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Jatri Founder and CEO Aziz Arman Talks Smart Mobility Solution to Enhance Public Transportation Systems, Jatri’s Business, and Running a Startup

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Jatri is the first bus tracking and digital ticketing platform in Bangladesh. Founded in 2019, the company aims to transform public transportation in Bangladesh and beyond through improving the experience of public transportation, enabling bus operators to run more efficiently, and empowering cities to improve public transportation systems by using technology. Large-scale transportation options, such as buses, offer a far better and efficient solution to transportation challenges facing emerging cities in the developing world than other small-scale ride-hailing options. To that end, Jatri can effectively become an important piece of public transportation solution in cities across markets.

The company has recently raised a highly publicized seed round, which many called one of the biggest seed rounds ever in Bangladesh, from a diverse set of investors who have funded or been involved in many leading modern mobility companies such as Bolt, Uber, Bird, Angkas, Yassir, Buseet, and Rappi. With the new investment, the company aims higher and eyes to “help cities enhance their public transport systems across the region.”

We recently caught up with Jatri Co-founder and CEO Aziz Arman to have a better understanding of Jatri’s business, how the company operates, the state of its business and its long-term ambition, the business of new mobility solutions, what does it take to raise investment, the anatomy of running a startup, and psychological aspects of being a founder and much more.

Future Startup: Could you please tell us about your background and your path to entrepreneurship?

Aziz Arman: I am the CEO and co-founder of Jatri, a tech startup dedicated to solving everyday mobility issues. Using our app, we’ve mapped all buses with real-time locations into our app, enhancing and improving your commute momentously.

Jatri was founded back in early 2019 with two buses that traversed through only one route. Today, a year later, we have 100+ buses and 30K+ unique users on our platform. Commuting has always been an integral part of our everyday lives, so we knew that we would need to address commuting issues in an intuitive and meaningful manner. That realization is where Jatri came from.

I am a Computer Engineering graduate and began work lıfe startıng in a fashion-tech company. I used my experiences there to familiarize myself with the start-up scene.

During my undergrad, I traveled to some technologically advanced countrıes to present my published research papers. I decided to use the opportunity to contact potentıal investors and get the ball rolling on my dream of being an entrepreneur.

Future Startup: When and how did you get started with Jatri? What motivated you to start Jatri?

Aziz Arman: I always wanted to explore the field of entrepreneurship but I couldn’t decide which sector to enter. The solution came to me whilst I was doing something most people have to regularly- commuting.

I looked into the main issues that people come across when using public transport – inconsistent timetables, payment difficulties, ever-changing routes.

Looking for ways to solve these issues, I began to explore potential ideas with my partners, Khandokar Taswar Zahin, Zia U Ahmed.

After months of elaborate discussions, we settled on a plan to make commuting stress-free.

After makıng the MVP,  we pıtched to our angel ınvestor Fahım Saleh and he guıded us to make ıt and thus, Jatri was born.

Jatri app, web screenshot

Future Startup: What went into building the initial operation of Jatri? Please walk us through what the first few months of your journey were like and the challenges you faced.

Aziz Arman: The fun part of being a tech start-up is that we had to focus on and micromanage a lot of factors simultaneously. On one hand, we were building a tech team to create the best product possible and on the other hand, we were contacting bus owners to introduce them to our services.

The first few months were pretty rough. It took a few missteps before we finally paved our way forward. We had an idea that had never been implemented before in Bangladesh, so we had to educate both commuters and transport operators on how our technology worked and how it could enhance their lives and businesses.

A notable challenge we faced whilst pitching our ideas to bus companies was that many operators didn’t initially grasp how our product could support their services. We made sure to take the time to establish how to present our product to demonstrate its ability to enhance bus operations and boost ridership.

Future Startup: Could you please give us an overview of Jatri in terms of services you offer, how many users you have, the size of your business, etc?

Aziz Arman: We are the first bus tracking and digital ticketing platform in Bangladesh. Around 47% of commuters use buses daily, and they struggle with unscheduled buses, long queues, immeasurable waiting times, and more regularly. Passengers are often picked up and dropped off at random points instead of the designated areas. Bus companies had no way to regulate how their buses were functioning, as the drivers and helpers would resort to corruption to make extra cash.

That’s where we come in. We offer real-time tracking and digital ticketing services of buses via an app-based platform – users can subscribe to our services, plan their trips, and track buses, and secure tickets.

We are operating on 100+ buses right now and growing every day. In less than a year since our launch, we have attracted 30k+ users, who have used our digital ticketing service to complete 50k+ rides.

