There never seems to be a taxi when you need one so perhaps Click A Taxi, a mobile application launched fresh on to the UK and Ireland markets yesterday, can plug that gap.
Unlike other startups in the space, the company says it is going for countrywide coverage as opposed to just focusing on cities.
The app, also live in Scandinavia, takes advantage of GPS to pinpoint the customer once they have booked a taxi and refer the booking to the nearest taxi partner. Taxi companies are then charged a small service fee.
By the end of the year, the plan is to extend it to all of Western Europe and other parts of the world for a slice of the Euros 27 billion potential market.
On angel investment of Euro 500,000 the startup has already built up a sizeable team of 18 including:
- SÃ¸ren Halskov Nissen, CEO and co-founder
- Peter Theill, co-founder, development
- Michael Vivet, co-founder and director of development
- Nikolaj KÃ¸ster, co-founder and director of communications
Q&A with Click A Taxi co-founder Nikolaj Koster:
How is the way you are solving this problem more special or effective than previous attempts you or the market has seen before and how different do you have to be to succeed?
Thereâ€™s no doubt that thereâ€™s a lot of competition in the taxi app market. Click A Taxi stands out because we are the only company to provide a global solution. By the end of 2012 Click A Taxi will be available in nearly every city in Western Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific (including China) and parts of Africa.
In the UK, that means that if youâ€™re a Londoner travelling to Bath for the weekend you can use our app in both places. If youâ€™re travelling to New York for the weekend, you can use our app there too. This is how weâ€™re radically different from companies like Hailo and Uber, which both provide great solutions, but only for a very limited number of very large cities â€“ so taking a taxi with them will always involve choosing one of ten different apps depending on the location. Ultimately, they provide a novel user experience, but not a terribly practical one.
Why should people or companies use your startup?
Apart from the fact that our app provides the best coverage, itâ€™s easy to use and ensures a quality travelling experience every time. We currently have an operations team of ten, who thoroughly investigate every taxi company operating in a new rollout destination and pick the best one for each city. We only make agreements with taxi services we would want to travel with. This ensures that when our users get a taxi with us they always get great service with fair pricing from the taxi company, friendly drivers and a safe car. We do all this work investigating taxi companies for you. So every time you use our app (no matter where you are) you donâ€™t have to worry about the details, you just have to click â€˜bookâ€™.
Other than going viral and receiving mountains of positive PR, what is the strategy for raising awareness and getting customers/users?
Because our platform is so universal, it is easily integrated into a number of online platforms that are perhaps a little unexpected. We want to be the number one taxi service aggregator in the world and that means that every time you want to go somewhere, we want our service to be available to help you. For example, if youâ€™re booking a hotel online, many sites currently offer the ability to hire a car at the same time. We want you to be able to book your taxi to the train station or the airport at the same time. We want to be the Google of taxi services. Integration into a wider range of platforms will be key to expanding our audience beyond the app and creating a crossover flow of users.
What other options have you considered for the business and the team if the original vision fails?
None. This is our big chance to make a dent in digital history.
What mistakes have you made in the past in business and how have you learned from them?
Only hire A people. Running a start-up is a 24/7 operation and we need the very best go getters and are very happy to have assembled a fantastic team.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Basically we feel that there is too much choice. As technology has advanced and more and more people have access to the internet constantly at their fingertips, we have seen a proliferation of services for every niche market. So far, thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve seen in the taxi industry too, a proliferation of apps for different cities and different types of car services. What most travellers really need is just one app that they know is going to get them from A to B with a consistently high quality of service.
The ambition of the startup to be the Google of taxi services is admirable and it’s great to see much of the 18-strong team is dedicated to finding the best companies to partner with. Â This is really important as it only takes one bad experience, one grumpy driver to switch customers off.
Going countrywide is also ambitious and makes you want to test the system by booking a taxi in a small town in the west of Ireland.
The sort of content partnerships this company manages to pull off will be interesting as the potential is endless in terms of destination sites, airports, restaurant booking services, corporate travel self-booking tools, hotel portals etc.
Having an app that goes across all mobile platforms quickly will be key in the coming months but with strong development skills on board, Click A Taxi probably already has this sussed.
Marketing will also be crucial to target the leisure and corporate travelling consumer.