Taxshe: Training Women to become professional drivers.

TAXSHE is a Bangalore based startup started by Vandana Suri.  This organisation was founded with the purpose to train women to become a professional driver.
“Have over 2 decades of work experience and today am a cabbie and loving it!”, says Vandana.
We got an opportunity to talk with Vandana, the founder of Taxsheide. And I am sure; her story will inspire you. Let’s look at the journey and see how she and her team are working hard to help their clients with woman drivers.
TAXSHE Founder: Vandana Suri

 

 

Give a brief info about your startup?
TAXSHE  in an organisation which trains women from underprivileged segments to become professional drivers.  These women drivers, in turn, drive a whole lot of kids to and fro school as well as women to offices.  It is a win-win for both the poor women and the society as a whole
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
This addresses the issue of women and child safety.  Women drivers are your best bet against child sexual abuse. Plus it address an issue in India of the lack of respect for blue collared staff.  These people contribute a lot to our smooth lifestyles, its high time to change the stand.  Here the women are taking care of the kid’s safety, and are much in demand.  The society also understands the extra effort taken by these women and gives them the well-deserved respect
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
I have been an investment banker, worked with various organisations like ABN AMRO, Standard Chartered Bank, Aditya Birla Money, and Trust Plutus to name a few.  Have over 2 decades of work experience and today am a cabbie and loving it!
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
My startup is based out of Bangalore.  I live in Bangalore, so this is a natural market for me, we set up a working business model here.  We now look forward to expanding over 10 cities all over India
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
Thats a tough question!  Lots of things.  The biggest worry I have is about the drives the next day.  You see we drive over 350+ children to school every morning.  And the women drivers are just 25 currently, its very difficult to find women who will join this career and retain them as well.  So if any lady takes a leave, I become the backup driver for that day.  If if 2 take leave, then the jugglery is absolute chaos!  So thats one thing that bothers me.
The other bit that keeps me awake in the night is monitoring these women drivers while they do late night airport pickups and drops.  We monitor them live on GPS and even if we have a team who checks, sometimes I do this myself as well. Just to ensure the system works well.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
 There are hardly any women drivers based organisation.  A few scattered across the country.  I would say probably just about 150-200 women drivers across India, too few for the huge population we have.  So there is enough space for a harmonious work environment as of now.  Moreover, in my understanding, we are the only women cab organisation based on driving and picking children from school.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
That’s a jugglery we all women face with huge responsibilities. I think the best way to handle this is to take work home and make a home at work!  See, my whole family is equally emotionally invested in my work, they are my biggest supporters.  They understand the pain and the hardships we face.  On the other than, these women we train to become like our children, an extended family.  Their workplace becomes their second home.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
We have raised funds from our close circle of friends and family as of now.  We intend to raise about 3 crores now for our expansion plans.  We plan to train and employ 4000 women over the next 5 years
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
 I don’t think people have any misconception about me and TAXSHE.  Or at least I have not come across it as of now.  Aah yes, sometimes people ask me if TAXSHE is all about women giving services to file their taxes! This seems to come up every now and then.  Then I have to explain no this is TAXSHE, a female version of TAXI!
What gets you excited about this company?
 The ripple effect caused by TAXSHE.  Like it mentioned, on one hand, its empowering women.  Some of the girls have started making Rs.60000/- per month after 1 year of being in the system, yes you got it right, they are earning Rs 60000 every month now.  Can you imagine what happens with such an income, they have moved from below poverty line to becoming taxpayers now.  They now have 2 wheelers, washing machines, microwaves!  They now dream of owning their own homes, planning their child’s future education.  It is a big social change
And think of the ripple caused by children and women who are safe.  Such a big relief leaves you to work in peace.  Working in peace enhances your own productivity, which in turn is better profitability for your organisation.  Peace and harmony contributes to growth in the country’s GDP in turn.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
 I usually have my first drive every morning at 7.  Yes, I am a cabbie as much as any of my girls.  I believe in leading with action and not words.  So morning starts like every other woman, packing my child off to school, then I drive more kids to their school. Touch base early at the office, and work in the quiet.  Focused meetings with my team, planning meetings, banking meetings, and every day attention seekers.  By afternoon, the school pickups start again, so I am constantly in the firefighting mode, always on alert to ensure the system works smoothly, I might be required to be on a drive.  Post 5 things are a bit peaceful again, since all 350 children back home safely.  I reach back home about 8 pm and then dinner with my family (I usually never miss that one meal together).  Watch some tv and off to bed!
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Since I was born!  My brother Sushil Shroff is my co-founder, my mother is a director on board.  So we are a whole family sunk into this cause!  I started this out alone, and I don’t think anyone could have understood my passion and madness better than my own brother.  He joined me a few months later.  Today he is the backbone of the organisation, the entire operations is handled by him.  Right from the quality of training to client schedules to ironing out daily issues.  I usually become the face of the organisation while he is the unsung hero in reality!
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