India clocks 200,000 car crash deaths a year. A startup’s plan to help
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Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Founded last month, Zaiuto operates in the Noida area and connects unlucky car owners with mechanics

Tech in Asia

So, you’re riding along in a car with the sounds of the road lulling you into a bit of a daze when there’s a loud sound and a sudden jolt, followed by that dreaded lumpy ride feel. You’ve got a flat tire – just another thing on your to-do list that you have to worry about.

So what do you do?

Well, if Noida-based on-demand roadside assistance and car care startup Zaiuto (based on the Italian word aiuto, which means “help”) has its way, you just pull over and pull out your smartphone – they’re available 24/7 to get someone to come and put air in your tire for you. Or give you a bit of gas if you decided to pass one fuel station too many. Or handle your breakdowns. They’ll even help you get your keys out of your car if you get locked out.

The Android app launched this month and is free to download. Customers only pay after the services have been rendered. A partner app is available for car workshops and roadside assistance agencies, and founding partner Daksh Sharma says an iOS version is likely to pop up in a couple of months.

Founded last month, Zaiuto operates in the Noida area and connects unlucky car owners with mechanics. Founding partners Daksh and Sunny Jindal have been working together for more than a decade, first as colleagues, then as co-founders in 2010 for marketing and social media company Iffort.

Breakdowns in India can be a complicated affair, says Daksh, who, as a car owner, has used several roadside assistance programs in the past. He has clocked several hours waiting for help in the past. He even spent the night stuck on the road due to a breakdown once – which inspired the birth of Zaiuto.

The idea behind Zaiuto is that you should be able to have an Uber-like experience with roadside assistance. When users need help, they can boot up the app and see who’s available nearby. Then, they pick their problem and enter the make, model, and version of their vehicle. The price of the service pops up and if the user approves it, the nearest mechanic is sent over. Users can track when help will arrive.

Safety features

Photo credit: Pixabay.

Photo credit: Pixabay.

Getting around India’s city traffic can be a nightmare. Several apps have popped up to make your smartphone the best weapon you can use in this situation, from ride-sharing apps tochauffeur apps trying to reduce the number of cars on the road and the stress involved in driving.

Mumbai-based car service provider MotoMojo. is an app that connects car or bike owners with service stations, while GirnarSoft, the company behind online car marketplaces CarDekho,Gaadi, and Zigwheels acquired roadside assistance provider Help on Wheels last month in an attempt to improve roadside assistance in the country.

What Zaiuto wants to do is help prevent panic on the roads by instantly sending out for help when crashes occur.

Last year, an estimated 17 Indians out of every 100,000 were killed in road-related accidents. Zaiuto’s helping to bring down that number through a partnership with San Francisco-based vehicle safety app Zendrive, which has raised US$15 million in funding from investors including Sherpa Capital, First Round Capital, BMW i Ventures, Nyca Partners, Thomvest Ventures, and Bill Ford of Fontinalis Partners. Zendrive was founded in 2013 and uses mobile sensor data to give you insight on roads, your driving, and the drivers around you.

Features of the Zaiuto app include automatic collision detection, which will alert the family and friends of the app user via text and email. If the crash occurs at a speed over 50 kph, the location coordinates of the crash will be forwarded to the contact as well.

If a person gets into an accident, they might not be able to use the app to help them out, Daksh tells Tech in Asia. With this feature, if a user isn’t able to call for help, hopefully someone else will be able to get him or her aid. The team was trying to figure out if they needed to build something on their own when they found Zendrive.

Companies like Mobileye already offer collision-detection sensors for cars that then send the information to smartphones, but Zaiuto’s app-based approach is a good idea in India’s smartphone-centric market.

An end to the waiting game?

Photo credit: Pixabay

Photo credit: Pixabay

Daksh says partnering with mechanics was a challenge primarily because of language and education barriers, but Zaiuto currently has 12 workshops on its app available every five to seven kilometers in Noida.

The mechanics have been trained to use the program. Daksh says that he’s impressed with their enthusiasm; sometimes they even pose as customers just to request other mechanics because they find the app “cool.”

Zaiuto currently has 150 active users. Next month, the app will expand to include Bangalore – just in time for the summer and monsoon seasons, when waiting for help with a car breakdown can become even more aggravating.

The founders also hope to expand into other car services beyond roadside assistance like vehicle washing and painting.

This post was originally published on Tech in Asia

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Kylee McIntyre

About Kylee McIntyre


Kylee loves telling startup stories. She’s passionate about science fiction, serial storytelling, social justice, public health and travel. Contact her on Twitter @ejkyleem.

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