Raida needs to commute frequently between Dhanmondi, Mirpur and Gulshan. Having gone through the frustration of depending on the whims of CNG drivers for going between these places for her work, Raida distinctly remembers breathing a sigh of relief when Uber started at the end of 2016. But Uber rides are expensive for frequent commuting and Dhaka’s inescapable traffic made it not worth the investment. Raida quickly found herself taking advantage of Pathao, another ride sharing service with motorbikes.
“I always put my bag between me and the driver. Even though I have found the drivers to be very accommodating, the unease of squeezing yourself against a strange man still remains,” Raida said.
Raida’s uneasiness is shared by many women who do not avail the bike ride services only because of this reason. And that is precisely why Syed Md Saif and Shah Md Tushar started Lily Technology & Services Ltd earlier this year.
A bike ride sharing service for women and by women riders, Lily launched its service on December 2 in the Dhaka city. “We are providing services to fixed customers as well; mainly for working women - mostly from Gulshan, Banani and Motijheel official areas,” said Syed Md Saif, who is also the CEO of Lily.
But no matter how good and practical the business is, Bangladeshi startups inevitably struggle because of a lack of a venture capital (VC) ecosystem. Lily, too, started with personal funding. “As a startup we initially received our funding from friends and family and now going through negotiation phase with few potential investors,” Saif told Weekend Tribune.
Lily developed its software not just locally but completely in-house. “The software is developed in-house under my supervision,” said co-founder and the chief technology officer Tushar. It took nearly a year to develop it and Lily was able to launch before the first anniversary of the company.
In an increasingly service conscious market a ride sharing business will ultimately rely very much on well trained and skilled riders. Lily seems to understand that too. “We conduct trainings on our application usage, safety and professionalism while serving our passengers,” Saif informed.
With Tk25 base fare, Tk13 per kilometre and Tk0.50 per minute, Lily claims to “provide the lowest pricing when it comes to female ride sharing service.” Raida’s estimated fare was Tk170 for Dhanmondi 8/A to a little further up Gulshan 1. She thought it was a reasonable fare with very agreeable service.
[caption id="attachment_236958" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Courtesy
Lily has received very positive response within the short period since its launch. “We are getting massive response from the female population of Dhaka City who have been waiting for such services for a long time,” Saif said.
Saif says that Lily is “the first tech based service platform in Bangladesh, which is dedicated only for women.” In addition to that Lily has a few other things in the pipeline, which Saif said will be announced soon. By the end of 2018, Saif envisions, Lily will become a dependable platform for women in their daily lives. Lily also has plans to expand outside Dhaka city and soon will be operating outside of Bangladesh with a few other services and features.