Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Design | 2013-2014
Varanasi, India

//Grant from Students 4 Sustainability
//Finalist in Indiais documentary competition, February 2014.
//Graded High Distinction by Faculty.
// Article written at UTS BUiLD Society 

The team created an improved cycle rickshaw and business plan for the local start-up SMV Wheels that would provide the company to both increase revenue and manufactured vehicles per month.

It also included a new handlebar steering system and pedal straps to increase manoeuvrability and driver comfort throughout his longer journeys.

Rickshaw 2.0

Travelling to India to work in the slums of one of the poorest cities in India, team Jumbo Jugaad was asked to create a cycle rickshaw that would improve the livelihood of rickshaw drivers in the local community.

The vehicle itself is made from steel piping that decreased workshop time. It provided the driver with an improved structure that included added seating space, a detachable backrest and luggage space allowing drivers to take a short rest and transport both passengers and goods.

PROCESS Jumbo Jugaad began with a one-month period of on-site research of the local culture, product, users and company. During this time, I focused on the cultural and company aspects of the project, as well as a drizzle of user interaction. This was followed by two months of concept (rickshaw + business) development and prototyping.

During this period, I focused more on the company structure and future strategy with teammate Brian, as well as the user interaction of rickshaw, passenger and driver. The team only had 5 months to complete the project. The delivery time was constricted, however this only gave the team more of a challenge to work with.


Problem Definition Before beginning on user, product and company research, the current situation within India, and more specifically Varanasi was laid out.

Creative session The creative session consisted of three activities; a card game: fleet to purchase, a discussion regarding the current rickshaw, and the rickshaw drivers designing their own rickshaw.


During the session, there were five participants, two of which, were SMV clients. The participants ranged from 25 to 54 years old, and all had different routes around the city. The participants were selected at different points in the city to encourage variety within the session.

Driver Shadowing One full day of research was spent following a typical rickshaw driver from Varanasi from early morning to night, in order to understand his daily routine and attempt to dig deeper into the latent needs of the drivers.

User Task Analysis A 20-minute rickshaw ride was taken with a local inhabitant of Varanasi to document the interaction between user and sub-user. A task analysis was made by noting down the numerous phases, from when the passenger started looking for a rickshaw to when he reached the final destination.

Thanks to a multitude of different research methods and field activities inspired by the Delft Design Guide, the HCD Toolkit and IDEO Method Cards it was possible to dig deeper into understanding the needs of the users and sub-user.  Personas were then created in the form of drivers and passengers to better relate the new cycle rickshaw.

Drivers The most explicit needs of the driver are linked to the functionality of the vehicle, improving the smoothness of the ride, providing better braking, reducing the need for maintenance, making it easier to overtake. The drivers explain the value they seen in ownership, since it allows them to increase their income in the long run.

Passengers Many latent needs were discovered when digging deeper into the context, such as a more honest negotiation of the price, reducing the feeling of exploitation of the driver, creating long term relationships between driver and passenger, enabling the driver to act as a guide for tourists, eliminating the feeling of “feeling assaulted” by the drivers, more collaboration between user and sub-user during the journey (e.g. helping the driver to avoid obstacles), the need for a more organized network of drivers and encouraging a fair pricing system that encourages tips for better service.

To better understand the current business model of SMV Wheels, the team performed shadowing for a week, to take part in payment collections, acquisition of customers, home visits to current customers and community meetings, which are key segments of the company’s value proposition.

From here, the team was able to establish a clear understanding on the company’s customer segments, value proposition, current customer relationships, revenue streams and cost structures.

To understand the rickshaw cycle itself, an analysis of the construction process was performed.

Overall, this helped understand the numerous steps involved in constructing the vehicle and to pinpoint the bottlenecks in the assembly process.

Rickshaw Material Flow and supply chain  To define how the team could change the supply chain, they first defined the production process, and the different stakeholders that are involved within this process.


The new strategy for SMV comprises of three different payment plans depending on the background of the rickshaw driver and accompanying product.

Business model Canvas A new business model was created as a result of the research executed throughout the field research.

Variable Payment Plan A Variable payment plan was created as it was found throughout research that repayment behaviour of rickshaw drivers depended on seasonality, meaning that drivers would be able to pay defer payments during certain times of the year.

Breakeven Analysis The graph shows SMV’s breakeven point assuming that the company would start producing only the new model and and selling only SMV Premium. Thanks to the higher contrbution margin of SMV Premium compared to the existing offers, breakeven point is further lowered to 68 units per month. Considering that assembly time for the new model is shorter, it is possbile to assume that if the company fully dedicates its resources to its production, actual production rate would increase from 1,5 to 2 units per day. The graph shows how such measure would bring the company very close to breaking even.

The communites surrounding the new rickshaw found it innovative and a positive change within their communities. Overall, they defined it as agile, hence the name Furtila Rickshaw.

Initial Components

Final Components

Market creation toolbox, Design for Sustainability, Business Model Canvas, Human Centred Design; In depth Interviewing, creative sessions, user scenarios, focus groups, shadowing, stakeholder analysis, Product Testing.

Jumbo Jugaad lived on top of each other during this project in a small concrete house and spent 24/7 together on the dusty streets of Varanasi. Now some of my best friends, working alongside what began as four strangers; has being one of the biggest learning curves of my life. Over a mere six months, these four strangers have become some of my closest friends and colleagues who I admire and look to for professional advice. Being around those that are focused, helps the team create motivation and a strong vision

Jumbo Jugaad

TEAM JUMBO JUGAAD Brian Baldassarre, Filippo Koch, Dionisis Klavdianos, Daniel Veenboer

Firstly, India is magical. I could never imagine to walk into to a place that is so foreign to me. However, with a dissimilar land, also comes different cultures, and learning to adapt to surrounding work cultures proved to be a challenge at first, however I quickly learnt to adapt. Looking back, think I finally understand what giving 120% means, and as the age-old saying goes, it was all worth it in the end.

Developing Countries, India, Product Design, Strategy, User Interaction (UX) Design, Bicycles & Rickshaws

Ir. Annemiek van Boeijen (Professor, TU Delft), Dr. Ir. Vikram Singh (Assistant Professor, TU Delft) & Dr. ir. Jan Carel Diehl (Professor, TU Delft)

In collaboration with: