A startup is a place where the founders aim to solve the problems of the people in the society. Solving the problem does not come easy to anyone. It is the grit and commitment to the problem that can take a founder forward.
Our guest, Yamuna Sastry, the founder of CabDost spoke to us about the positives of openly ‘asking’. Her story gives you the much-needed motivation to achieve your goals. You will agree with her and utilize the ‘power of asking’ as a tool to move a step ahead in chasing your dreams.
About Yamuna Sastry
Yamuna Sastry is the highly driven founder of CabDost. Started in the year 2015, CabDost is a social fin-tech startup. It mainly focusses on filing tax returns to the cab driver community in India. With Yamuna in the lead, the company has educated and raised the awareness of taxation to the cab drivers.
In about a span of 5 years, CabDost has filed 50000 tax returns with a TDS refund amounting to 10 crores. Apart from tirelessly working for the driver community, Yamuna and her team are continuously striving to grow their venture.
CabDost has been a part of Global Entrepreneurship Summits in the year 2017 and 2019. Yamuna was also a part of US State Department mentorship program. She has been conferred with NITI Aayog’s Women Transforming India award by the Vice-President of India Sri. Venkaiah Naidu.
Before stepping into the journey of entrepreneurship, Yamuna was in the corporate world with KPMG. She was then a professor at Rewa University where she has immensely contributed to forming of their curriculum.
The Power of Asking
Yamuna shared with us some great examples of ‘power of asking’ that led her forward in the journey of CabDost-
Asking the family
In India, moving away from the comfort zone is still not a norm. So, when Yamuna decided to start her own venture, talking to her family was the first step. Her father was not greatly convinced at her decision and took a step away from extending his support.
Yamuna had no other option but to turn to her mother for supporting her. This meant, asking her mother to move out with her. It was indeed her polite request and commitment that her mother agreed to be with her. She also sold cosmetics to sustain the living expenses during the initial days of CabDost
Asking to validate your idea
An idea takes you nowhere. It is only the validation of the idea that can allow you to dream big. For this stage, Yamuna headed out to the Bangalore International Airport to talk to cab drivers. She spoke to them daily to understand their awareness on taxation.
Then, to check her idea she called up her friend RJ Sowjanya. She requested her to talk about a free tax filing campaign of CabDost for the drivers. This was a stepping stone to validate the idea. With just a 45 second announcement on the radio, 180 drivers registered in the campaign. This meant a refund of INR 2 lakhs!
Asking the people in power
When it was time to run the free campaign on the Bangalore International Airport (BIA) campus, Yamuna sought the help of Karnataka politicians. She met with Sri. Ashwathnarayan, today’s Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, the then MLA to help her with recommendation to the BIA.
Yamuna was directed to Sri. Sadananda Gowda, the ex-Chief Minister of Karnataka. Upon Yamuna’s request, she was handed over with a letter of recommendation to the BIA. This letter helped Yamuna and the team of CabDost to set up the free tax filing campaign on the campus.
Asking stalwarts from networking
When CabDost decided to run a free health campaign for the driver community, Yamuna reached out to Mr.Kochattil. Yamuna had met Mr. Suresh Kochattil, the then head of BGS Foundation during GES.
When he was in Bangalore, she took him to her office. CabDost’s office was just 80Sft and had just 4 employees. While explaining to him about CabDost’s functioning, Yamuna requested Mr.Suresh Kochattil whether BGS Foundation could support a free health campaign.
The request bore fruit when an amount of Rs. 10 lakhs was granted for the health campaign by BGS foundation head, Ms. Upasana Kamineni.
Asking the mentors for a way ahead
It was time to develop a tech platform for CabDost, but Yamuna and her team did not have a penny to spend. Yamuna met up with her mentor, Mr. Shiv Kumar to explain the situation. She was immediately referred to Mr. Deepak Rajanna, the then head of the tech team of Flipkart.
Yamuna invited Mr. Deepak Rajanna to the office and explained to him the requirement of a tech platform for their work. Hearing to the requirement, Mr. Rajanna instantly wrote down the architecture for CabDost.
Asking may not lead to a ‘yes’ always
‘Asking’ has no doubt been very favourable for Yamuna. However, it has also given her negative responses. Yamuna was out-rightly told a ‘no’ for organising a free tax filing campaign in one of the international airport cities.
The incidence still makes Yamuna feel sad about the response. Although she is determined to make tax return filing possible for all the cab drivers in that city.
The status of CabDost today
Yamuna sets an example of leveraging the ‘power of asking’ to build a venture. The special tool has given her the acceleration during critical times and while reaching milestones. Today, into the 6th year, CabDost has 22 full time employees
The team is successful in building a tech platform for CabDost. They have developed an app for cab drivers in English and vernacular languages. With about 1.5 lakh registrations already, the cab drivers are availing the services of tax return filing.
CabDost is also the official partners with Ola, Uber and Swiggy to file tax returns for their cab partners. Apart from providing services to cab drivers, CabDost has helped other gig workers like carpenters, street food vendors to file their returns.