The verb ‘Tootle’ refers to going on a leisurely ride. The app ‘Tootle’ allows you to take this leisurely ride on the back of a motorbike through the streets of Kathmandu to get to any location you desire. A simple ride sharing app where you set a pickup location. It’s accepted by a nearby rider who will arrive at the location in around 10 minutes. They take you to your drop-off destination. You pay a minimum price and usually get to enjoy a nice conversation with the rider along the way. With bikes being their primary transport medium, Tootle gets to inherit the quick, flexible, and abundant nature of this medium, and it’s actually a really effective way of getting around the city.
Though ride sharing technology has become popular in the West, with apps like Uber and Lyft, it is still in its infancy here in Kathmandu. Tootle, being one of the few companies dipping their feet into these waters, is slowly changing the culture to welcome ride sharing and overcoming the pre-dispositions people have of being uncomfortable with hopping onto a stranger’s vehicle and conversely, allowing strangers to hop onto your vehicle. However, now that Tootle is averaging around 2000 trips a day, they seem to have been fairly successful in bringing about this change and are determined to continue their growth.
So, not only can Tootle get you to your destination, it can also help you make some good income. If you have a motorbike or a scooter and sometimes find yourself short for cash, it’s not a bad idea to sign up as a Tootle partner, drop a few users off on your way to work or college, and get some extra money to spend during the day.
Last Monday morning, I got the opportunity to sit down with the CEO of Tootle, Sixit Bhatta, in their contemporary open-floor office in Pulchowk. Here, we discussed what Tootle is and what it meant to him. “Tootle is a platform that enables people with freedom of mobility,” he explained. “Kathmandu is a city where a transport infrastructure doesn’t really exist, public buses are often overcrowded, and taxis often overpriced. These challenges have restricted this freedom from the people of the city for a long period of time, Tootle is here in an attempt to return this freedom, creating a transport medium inspired by both pioneers in this industry, such as Uber and the local situation here in Kathmandu, where you can see people struggle to get from point A to point B, while simultaneously also seeing an abundance of motorbikes going through the city with vacant backseats. This paints a picture where both the problem and a potential solution coexist in the same frame. The only element missing was matching the spare capacity with the ones who need it. So, Tootle stepped up to the plate.”
So, now that Tootle’s pushing forward at full throttle, what’s next for the organization?
According to Bhatta, a short-medium term goal is expanding the service out of the valley to other parts of Nepal; to locations like Pokhara and Birgunj, and maybe even out of the country. However, as a long-term goal, Tootle is aware that, at heart, it is a technology company, and the only constant with technology companies is—change. So, with this understanding, Tootle is cognizant to the reality that their current service may not be relevant in the future. However, as the technology evolves, so will they. Always pushing forward to the future of mobility, whether it involves artificial intelligence or sustainability, zero-emission transport, or driverless vehicles, Tootle plans on being there.