Brothers Create ‘Digital Address’ for Millions in Rural India to Access Last-Mile Delivery
Brothers Rajat and Mohit Jain are the creators of Pataa, an online application that aims to address unstructured addressing systems in India to solve last-mile delivery issues.
Unlike millions of Indians, Rahul Solanki does not need to explain his address to delivery executives multiple times whenever he receives parcels. For the past three months, the rural resident has been using the Pataa mobile application, which enables users to share digital addresses in a single click and saves them from everyday hassle.
“Earlier, when we used to order khaad (fertiliser) and beej (seed), we had to explain our address to the delivery executive multiple times a day. Since my Pataa (digital address) has been created, we have been saved from the trouble. Now, I share my Pataa ID with them and they reach our location without difficulty,” the 23-year-old, who lives roughly 10 km away from Indore in Kanadiya village of Madhya Pradesh, tells The Better India.
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Pataa is a unique app that simplifies complex addresses into custom codes, which are easy to locate. Behind this new language of addresses are brothers Rajat and Mohit Jain. They have created a digital addressing system that helps users, e-commerce, and delivery companies to solve last-mile delivery problems.
Addressing made simple
It was during his travels for work that Rajat first identified the problem of unstructured and unnamed addresses in India.
“Normally when you place an order on an e-commerce website, you enter your complete address and it gets extremely irritating for a customer, to explain the address to the delivery executive on a daily basis again and again. It is even difficult to locate and share addresses when it comes to rural and remote locations where people do not have a proper address to write and have to explain it through landmarks like trees or a temple,” adds the 39-year-old entrepreneur.
This comes with an economic burden too.
According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 80 percent of the addresses in India are written with respect to a landmark that typically lies anywhere between 50 and 1,500 metres of the actual address. This makes geolocating very challenging. It is estimated that unstructured and poorly constructed addressing systems cost India $10–14 billion annually.
“While finding addresses, people waste a lot of fuel, many avoid online orders – this is a big loss to the country. We knew this problem, coming from a Tier II city. We wanted to find a solution to this day-to-day issue,” says Indore-based Rajat, who did his executive education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Although tech-driven navigation tools might have come a long way over the years, their effectiveness, as per Rajat, is still limited by unstructured addresses.
“In India, people use a pin code-based system. On average, a pin code covers 179 square km of an area. It is difficult to get into the exact location with a pin code. Nobody has a feature to geotag location on an e-commerce website. This app is the first-of-its-kind across the world. There are a couple of companies who are trying to solve this problem, but they do not have a personalised unique code system,” says Rajat.
After working for a year with a team of software engineers and intellectuals, the brother duo launched the mobile app in 2021.
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So far, the application has over 8 million downloads and is available in 9 languages including Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Gujarati, and Bengali. More than 20 e-commerce companies including ZedBlack, Indian Threads, Simplyy Organics, Bombay Island, and Swiss Bosch are using digital addresses.
How does the app work?
Like a unique email address, users can create a unique and personalised digital code on Pataa. For instance, ^Pooja515 and ^Kumar100. The mobile application works on location intelligence. It allows users to select a 3 x 3 metre block on the digital map to mark the exact doorstep. Apart from this, users can add photos of their property, and record audio in their voice or use text-to-speech for route guidance.
With the help of the application, users can add unique address codes on e-commerce websites instead of writing multiple address lines, city, state, and pin code. “You just write your Pataa code like ‘xyz 12’ and it will automatically fill the form. The code is automatically filled in your parcels, and the delivery executives can navigate with the integrated system,” says Rajat.
“It also ensures privacy as no one can access your location without your permission. Normally address details are written on parcels, which anyone without our knowledge can read. While on our mobile app, people get a choice to share it with only their knowns and delivery executives. They are also notified who is approaching their location using the digital code,” he adds.
“We have been able to work on a system where if someone asks you the address, you just share your digital address with them. We have established 3.5 million digital addresses so far. Out of which we have a million digital addresses from rural areas,” informs Rajat.
For him, the work is extremely fulfilling. “India is losing at least $10 billion every year just because of the poor addressing system. If I am able to contribute towards reducing this burden for my country by creating a product, then this work is extremely satisfying. It will also empower people in rural areas who have been unable to give their addresses for e-commerce. I have been putting my heart and soul into this work,” he says.
Edited by Divya Sethu
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