Uber, the ride sharing app that lets you book a cab with just the tap of a button, had a very humble beginning. Founded by a college dropout, Travis Kalanick, who dreamed of making it big in the world, the app now has a presence in 195 countries! While there are a lot of things one knows about this startup, there is still a lot to discover. Check out these lesser known facts about Uber here!
1. An iPhone for every driver
In an attempt to unify the drivers with one type of device, the company equipped all its drivers with an iPhone. Through this phone, the drivers can track and contact users who have booked a ride. However, the phone is locked for personal use and is made available only for people employed by Uber!
2. Uber had a different name when it started
Did you know when Travis first brought Uber to the public, it had a different name? Uber was initially called Ubercab. However, the company was issued with a cease and desist order as Travis was operating the company that offered a cab service, without having the required license to do so. Incidentally, this name change proved to be a blessing in disguise, propelling Uber into a massive superpower!
3. Uber used its equity for its URL
Uber’s unique trademark URL, Uber.com, wasn’t achieved the normal way. Travis and his team had to trade Uber’s equity to get control of this website and boy, did it work in their favour! This move came to be after the cease and desist order against Ubercab. However, over the course of time, Travis eventually bought back the 2 % stake for a whopping $ 1 million!
4. Uber cabs can’t be more than 10 years old
Every cab used by Uber drivers has to be no less than 10 years old. Every car gets upgraded the moment it reaches that ten year mark, making sure all the cabs are in perfect condition when on the road. Furthermore, all the cars used by Uber are required to have four doors and no less!
5. Uber has four types of drivers
Uber hires and classifies its drivers according to their experience. Currently, there are four types of drivers on Uber’s roster: Pros, Enthusiasts, Crossovers and Part Time. In some cases, when inspections of other cabs are carried, the drivers on the top of the chain are the ones who carry out these surveys and checks.
6. Tips are not a part of the bill
Riders are not allowed to tip the drivers. In fact, as of 2016, drivers were not allowed to say the word “tip” while talking to a customer! According to the hiring policy, Uber drivers keep 80 % of the money they make while only 20 % goes back to the company. This ensures equal pay between both the drivers and the parent company, leaving no room for the requirement of tips.
7. Uber drivers are forced to take selfies
While facial recognition software is often used to confirm a driver’s identity, some Uber drivers are forced to take selfies. Using a tool called Real Time ID check, the cab service Company forces some of its drivers to take a selfie as proof of their identity. Did you know certain drivers are rejected because of how they look in their pictures alone? Talk about bad lighting!
If you think we missed out on any other facts about Uber, comment and let us know!
How An Automobile Engineer Is Helping To Fight Against COVID-19
The world is currently going through an unprecedented crisis in the modern times. A highly infectious virus named COVID-19 has been spreading throughout the world with almost every country in the world reporting positive cases. The virus attacks the respiratory system and the infected person exhibits flu-like symptoms and can be fatal to old people or people with weak immune systems. The virus spread so quickly that healthcare professionals are unable to keep up with the influx of cases and hospitals are filled to the brim with no room to accommodate more cases in some countries. In the midst of this, there is an acute shortage of medical masks which come under personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses. A normal surgical mask does not help with keeping the virus at bay and healthcare professionals require an N95 mask. An N95 mask or N95 respirator is a particulate-filtering facepiece respirator that meets the N95 standard of the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health air filtration rating, meaning that it filters at least 95% of airborne particles.
The COVID-19 virus made its way to India and the central government sprung to action and imposed a nationwide lockdown for three weeks which began on March 24th,2020. India also has a severe shortage of PPEs with many doctors and hospitals complaining about a lack of the masks. The shortage is partly due to the panic buying indulged by the public and also due to unavailability of masks.
