By Ashish K. Mishra, Livemint
Over the previous 18 hours, Raghu, as he is popularly known, had practiced the speech, playing the sentences over and over again in his head. He would start by saying that in the three-and-a-half year journey of TaxiForSure (TFS), he had never thought that a day like this would ever come. That he had never planned for this. That it was the worst moment of his entire TFS journey.
Now that the moment had arrived, at around 2.30pm on a warm March afternoon, at TFS’s office in Bengaluru’s Koramangala, on the terrace, in front of almost 200 nervous employees, Raghu was overcome by emotion.
He gave himself a few seconds to recover. And then a few more.
The previous 18 hours had been tough. He had barely slept, knowing what was around the corner. Monday had started way earlier than usual. He woke up at 5am but there wasn’t much to do, so he idled around and, then, when his two-and-a-half-year-old son woke up, he made him breakfast. At about 7.30am, Raghu and his wife, Shilpa, left home. Their destination was TFS’s first office—the company had started here in 2011 with just two people—Raghu, 33, and Aprameya Radhakrishna, 34. It was a 100 sq. ft terrace office; No. 855, 4th Floor, 7th Main, JP Nagar, Bengaluru-78.
At around 8.15am, when Raghu and Shilpa reached the office, TFS’s finance controller Deena Jacob was already there, waiting for them with a clutch of documents. It was Raghu’s idea to meet there—to see the end of TFS’s journey from where it had all begun.
Before he got down to it, though, Raghu had to honour a simple request from Shilpa—he could sign the documents only after 9am, at an auspicious time. The group whiled away the time, fondly recollecting old memories, making plans to buy the 100 sq. ft room as a keepsake. Once the clock struck 9, Raghu got down to it. One after the other, he signed 16 copies of shareholder agreements, all stating that he was okay getting in Ola Cabs as a 100% investor in the company.
The 16 slight scribbles brought closure to months of helplessness and frustration. And just like that, TFS was sold to Ola Cabs.
This is the story of two entrepreneurs who set out to build a big business (after a drunken night at the Tavern pub), couldn’t, and so cashed out and moved on.
It is the story of TFS’s oversized ambition, a black swan event, a government’s knee-jerk reaction, cash burn, over-reliance on venture capital funds and life in the times of Breaking News media coverage.
This is the story of how, in just two months, TFS went from a prospective good second bet in the taxi aggregator business in India, almost on the verge of raising $200 million, to a company that no venture capitalist would touch.
It all started when Ola Cabs (the company’s name is ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) turned up the heat—on 22 August 2014.
Read the entire piece at LiveMint.
Copyright (C) 2015, LiveMint. Excerpted with permission.