The mobility or ride-hailing industry currently encompasses many services catering to different nations. However, no one has ever tried to democratize booking a cab. Most of the time, the customers have to face cab cancellation and surge pricing. The personnel we interviewed today have been helping an organization that has bridged this gap. Furthermore, they are trying to democratize the process for customers and drivers. We are talking about inDrive.
The inception of inDrive traces back to New Year’s Eve in Yakutsk in 2012. This happened when there was a colossal increase in the region's taxi fare price amidst -45 degree temperature. This unfair scenario spurred a social-media-driven initiative where citizens united in requesting, offering, and agreeing on fair ride prices. inDrive emerged as a community-led democratized transportation solution. Today, inDrive operates in over 48 countries and provides justice-driven mobility services.
Therefore, without further details, let’s proceed with this interview. However, before that, let's learn more about our guest for today.
Who is Adam Warner?
1) How would you describe your career experience till now?
For me, it has primarily been about focusing on people and processes. These two elements are crucial in any leadership position, regardless of the organization or location worldwide.
2) What is the one leadership skill that is most useful in terms of ensuring a productive team?
I have always found that effective one-on-one communication and distilling conveying messages at the individual level is crucial. This approach is hypercritical not only to gain engagement but also to secure buy-in from your team.
Ultimately, it helps drive results for your organization. I refer to it as 'managing to the individual' (MTI), and I integrate this principle into everything I do daily. This ensures that my team also practices it consistently every day at work.
3) How do you ensure successful results when managing teams in a larger organization that embraces tech at a different pace?
Top leadership buy-in is hypercritical. It's essential to ensure that leadership at every level supports and encourages tech adoption. Leaders should set an example by embracing new technology themselves first and foremost.
Secondly, establishing a robust feedback loop is crucial. Creating a system where teams can provide input on the tech adoption process allows for real-time adjustments and addressing issues promptly.
Lastly, being flexible with the transition is important. In our current organization at inDrive, a seemingly simple tech adoption, like transitioning everyone to Slack for internal communications, requires an understanding that all tech adoption takes time. Avoid imposing rigid rules for adoption and let the transition occur organically over time. Being realistic about timelines is critical. So, in summary, leadership buy-in, feedback loop, and gradual transition are all critical aspects to consider.
4) When you say a feedback loop, is it from a customer’s perspective or within the team?
It just depends on the type of technology you're looking for. With the Slack adoption I was referring to, ensuring that you receive regular feedback from your team is crucial.
Inquiring about their experience, understanding obstacles, addressing frequently asked questions, and identifying the right stakeholders or early adopters to assist with the transition of that particular technology are important aspects to consider.
5) Talking about your journey, what made you join inDrive?
Working in the ridesharing space and spending significant time at Lyft helped me closely engage with various processes in the United States. I gained numerous takeaways and valuable insights.
With inDrive expanding globally and entering the U.S. market, I'm leveraging the lessons acquired at Lyft. Shifting into this new venture, starting from scratch, and reshaping our approach in the United States is an exciting challenge.
I thrive on challenging myself and others, as it is a fundamental way we learn and grow. The opportunity to apply these learnings at inDrive is a no-brainer for me. I am thrilled to contribute to the launch of our U.S. mission and play a role in disrupting the marketplace. Overall, I am genuinely excited about this endeavor at inDrive.
6) inDrive’s motto is challenging injustice. What injustice exists in the mobility industry, and how does it negatively impact society?
When considering the injustices in the mobility space, it boils down to affordability. Vehicles themselves are costly, often constituting one of the most significant purchases for many people worldwide. This leads to various injustices and pay inequities globally.
When combined with high transportation costs, fuel expenses, and maintenance, these financial burdens disproportionately affect individuals with limited incomes. Challenging these injustices in mobility is crucial for fostering a more equitable and sustainable society.
This involves creating transportation systems that are accessible, safe, affordable, and environmentally responsible. inDrive's commitment to challenging these injustices is crucial to our founder and is a principle we bring to the United States. We aim to positively change this landscape and contribute to a more just and equitable mobility ecosystem.
7) Does inDrive have to operate differently to appeal to developed markets?
