Aggarwal: “Why didn’t you go to Ola for funding or look for another acquisition? You could have told them, acquire us. It will take you six-seven months. You’ll be there on day one.”
What is Carpooling?
The man from Hyderabad: “We tried to go to Ola. But we didn’t get any response from them?”
Roadies 1: “You did that again? Door Taxi?”
The man from Hyderabad: “Not really. This was one city to another. Via car booking.”
Roadies 1: “Carpooling?”
The man from Hyderabad: “Not carpooling. We hired a chauffeur who would take you between cities. And you could book four tickets in one car.”
Singh: “I find it odd that you took a plunge into the same muddy waters again. Where a big player the minute you say this, you think UberPool. So, why did Door Taxi fail?”
The man from Hyderabad: “Because we couldn’t get funding.”
Singh: “What did the investors tell you?”
The man from Hyderabad: “They said they didn’t see a sizable market in it yet.”
Singh: “Because the market is already gone”.
The man from Hyderabad: “Your point is valid. We want to come into a different space. Now, let’s take Uber and Ola. These guys are the sharks. They have captured the local market. But we are talking about inter-city travel.”
Singh shook her head disapprovingly.
You’ve got to be kidding me. Didn’t you notice? Singh switched inter-city with intracity.
Significant development achieved
Understandable the first time. But it is significant.
She, seemingly, has not understood how her favorite UberPool works. It ferries her in the city, not outside. Organized, safe, inter-city carpooling doesn’t exist. There are myriad reasons for that but this, specifically, is not her grouse. Because until the very end of this exchange, she did not see a difference.
Of course, then there’s Aggarwal. He is a fascinating study.
“If you had inch-wide, mile-deep understanding, you wouldn’t be here,” says Aggarwal to another contestant on the show. One wonders if he was talking about himself.
In a post introducing MTV Dropouts, YourStory, the “marketing partner” at the show, introduces one particular judge/mentor as someone who earned his chair at the head of a unicorn: this description is a fitting one, but not for the reason the writer wrote it to shill the show.
Quick startup catches up. In startup folklore, a unicorn is a name given to a startup crossing a billion dollars in valuation and is usually depicted as a beautiful horse with an elegant horn on its head. However, this is largely a modern interpretation. In mythology, the earliest references to unicorns, coincidentally enough right here in India, saw these creatures as “wild asses” having a horn. Later on, the likes of Marco Polo described them thus, “They have a head like a wild boar’s. They spend their time by preference wallowing in mud and slime. They are very ugly brutes to look at.”
Polo might have erroneously been describing a rhinoceros as a unicorn but maybe I’m digressing. Sandeep Aggarwal.
He is the most interesting star in the show. In his own mind, he sees himself as “an internet visionary, serial entrepreneur, angel investor and philanthropist.” Except for the rest of the world, he is a convicted felon.
The unicorn startup that the show refers to is an online marketplace called ShopClues. Aggarwal co-founded ShopClues in 2011 but his stint there lasted only until 2013. At the time when Aggarwal parted ways with ShopClues, it was far from a unicorn—the company had raised less than $20 million in funding and had barely found its feet in the Indian e-commerce sweepstakes.
So crediting Aggarwal as the head of a unicorn is only marginally better than crediting Ron Wayne as the creator of Apple—just founding a company does not endow you with bragging rights for what that the company achieved long after you exited.