Founder Spotlight: Reyasat Chowdhury

Founder Spotlight: Reyasat Chowdhury

From Childhood Dreams to Entrepreneurial Reality

Driven by a childhood dream of entrepreneurship, Reyasat was motivated by his father's unfulfilled aspirations of starting his own business. Having explored various business ideas since their youth, Reyasat lacked the necessary knowledge and guidance to take the first step. However, an opportunity presented itself when he learned about an investment program for innovative business ideas at his workplace, thus propelling him to take a leap of faith. 

The Inspiration Behind Shuttle

Initially, Shuttle planned to work with bus companies to automate processes and introduce apps, but after realizing the lack of interest from bus owners, they pivoted to providing services for daily commuters. Recognizing the gap left by ride-sharing services like Uber and Pathao, which primarily catered to a specific segment of the population, Shuttle aimed to provide a solution for those reliant on public transportation.  During this time, Reyasat was working at Robi as a product specialist. During weekends, he would go to his alma mater, North South University, and engage in conversations with potential users. In three weeks, Reyasat spoke to more than 700 people which allowed him to discover a pressing need for safe and reliable transportation options for women.

How 700 Conversations Shaped Shuttle's Direction

To build trust among women, especially given that the founders were male, Shuttle took several steps. They engaged in lengthy conversations with customers, including parents, before onboarding them. The founders even rode with customers to experience the service firsthand. A Facebook group was created where customers shared their feedback, and the founders actively participated in the discussions. This helped create a sense of community and instil confidence in the service.

Transforming Operations

Initially operating manually with Google Forms, Shuttle gradually transitioned to a dedicated app. This shift significantly reduced manual work, streamlined operations, and facilitated efficient management. By interacting directly with customers and incorporating their feedback, Shuttle developed an app tailored to their unique requirements, resembling a flight booking app. The founders actively participated in a Facebook group, personally addressing complaints and fostering a strong community connection.

Reyasat with Shuttle Co-founder Jawwad and Sufian / Image Credit: Shuttle

The Price, Safety, And Comfort Equation

Shuttle differentiates itself from other transportation providers through its affordable pricing and focus on safety and comfort. It positions itself between public transportation, which is often considered unsafe, and expensive ride-sharing services like Uber. With a pricing model approximately one-third that of ride-sharing services, Shuttle appeals to cost-conscious commuters. Furthermore, the company prioritizes safety, comfort, and convenience, providing an alternative that stands out in comparison to traditional public transportation.

Scaling Operations In A Complex Market

Scaling operations in the transportation industry in Bangladesh posed multiple challenges for Shuttle. The company had to gain customer trust while proving the viability and financial sustainability of its business model. By offering competitive prices and positioning itself between public transportation and ride-sharing services, Shuttle aims to maintain affordability for its customers, regardless of fluctuations in fuel prices. With the demand for transportation services being a constant, Shuttle focuses on ensuring efficient route optimization and customer satisfaction. The company optimizes its routes and operations based on extensive sign-up data, launching new routes when a certain utilization threshold is reached. 

Expanding Horizons

Having successfully catered to female commuters, Shuttle recently expanded its consumer segment to schoolgoers. Partnering with Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Shuttle aims to address the transportation needs of school students and tackle the challenges prevalent in this segment.

Milestones And Accolades

Since its establishment, Shuttle has achieved notable milestones and recognition. The company raised USD 2.5 Mn in capital and served more than 60 B2B clients and over 30,000 individual customers. In terms of recognition, the company has received awards such as the WSA Young Innovators Award and the BASIS National ICT Award. Furthermore, the founder and his partner were recently listed in Forbes 30 Under 30. 

Transforming Lives, One Commute At A Time

Reyasat aspires not to merely create a product, rather establish an entirely new category that disrupts the existing incumbents in the transportation industry. The company aims to expand its reach to other developing countries where public transportation systems may not be efficient or accessible to the masses. 
In the coming years, Shuttle envisions itself as a pioneer and leader in this innovative category, offering reliable and convenient transportation solutions to millions of individuals worldwide. By continually improving and adapting to the evolving needs of their customers, Shuttle aims to become a trusted and go-to platform for daily commuting, setting a new standard for convenience, affordability, and efficiency.

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