaka. In October 2016, Pathao decided to introduce motorcycle ride sharing service, after learning about Uber’s plans to introduce the service in Dhaka.
Pathao’s ride sharing platform has now become a familiar name alongside other popular services such as Uber, Grab or OLA. In spite of the popularity, Pathao is not the pioneer in motorcycle-based ride-sharing in Bangladesh. That honour rests with Share-A-Motorcycle - SAM, which started on May 7, 2016. But Pathao's functionality and ease of service propelled them across the board.
The service operates on a simple principal. When in need of a ride, a person can send a pick-up request through the Pathao smartphone app, and then meet with the rider at a designated point. The rider then drops the passenger to his or her destination. The fare is fixed, and is calculated by the app based on the starting point and the destination. Motorbikes can offer fast movement through the capital, which is not possible for CNG-run auto rickshaws and cars.
According to Pathao, the company has around 300,000 riders and users measured based on the number of downloads of their apps. City dwellers are making thousands of trips per day, and they are satisfied with the service in general.
Go-Jek, which is a popular bike-sharing service in Indonesia, has 200,000 registered drivers. Go-Jek has fallen behind Pathao in terms of sheer number of users.
Who are the people behind Pathao?
Not some big businessmen, but three university graduates came up with a solution to commute quicker around the city.
Hussain M Elius, a North South University alumnus, Shifat Adnan, a graduate from Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (RUET), and Fahim Saleh from Bentley University in the US co-founded the company together in 2015.
Both Shifat and Fahim have graduated in computer science and engineering from their respected universities.
Fahim, who lives in New York, envisioned a venture in Bangladesh with the intention to help, rather than focus on profit maximisation. Elius and Shifat had been working together to create tech solutions.
Their initial idea was to deliver goods and products to their clients across the city fast. Therefore Pathao initially worked as a logistics service provider for traders.
They relied on using a motorbike to deliver products, since it is comparatively quicker than a car or any other vehicle to commute in traffic-filled Dhaka. Pathao was formulated with the sole intention of cutting commuting time.
Co-founder and CEO Hussain Elius said: “Pathao is now one of the fastest growing start-up e-commerce service providers in Bangladesh, which has developed tangible solutions to battle the traffic congestion in Dhaka.”
“The IT firm also provides e-hailing services, where the drivers and potential passengers can communicate via the Pathao app and move across the city, by sharing a bike. So, riders can earn a bit of money while the passenger can travel quicker,” he added.
Since there are 400,000 motorbikes in Dhaka, Pathao plans to utilise them efficiently.
Meanwhile, several new motorcycle companies plan on manufacturing bikes in the country, therefore increasing the number of motorbikes in the city. Pathao plans on utilising this opportunity and become more useful in the near future.
Pathao wanted to make logistics as easy as sending an email. Elius and his fellow co-founders wanted to leverage the wonders of technology to bring a paradigm shift in how goods are transported.
They believe their e-delivery service will have an impact on Dhaka in making life easier for the city-dwellers.