Being a Cabbie Herself to Being The CEO of India’s First All-Women Startup: Revathi Keeps Driving Ahead!
From driving a taxi on the streets of Mumbai to setting up the country’s first hyper-local all-woman delivery startup Hey DeeDee, Revathi Roy has seen and done it all. Revathi, who is popularly known as a serial entrepreneur, has won the NITI Aayog’s Women Transforming India Award 2016.
Revathi’s tryst with entrepreneurship began in 2006. Two months before she started FORSCHE (pronounced FORSHE), Asia’s first women cab service, she lost her husband. But she streaked on and FORSCHE was launched on Women’s Day in 2007 with just three taxis. It was followed by VIIRA, a taxi service by women and for women.
Revathi’s most recent venture is Hey DeeDee. It mobilises women from low-income communities, trains them to drive two-wheelers and has them undertake last-mile delivery for companies like Amazon, Pizza Hut and Subway, among others.
The spark for all of this was Revathi’s own love for driving. Ever since she turned 18, Revathi has been behind wheels not just on the streets of Mumbai but also at car rallies. In fact, she came second at the Lavasa Women’s Drive in 2010.
Here’s the woman behind the wheels in her own words.
Revathi’s story in her own words:
My journey really started way back in 2006 when I first conceptualized the concept of women commercial drivers out of just my own passion of driving and the fact that I was a teetotaller. Dropping drunk friends home was my so-called duty after every party. I realized much later in life that I was actually doing quite a thankless a job because no one would remember the next morning or be grateful that I had dropped them home safely.
A thought was then born. I decided to turn this into a commercial venture where I would get paid to do this.
Having done that, it was now important to actually roll it out. And that’s where the hitch was, because there were hardly any women who were willing to become commercial drivers for 10-12 hours to earn a living. Livelihood by driving was unheard of. Also, a “driver’s” job was not really considered hot and happening. It was literally 12 hours of sweat.
So, I decided that it would be me who would take to the wheels and become a driver in the true sense of the word. Thus, began my journey and I drove on the streets of Mumbai for 10 months as a taxi driver. I had to beg a friend who ran a tourist taxi business to give me a few cars which he did. My rally driving of course helped. And FORSCHE (pronounced as FORSHE ) was born.
I haven’t looked back from there.
Sources of strength:
Clearly my family. My Mom was alive then. At a time when my Dad and my husband both passed away, it was she and my parents-in-law who gave me the strength and the courage to move on. They would look after my children who were young then, and ensure that I did not have any household responsibilities. And I was free to do my job.
Needless to say, my children are also my sources of strength. They keep me grounded.
Moment of courage:
Everyday was a moment of courage because we started with absolutely no money and no resources. Money was among the biggest issues - one at least needs money for petrol, diesel, etc. When I started out, I had no funds whatsoever. Being on the roads (like I did when I drove around a taxi for a good ten months) required a lot of guts. But because I drove the cab myself, I was able to motivate the girls.
Kudos for being able to man the wheels of your vehicles, business and life alike! You are certainly an inspiration to many women who are unable to gather themselves after a loss!
Wish you success and joy in all your future endeavours!
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