Times like these always give way to extraordinary individuals who rise up to the occasion. Abrar is one such individual who rose to the occasion. It all began when Abrar noticed the strain on the medical fraternity and the healthcare infrastructure due to lack of resources and PPEs. This prompted Abrar into action and got him thinking about how to create a face shield at home with simple raw materials easily available. After some initial brainstorming and research on the internet, it took Abrar 24 hours to come up with a working design for a face shield.
Abrar then put the prototype design on his Instagram handle and asked for feedback and support from his friends. What began as a simple post ended up becoming something bigger as it garnered more and more attention, friends and strangers ended up contributing money to help Abrar produce more such face shields. It took just one Instagram post for Abrar to collect two lakh rupees within 24 hours. Abrar has raised 3 lakh rupees so far which is roughly enough to produce 30,000 masks.
Abrar and a group of friends then came together to fine tune the design and with constant feedback from doctors, they were finally able to come up with a product that can be used by medical professionals. However, increasing production comes with its own set of problems as it severely restricts logistics and manpower mobility due to the lockdown set in place. Abrar is however hopeful that he could obtain official passes which would let manpower to venture outside.
Abrar believes that public health care units are the highest priority when it comes to delivering his face shields. The product received positive feedback and a lot of corporate companies working on essential services have contacted Abrar to buy the product for their on ground and field employees. Abrar sells the product to corporates at double the cost of raw materials and the profit will be used to make more products to be given away for free to public healthcare units. Abrar wants to connect with representatives from each state to teach them how to make the face shield themselves and cater to their local markets and Bombay is already on board. All communications happen via WhatsApp.
The team is currently working on two more designs which are costlier and involve higher quality raw materials. Abrar is an automobile engineer based out of Bengaluru and works for Ather Energy and has a passion for racing bikes. Abrar believes that more people need to be aware of how to make PPEs at home in order to help people who need it the most.
If you would like to be a part of this movement, you could contribute or get in touch with Abrar on his Instagram handle. There is also a handy guide to make a face shield by yourself on a link on his profile.
All You Need To Know About Patents In India
India is home to the third largest startup ecosystem in the world trailing behind America and China which rank first and second, respectively. The startup ecosystem is a rapidly evolving mechanism with more and more new ideas coming to life year after year. Imagine having a unique idea which solves a problem and can be converted into a business model. If the individual who comes up with the idea fears the idea might be stolen by another person to be replicated into a business model, the individual could apply for a patent to safeguard the idea. A patent is a form of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, selling and importing an invention for a limited period of years, in exchange for publishing and enabling public disclosure of the invention.
The Indian Patents Act was established in 1970 and came into effect from 1972. The Patent Act establishes what kind of inventions can be patentable and non patentable.
For an invention to be established as a patented invention, it needs to satisfy the criteria listed below
- The invention should be a one of its kind. This means the invention shall be completely new and there should be nothing similar of its kind.
- The invention should be unique in itself which means if the invention is making an existing technology or design better, it cannot be classified as a patentable invention.
- It should be useful by developing and improving the life of the common man without the use and support of illegal things.
An additional thing to remember would be discovery of laws of nature could not be quantified as patentable inventions. Examples of this would be Newton’s discovery of Gravity or Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
Non Patentable Inventions:
According to the Indian Patents Act 1970, Section 3 and 5, there are certain types of inventions that cannot be patented as inventions and are listed below
- A frivolous invention or any claim which contradicts known laws of nature.
- Anything which is used for commercial purposes but contradicts public order and morality or which is prejudiced and causes harm to humans, animals and plant life.
- Discovery of a new or unknown form of substance which does not enhance the known efficacy of the substance.
- A method of agriculture or horticulture.
- Any process or discovery relating to medicine, surgery, curative, prophylactic diagnostic, therapeutic or other treatment of human beings or similar treatment in animals.
- Discoveries pertaining to atomic energy.
Patent Application Process In India
In order to apply and obtain a patent in India,there are certain steps to be followed. The steps for the patent application process are given below.