As for bus companies, we constantly collect real-time information on bus locations, data on passenger quantity, and reviews from customers to ensure that every bus ride is smooth and seamless.

Future Startup: From a product perspective, how does Jatri work as a platform? How do you work with your partners? How does the tech part work?

Aziz Arman: We provide trip planning services to our passengers. We serve our operator partners with accurate analytics on their bus trips. In the future, we are also hoping to invite regulators to utilize our data for urban planning purposes.

By receiving feedback from our users, we can look at the city from a birds’ eye view and determine how changes could be made to current transportation options to create a greener city as well as serve our users in the best possible manner.

Future Startup: How big is your team? Could you tell us about your culture at Jatri?

Aziz Arman: We currently have about 25 employees. It’s a fast-paced workplace but we’ve been able to foster a strong and diverse work culture by selecting strong talent.

While looking for team members, we were astonished to see the talent and potential these people possess. All members of our team share a strong work ethic and a result-driven approach. We’re all very enthusiastic about Jatri, making it easy for us to overcome obstacles and venture ahead.

Future Startup: What are the lessons you’ve learned in terms of growing a business? What other entrepreneurs can learn from your growth journey?

Aziz Arman: The journey of entrepreneurship is truly a continuous learning process – and it never really changes.

That said, an important lesson I’ve learned is how to effectively use determination. Many people confuse determination with inflexibility – this can be a fatal attitude in business. Rather, in the words of Jeff Bezos, entrepreneurs need to be “flexibly stubborn.” In other words, they must be stubborn in the pursuit of their vision but be flexible in the execution of how they get there.

When my co-Founders and I established Jatri, we wanted to develop a technology that would improve the passenger experience for public transport commuters. However, we envisaged it would have been through a B2C platform, tailor-made for Bangladesh. This was a challenge because technology alone could not create a better passenger experience, the real change would be driven by the bus operators and the technology would enable them to provide better services. So, upon further discussion with our team members and advisors, we were able to create a B2B platform that supported bus operators.

Once we got their buy-in, we were able to execute the requisite change management more seamlessly. Most importantly, we ended up with a more comprehensive technology platform, which has received interest from major public transportation regulators and operators in key markets outside of Bangladesh.      

The crux of the story is that by being “flexibly stubborn” in the execution of our vision, we were able to stumble upon a larger market opportunity than we ever imagined for our product.

Future Startup: You have recently raised your seed investment, what are the plans now? With the new capital, what are some areas you will be investing in?

Aziz Arman: We’re currently workıng on developıng further partnerships with bus operators to expand into new routes. We see a real opportunity to provide our services and help cities enhance their public transport systems across the region.

We aim to expand our services to other cıtıes around the continent. Our goal is to become the leadıng bus hailing app in Asia.

Our partners at bus companies have already benefited from the data analytics provided through our app, enabling them to detect and identify the factors they should improve.

We firmly believe that by improving the quality of public transportation, we can inspire commuters to leave their vehicles behind at home.

We can build up a cleaner and greener world, one commuter at a time. We hope that through our product & team efforts, we will be able to reduce congestion and carbon emissions in the long run. 

Future Startup: What does it take to raise investment? What should founders, who are trying to raise investment, be mindful of?

Aziz Arman: From my experience, I would emphasize proper financial planning according to the set mılestones.

Entrepreneurs must keep the mindset of paving the road to profitability no matter how difficult it may be.

Always keep the end goal in mind and be prepared to take risks when necessary.

Every second has ıts value. If one can achieve then ıts direct success, ıt that’s not then ıt will be learning which will help to think more practically ın future. The journey may be hard, but it definitely is worth the obstacles in the end.

Future Startup: How do you deal with challenges and stress that come with being a founder?

Aziz Arman: Despite all my work, I make sure to consistently take care of myself so that I’m in a clear headspace whenever needed.

I journal often to record and track developments, ideas, strategies.

I’m also very fortunate to be part of an innovative, experıenced, and cohesive team – we have worked hard to develop a strong organizational culture within the company. Every time we face drawbacks, we co-operate and share the workload responsibly- helping us build trust amongst ourselves.

Future Startup: What advice would you give to founders who are just starting out?

Aziz Arman: A key aspect of being an entrepreneur is definitely about mindset. Be focused on your dreams and believe in yourself. Make sure to stick to your goals. Build up your mindset to endure all hardships.

I would especially like to emphasize clear vısıon, networking, and developing partnerships. But it also important to have a strong practical foundation – I would recommend gaining some prior experience, doing your research, and developing a network of partners and mentors.

Make sure to set long-term goals to keep your product useful and relevant in the long run.

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Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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