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Mukesh Jha and Janardan Prasad

For giving India a lift.

Mukesh Jha and Janardan Prasad
Catching a Ride: Autowale is the world’s first three-wheel-ride aggregator that runs on basic technology.

Unlike Uber and its rivals in India, Autowale is not another cab-aggregating app. Instead, Jha and Prasad have built the world’s first three-wheel-ride aggregator, relying not only on GPS technology or smartphones but basic technology that can run on cheap phones. Autowale has helped more than 1,000 auto-rickshaw drivers provide half-a-million lifts to middle-class commuters, including daily rides to working women and disabled commuters, who prefer the service to cabs, Prasad says, because of its low fares and “convenience and comfort.” Currently operating in the western city of Pune, Autowale is set to scale to 20 cities by the end of 2015. Because the app can crowdsource data from drivers, analyze it on the fly, and thereby provide a predictable flow of rides, low-income auto-rickshaw drivers have doubled their monthly income. “Because of Autowale, they have bank accounts, better access to finance, and are able to send their kids to school,” says Prasad.

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Bonus Round: Mukesh Jha

Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?

Finding a place far away from high rises, where one can see the blue sky and hear the birds chirp; listening to and observing passionate people. Subscribing to YouTube channels that showcase creative artists.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Listen to Indian classical music; go for a walk/run/bike ride; meditate; go over my to-do list and start planning; enjoy hot masala chai in the quiet balcony of my apartment overlooking a lush green park; speak briefly with my parents.

What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?

How little safety I have behind me while I stay highly motivated and focused around solving this problem.

What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?

Make a mug of hot ginger masala tea and take out my guitar and start playing my favorite numbers; put on my walking gear and go on a long walk, silent, and introspective walk (the mobile doesn’t come along); trek to the temple atop a hill near my office and get a high level view of the city.

Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?

I derive great inspiration from Gandhi. He was a visionary, a leader, and a great executer. To think that he achieved all that in those times with hardly any resources is so amazing.


Bonus Round: Janardan Prasad

Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?

During commuting: Problems and situations during my daily commute help me think constructively. Dreaming: I sleep with a problem statement in mind and mostly wake up with a solution. It has worked well for me over last 20 years.

What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?

That I spend most of my time thinking about the future.

What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?

I follow Barack Obama, Narendra Modi, and Arvind Kejriwal in politics, thoughts of Richard Branson, and Roger Federer in sports.

Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?

NGOs and social workers inspire me the most because of their selfless efforts and passion to impact lives of others.

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