Mumbai, Maharashtra -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/05/2015 -- According to the Worldbank, the latest estimate of women to men in the workforce was estimated at 34% for 2013 in India (as compared to 91% in Iceland and 20% in Afghanistan, with the rest of the world falling between these two extremes). Within this number, certain industries lend themselves to a more equitable gender distribution (nursing, teaching etc) rather than others (military, construction etc). The chauffeur-driven car rental industry is relatively new and unstructured in India and is a male-dominated industry due to the preponderance of male chauffeurs and the people who deal with them.
Into this male dominated world, Antaeus Rent A Car was born in 1996 – founded by a woman entrepreneur. Today, Antaeus employs more than 40% female staff in Accounts, Administration and Sales. The company's founder, Mrs Uma Bahl, had a long corporate career in India and the Middle East, in Administration, Airlines, Human Resources and Travel & Tourism. The decision to found Antaeus was taken after identifying a niche in the ground transportation market.
Below are excerpts from an interview with Mrs Bahl.
Q. Could you tell us why you started Antaeus?
A. I had returned to India in 1993 after a long stint in the Middle East and was looking for opportunities in the Travel and Tourism sector. I worked with Modiluft, SITA Travels and finally Kuoni India before deciding to branch out for myself in 1996. I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and based on my research, there seemed to be a lack in the ground transportation market at that time; hence Antaeus was born. We originally started working out of a small office in Saki Naka, Mumbai, with 2 employees and 2 cars.
Q. Were you ever daunted by the fact that this was a male-dominated industry?
A. Honestly, it wasn't even something I considered. It was just a business that I wanted to get into and did. Only much later did people start commenting on how few women there were in this field. All I can say about that is that there are very few recognised women entrepreneurs in India in general and we need more.
Q. What were some of the challenges you faced as a start-up?
A. That is another new term – "start-up"! When we started the business, our main challenges were to find and train quality drivers, acquire cars and find business, which were pretty much normal challenges. Then another thing that was a challenge then but not now was communications. There were no mobile phones at that time so drivers had to check in from time to time to let us know where they were!
Q. What were some of the innovations Antaeus launched?
A. To address the communications challenge, we pioneered pagers for drivers – this was a new concept that quickly caught on with other companies in the sector until it became an industry standard. At that time also, there were no Pan-India service providers and Antaeus was one of the first to offer services outside of our home city, Mumbai. Today, we offer services in over 90 cities across India.
Q. What would you consider as your biggest strength?
A. Our biggest strength is definitely the team. We have many employees who have been with us over 14 years and there is tremendous loyalty both ways. Not counting drivers, we have almost 50% of our employees being female. We are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of gender, religion or other factors.
Q. What do you consider will be the future milestones for the company in the next 5 years?
A. That's a great question. Firstly, we are working on strengthening our web positioning. Our website was only launched last year and since then has been showing excellent growth in terms of visitor numbers so we expect web bookings to grow to 50% of our business in the next 5 years. Secondly, we want to maximise opportunities in our existing business by attracting new clients, opening new offices (in Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad) and investing in Sales and Marketing operations in all these cities. Thirdly, in revenue terms, we intend to triple our revenue in the next 5 years. Finally, in people terms, we want to grow our non-driver employee strength to have at least 60% female employees.
About Antaeus Rent A Car Pvt Ltd
Antaeus Rent A Car Pvt Ltd has been in operation since 1996 and is a pan India provider of quality chauffeur driven car rental services to corporate customers for short term and long term requirements. Since its inception, the company has dealt with blue-chip Indian and foreign customers with its presence in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru as well as through a network of affiliates across the country. Services include chauffeur-driven luxury cars on rent for Local Intra-city usage, Airport Transfers and Out-station or Inter-City trips between two or more cities. The company also provides coach rentals for weddings and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events). Antaeus serves over 300 corporate entities in India and abroad for their car rental services in India. Their Vision is to be recognised as a customer-centric, employee-oriented and profitable company in the chauffeur-driven, car-rental business for corporate customers in India.