Local rideshare company aims to get fair dinkum with drivers

We detail the brand and marketing strategy behind Australia's latest rideshare provider

When someone books a rideshare car there’s a good chance they are thinking more about when it will arrive and how long their trip will take than about the company itself and how it treats its drivers.

But Rajesh Vuppala believes that if riders knew more about how the industry worked, they might choose a service they thought treated its drivers more fairly, especially if it gave back something to the local community.

Hence, despite the Australian rideshare market being dominated by multibillion dollar foreign competitors, he has gone ahead and set up a provider of his own, called DinkumRide.

“There is currently no major ridesharing business in Australia owned by Australians,” Vuppala tells CMO. “We have players from the US, China and India, but DinkumRide is the only wholly Australian-owned rideshare company. We were also inspired by the idea of creating a rideshare company that puts people before profit, gives its drivers a fair go, and puts safety first.”

Competitors might argue they do these things also, but one area where DinkumRide clearly stands apart is in the Australian-ness of its brand, which features a visual identity heavy on the national colours of green and gold and kangaroos images, in addition to its slang name.

“Dinkum means ‘genuine, honest, true’, and our brand reflects these values,” Vuppala says. “We communicate our values loud and clear in both our internal and external communications.”

Vuppala says these values are deeply engrained, with the choice of name designed to reflect the Australian value of having a fair go.

“We knew that we wanted to build a brand that was very much focussed on Australian values, and one that was very clearly a part of the Australian community - unlike the existing international rideshare brands currently operating in the country,” he says.

Since launching, DinkumRide has been focusing on its mission of putting people first, with 10 per cent of its profit pledged to charities serving homelessness across Australia.

One of the keys to DinkumRide’s long-term success or failure will be its ability to sign up drivers. For this reason, Vuppala has settled on offering them a flat-rate commission of 15 per cent. He says this has been sufficient to attract 10 per cent of the estimated 14,000 – 15,000 drivers in DinkumRide’s launch market of Perth in just two months.

“We are completely transparent about driver rates and fees and believe in treating our drivers as part of the family,” Vuppala says.

The company is now eyeing expansion in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and Vuppala says DinkumRide already has a waitlist of hundreds of would-be drivers in Sydney, even before announcing a launch date. The company is also working to raise awareness among riders in Perth and is planning above-the-line advertising using television and radio.

“We’ve got catchy jingles - the lot,” Vuppala says. “We also do a lot of our marketing through word of mouth, both in person and via social media groups. We conduct a lot of local print advertising in the areas where we’re already live - everything from stickers to pamphlets, print marketing and discount vouchers. We also partner with our charities to utilise their existing comms channels to spread the word.”

The company is also planning to raise capital to boost its development as a national brand. Vuppala is confident that despite stiff competition from well-funded international players he can capture around 10 per cent of the existing $1.1 billion Australian rideshare market.

“This isn’t my first start-up, and so I knew what I was getting into and how much work would be involved,” Vuppala says. “But my research reassured me that it would be worthwhile, and also my network of contacts is well set up to bring us skills, talent, drivers, and customers.”

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