Kickstart Cabs: Cars made for people, not roads

KickStart Cabs was started to address public commuting for the differently abled, an everyday issue for nearly 27 million of them in India.


It’s likely that if you have a disability, getting around depends on family, someone who’s willing to guide you, drive you around, and even carry you into the vehicle if the need arises. Public transport, if at all, is ruled out. Education in schools and colleges would depend on your ability to navigate steep staircases and broken lifts; if you do get from A to B in an uncomfortable car ride, you would probably come face to face with an awkwardly built staircase with no handrails. Going on holiday, especially to unfamiliar places, is definitely ruled out. These problems also apply to senior citizens and those recovering from surgeries – it’s hard to independently move about in India if you have the slightest challenge with movement.

Well, KickStart Cabs is here to change all that, to ferry you on the wheels of change. We speak to Vidhya, Director of KickStart Cabs, on the social enterprise that is stirring up an accessible movement revolution in Bangalore:

Origins: From the Himalayas on wheels to customized cabs

With a Masters in Social Work, Vidhya’s journey with access for the differently challenged began in Ladakh where she worked for 7 years, and was involved in starting one of India’s first wheel chair accessible travel companies in Ladakh, Himalaya On Wheels. She has also has performed access audits for a few hotels and guest houses to make it more accessible to PWDs (Persons With Disability). When it stopped being necessary for her to be in Ladakh all time, she moved to Bangalore and decided to work on something similar – mobility for the differently abled, an everyday issue for nearly 27 million people in India. This is when KickStart Cabs was started a few months ago. They now have 3 specialised cabs in Bangalore and are ready to expand to other cities.

So what’s special about KickStart?

From remodelling cabs to make it easy for persons with disability to get in to SMSs and drivers to literally sweep you off your feet – the cab service has accessibility at the core in every part of its product offering. For example, if you can’t hear, they send you a text message giving you updates about your cab. They have special wheelchair accessible cabs that don’t involve getting out of the wheelchair, or cars with the front seat that can be modified to act as a wheel chair. They also have an app for people to book cabs on their phones. This service is not only for PWDs, senior citizens and women also find it more convenient and safe.

Procuring disabled-friendly automobile parts: Some of the disabled friendly changes made to the cars are expensive, and they have some products in India, but it’s not an end to end solution. They’ve had to procure this from other countries. Right now, the operations and hence team at KickStart is small – but they have 3 dedicated drivers for their cabs.

The Impact: Ushering in the wheels of change

KickStart Cabs ferries a person now every single day. They get regular calls from PWDs or senior citizens who use their services to commute comfortably and stay independent. There are certain companies that provide opportunities for PWDs, but now through this service, they can extend the common working from home option to also going to office. KickStart is yet learning how a business works, and optimising on fuel and trip planning.

“Overall, it is a combination of both the product and the service. Over the next five years, we expect to reach out to about five thousand people with disabilities and senior citizens, which is about four per cent of the targeted population,” says Vidya.

2 cents of advice

“Do not try and do everything yourself. Finding a full-time partner may not be easy for a startup, but it really helps” – Vidhya
Vidhya thinks it would be great if we had more service dogs in India to assist PWDs, so her other dream would be to move to this space too.

You can book a Kickstart Cab online at www.kickstartcabs.com or call them at:  +91 810 560 0445

Social Enterprise Showcase is a series of profiles on mission-driven profit-cum-impact enterprises that are working on social, environmental and cultural development challenges across India.


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