An Excerpt from the Interview:
What made you start your venture?
We travelled, extensively, in India by road – to Chennai, to Bangalore, to Pune, to Dwarka in Gujarat, to Delhi and came across number of toll roads. While the good part is – the condition of roads is improving tremendously and the driving is fun but the toll plazas have become traffic choke points and there are always long waiting queues.
We found ourselves asking -what is the use of creating world class roads if we have to wait in long queues, to pay the toll fees. We realized that the current system required an overhaul.
What has been the key to your business’s success?
I would say, determination, a focused approach and customer centricity is a key to any business’ success and that is what we have also followed. It has helped in creating a state-of-the-art solution and very convincing value proposition for our customers.
What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
We faced typical start-up challenges, such as no money, no team, no place to work etc. You take on one challenge at a time, solve that, and pick up the next challenge.
In terms of business challenges, we were entering into a typical market segment and not entering into segment such as e-commerce or education which are sunrise industries and seeing a lot of start-up action. People’s understanding of this segment is very limited, especially investors and it is perceived as a segment heavily infested with corruption and influence.
Also a major challenge was that toll collection is a very fault intolerant operation (meaning the system failure would lead to long queues or accidents), in hostile environment (like temperature above 50ºC, or working at a toll plaza where the nearest habitation is 50kms away, no/limited internet connectivity in rural places) etc. and this increased our development time substantially.
Another challenge was breaking into the highway developer’s club. This is a very small club and getting into this club is not easy for a start-up which is not from the same domain of highway building or toll collection.
Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business? Yes, we have a set of advisors that guide us through day to day activities and help us achieve our goals. Having said that, the greatest mentors are the customers. The customers often tell us what they want and what they expect from the product / offering / service / company. At MTolls, we try to learn from the customers and they dictate our actions.
Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
MTolls “One Tag – Any Gate” technology ensures that one tag will work at multiple toll plazas or at any MTolls enabled gate. Hence, multiple toll plazas, customers such as vehicle owners interact with MTolls.
At any time, thousands of the toll plaza machines interact with the MTolls headquarters and updates the vehicles millions of transactions and the vehicle owners can log on to the MTolls website to check their account. This requires MTolls service to be highly available, highly fault tolerant as any problem can lead to accidents, we leverage our system on the cloud computing. The cloud computing enables us to scale up and down our operations as per the system requirement.
What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
MTolls enables cashless automated electronic toll collection for Toll Plazas. MTolls aims at reducing frauds and enable smooth cashless toll collection for the toll plazas. MTolls will also be enabling the vehicle owners and fleet operators and with the use of the MTolls tag, the toll road users can pass through the toll plazas without stopping and it will be a cashless toll payment.
MTolls takes great pride in engaging with the customers to understand their problem and provide the value. When we do so, our product becomes better and customer also has higher satisfaction level. MTolls will expand into the parking charge collection for commercial parking lots and also enable authorized residential / office parking lot.
But at this time, we are heavily focussed on the Toll Plaza segment that is where the toll plaza are facing issues such as losing revenue and compliance issues.
What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
The three skills that successful entrepreneur needs are:
• “Unfaltering self believe” in whatever you are doing. The entrepreneur will need to literally bet everything on the enterprise he/she is running and at such times his/her belief in his/her enterprise will be repeatedly questioned.
Further, in the initial stages there will be a lot of folks who would discourage the entrepreneur and will be nay-sayers to the enterprise. Again his/her unfaltering passion and belief will help him/her to sustain his/her commitment to their business.
• Second, very important skill is the ability to start running towards his/her enterprise goal without the loss of the enthusiasm in the event of any failure. For a start-up, there is no-mistake, no-failure guide. In a start-up, the entrepreneurs will be betting on doing things in a new way and when you are trying to bring something new, you will make a lot of mistakes. You will fail in many times.
The founders will trip on the stumbling blocks and fail. But the entrepreneur is one who gets up from the failure, finds innovative solutions to his/her failure, and keeps on working towards success. You may also call this perseverance but I call it “getting from the failure and strive towards to the goal”.
• The important third skill for the entrepreneur is that the “humble-ness”. Starting an enterprise means that you leave your posh air-conditioned room office and working in a small one room office where the entrepreneur would be doing everything from building business plan, doing business development, developing his/her product by coding, and also cleaning his/her office every day.
Without humble-ness, the entrepreneur will find it very difficult to work through all the tasks. Without humble-ness he/she will not take/receive the feedback constructively and take corrective steps.
The entrepreneur needs to keep on learning every day, make mistake, re-tweak the strategy, and prepare again for failure/success. Without humble-ness, the learning becomes difficult. Establishing a start-up is a very humbling experience.
Know more about Mtolls, visit their website http://www.mtolls.com Like them on Facebook: Mtolls