I initially thought that, especially in developed countries, there wouldn't be many circumstances for negotiating services. When opening a ride-sharing app in the United States, there aren't many choices regarding the ride's cost, driver, or type of vehicle.
Negotiation isn't a common practice in these situations. Considering the inDrive concept and its application in developed countries, I had to ask myself and my team how we would embrace the ability to negotiate in a marketplace that isn't accustomed to such options.
Initially, I believed we might need to change our approach. However, since launching in the current state, I've realized we don't need to adapt. The Freedom of Choice model has been widely successful and more adopted than I initially thought. It's been a great question that kept me up many nights before the launch.
While we always have the option to change our approach, given the success in developed countries like Australia and our early wins in the United States, I see that not having to adapt or change our model is working to our benefit. It positions us as a significant player in developed countries.
8) Could you tell me how your app was developed and works?
Yeah, absolutely. What's interesting about how this application works is you open it up, just like any other ride-sharing app you might use today. Let's say you want to go from the airport to a hotel 10 miles down the road. You input your destination and current location, like any other app. Here's where the change starts to happen.
Let's say I will pay $20 for this ride in this example. I enter $20, and that amount is broadcasted to every driver with the app open and available within a certain radius of me.
Every driver then sees that I want to do this ride, specifying from the airport to the hotel, and I'm willing to pay $20. At this point, all drivers have the opportunity and choice to bid on providing that service. They can say, 'Yes, I'm willing to do the ride for $20,' or if they have a larger or luxury vehicle, maybe they bid $24. So, they submit their bids, and on my app, I see seven or eight different offers from different drivers, showing their ratings, distance, the price they're willing to accept, or if they accept my bid.
At this stage, I get to choose who I want to pick me up, click the button, accept, and I'm on my way. It's a truly peer-to-peer system, quite different from our U.S. counterparts, as I'm not setting the price—the negotiation is entirely between the driver and the passenger. Having that choice and control over the talks is fascinating for a simple and seamless process. That's how it works, and it's a unique approach.
9) How does inDrive facilitate disagreements between the customer and rider during a bid?
Within the app, there is some ability to negotiate, and this back-and-forth is crucial to ensure fairness. We have certain levers to control this, especially in developed countries, such as implementing minimum ride fares. These act as gatekeeping measures, preventing someone from coming in and offering rides for unrealistically low amounts. While we have these gatekeeping mechanisms, it's still possible for someone to perceive a ride's value differently. For example, they might think a ride is only worth $5, while the marketplace value is $15.
We believe in a fair and free marketplace, enabling drivers and passengers to negotiate meaningfully. We've implemented unique gatekeeping features in the app, but I won't deny that there could be instances where passengers might want to negotiate lower fares. However, in my experience, drivers are unlikely to accept such low bids, especially in my world.
I don't force drivers to accept bids and want to ensure a fair marketplace for them. Their success is crucial for the entire business organization to function. It's important to me that both parties feel treated fairly because they are both extraordinarily important to us.
10) How does inDrive generate revenues while charging less commission than competitors?
In the tech space, especially with many global tech companies, there was a period of rapid expansion and growth, where hiring was extensive, and engineers were in high demand. However, this resulted in heavy overhead for these organizations.
When you have a surplus of staff and insufficient work to distribute among them, it can weigh down revenue opportunities. Looking at inDrive's business model and how we manage our overhead and teams, our ability to be agile with lean operational processes allows us to maintain low commissions—far below the 50-60% range.
Unlike competitors with many individuals managing various aspects like supply and demand levers, incentives for drivers, and passenger demand, our model is different. We eliminate the need for thousands of people working behind the scenes. Despite having a substantial global workforce, it is considerably less than some competitors in the United States, even though we operate in 48 countries and nearly 700 cities worldwide.
Our lean and efficient headcount and the freedom of choice in our application sets us apart. We don't saturate the marketplace with incentives, which means we don't need to charge passengers exorbitant fees or cut into driver earnings with high commissions. This gives us a significant advantage, something I am proud of, and I aim to continue these lean practices for our ongoing success.
11) How did inDrive cover the journey to become a comprehensive mobility platform?
Yeah, I think that when you're constantly looking at your own business and organization internally, if you're not innovating and iterating on your business model, that's typically a bad sign or decision.