- Collect and Journal all the important and relevant information pertaining to the invention with as much detail as possible. Information related to how and why the patent works, the advantages and description of the invention should be present.
- Include drawings or designs related to the invention which explain the working of the idea/invention.
- Check if the idea qualifies as an invention for the patent application.
- Check if the invention meets all criteria and requirements according to Indian Patent Act 1970.
- Draft a patent application. A provisional application can be filed if the invention is in the early stages of research and development. Filing for a provisional application grants a person twelve months to come up with complete specifications.
- Upon filing the complete specification along with the application for patent, the application is published after 18 months of first filing.
- The application is examined only after the submission of a request for examination (RFE.) Upon receiving this request the controller gives the patent application to a patent examiner who examines the patent application for various criteria and submits a first examination report which is shared with the patent applier.
- Majority of patent applications would be subject to objections and the patent applicant should ensure all objections are resolved.
- After resolving all the objections the application would be placed in order for grant once it is found to be meeting all patentability requirements.
Owning a patent will help in prevention of theft of intellectual property, gives the right to exclusivity, right to commercialize the idea and increase the marketability and monetary value.
Although the patent application process in India is a very long process and is susceptible to slow bureaucracy, it is important to remember that in the end, owning a patent will be a worthwhile investment. There is also the possibility of the application process being made digital as well due to the technological advancements in digital security.
Coronavirus Pandemic Testing Startups By Disrupting Supply-Demand
When the news about Coronavirus slowly broke on to the world, countries were totally unaware about what was about to happen. The virus which originated in the Wuhan province of China, spread so rapidly that China had to lockdown the entire province in order to combat the virus. However,the virus,which was later classified as a pandemic, quickly spread across the world at an exponential rate bringing countries to a standstill. Many countries had to declare national emergencies in order to cope up with the rising number of positive cases and in some places, high fatality rates. The impact of the virus was not restricted to just the quality of life, rather the economies all over the world were affected. Stock exchanges plummeted so low that it is being compared to the great American economic depression.
Needless to say, once the economy was impacted by the virus, investors started pulling out of the stock markets and startups along with small businesses were the worst hit. India is home to the third largest number of startups in the world ranking behind America and China. When the stock market was taking a tumble and news of the lockdown reached the public, startups in aviation, hospitality, events and transportation took a big hit. The lockdown completely disrupted the supply and demand with people staying at home on government orders. Companies like Uber, Ola, Rapido and Bounce in transportation, airlines along with hospitality startups like Oyo and Treebo, did not see any business during the last month. Sales teams which rely on travelling on ground are now grounded and many startups are being forced to let go of employees or withhold salaries.
However, this time of crisis has been a boon to startups in the healthcare, food, logistics and digital marketing/news sectors that are seeing heavy growth. Startups like Swiggy, Zomato, BigBasket, 1mg, Practo and Dunzo are able to operate even during the lockdown as the government orders allow them to do so.
Most often startups work on a lean organizational structure which means, employees have to often take up cross functional roles. At stressful times like these, work productivity will take a hit. Logistics supply chains across the world are unable to keep up with the demands of the population. This is leading to large delays in deliverables and with vendors unable to operate there is an obvious reduction in revenues.Venture capital firm Sequoia warned of an impending recession following on the backdrop of the pandemic and has asked startups in its portfolio to dig in. Because they see this impending recession may only be contained after several quarters and it may take even longer for economies to recover and become stable. Sequoia even urged companies to rethink their business models and consider cutting jobs.
However the startup ecosystem is coming together to help their stakeholders in this time of need. Zomato raised more than 10 crore rupees in a crowd sourcing funding round to support its driver partners. Ola group and its employees will contribute 20 crore rupees to support its driver partners. This entire phase would be a litmus test for startups to see how they can adapt and boost their immunity to the economic aftereffects of the Coronavirus. Many startups will struggle but if they make it to the end of the tunnel, there is no doubt there would be a wealth of learning and opportunities gained.
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