Ultimately, inDrive is about continually looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking, 'How can we continue to improve? How do we improve 1% tomorrow over today's work?' That's what's happening internally among all the leaders within our organization. They're challenging themselves to think beyond the circumstances of just ride-hailing in general and continuing to diversify their portfolios, being ambitious about our global goals. So, look out for more from inDrive.
12) What are the biggest opportunities in the mobility industry?
I believe the mobility industry offers several significant opportunities to positively impact society, whether it's on the environment or the way people move.
Specifically, I see great potential in data-driven insights, especially for us, as we have large amounts of ride data. Thinking about optimizing transportation systems, predicting demand, and improving traffic flows are areas where we can contribute positively.
In this space, there's also a forward-thinking focus on connected infrastructure. Many players are investing in smart infrastructure, exploring concepts like vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. These advancements can enhance traffic management, reduce congestion, and improve transportation efficiency.
Anyone in this industry must consider leveraging data and emerging technology, incorporating them within the mobility space to stay at the forefront of these interesting developments. I believe that as we continue to advance in how people move about their cities, these innovations can truly have a positive impact and contribute to improving our overall quality of life.
13) How are you planning to use the power of AI to enhance your services?
You know, it's kind of interesting. Recently, we've had internal conversations where people ask through different surveys and communication methods about how we currently use AI and how we utilize it in our daily work.
Looking ahead, I think about AI, and the most straightforward connection for me is in customer support.
“Many organizations are transitioning to build their chatbots to assist their customer support teams, and I see that as a natural step for us.”
As a global organization, I also consider how we can use AI to enhance language support. While I may not know every language worldwide, can we leverage AI to translate effectively and facilitate communication with people worldwide? This provides an opportunity to offer better support, establish connections, provide empathy, and perform various tasks. I believe AI can achieve this and presents the opportunity for us to create unique, customer-driven support packages for users of our services globally.
14) How do you see inDrive evolve in the next five years?
So, that's a great question. I want to see us build bridges and continue expanding our service offerings to more cities worldwide, especially in developed countries.
Our ultimate strategy is to enhance our presence in developed countries in many more cities globally over the next five years. We aim to incorporate exciting features discussed during this call, from improved customer support to leveraging our data and analytics.
This will enhance our services for drivers and passengers and strengthen our partnerships with local community governments. Exploring how we can use this information to be a better overall partner is a key aspect of our strategy.
As long as we continue to be open-minded, as we are today, we'll be able to have a positive impact and make this happen over the next five years in our evolution. I'm excited to see it, and I hope you are too. Yes, of course!
15) What is the one thing that you can strongly suggest to budding leaders to build a productive, healthy, and long-term retained team?
In this world of information, how we get our news and communicate is faster than ever. Your team loses a lot of value from the failure to cultivate a culture of trust.
If you don't do that in an organization, people will leave, and you'll find yourself constantly dealing with the churn of hiring new people to help your organization grow. This, in my opinion, is not a very healthy approach. Building trust within your team fosters a positive work environment and enhances productivity and retention.
When people feel valued, supported, and respected, they stay. They grow, enhancing their skills and leading to positive business results. I believe that a culture of trust is crucial for any leader. It's essential to ask yourself what it means to you and your team.
Engage with your team members, ask them about their preferences, likes, and dislikes, and understand their needs. Being open and honest is super important for maintaining this culture of trust.
16) Lastly, suggest anything a new team leader or a leader should not do with the team.
“Oh, you definitely should understand that you are there to serve your team; it's not the other way around. I acknowledge the hierarchy in every organization, but my role as a leader, and for any junior leader continuing to grow, is to understand that you are nothing truly without your team.”
You need to recognize the value of the people around you. I lean into the philosophy that they do not serve you, you serve them. If you can grasp that concept, you will be a leader first and foremost. This mindset will contribute to your success and foster the growth of others around you. Seeing the growth of those you lead is the most satisfying aspect of being a leader.
- inDrive’s unique approach allows riders and drivers to negotiate fares
- Adam is committed to challenging injustice in the mobility sector around affordability and access
- Creating a feedback loop and flexible transition leads to successful tech integration
- inDrive maintains low commission rates by operating lean processes and efficient headcount management
- inDrive is looking to expand its services globally
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