Talixo, Yet Another European Taxi App Startup, Gets Backed

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Now that TechCrunch has launched slideshows galleries I’m thinking of lining one up to illustrate the proliferation of on-demand car services/taxi apps in Europe. Earlier today there was Estonia’s Taxify taking in a $100,000 seed.

And here’s another pulling in investment: Talixo, this time hailing (ho-ho) from Germany but with ambitions to expand beyond its home market down the road.

(As my TC colleague Ingrid Lunden put it, taxi/ride sharing apps are the photo sharing apps of 2014.)

The Berlin-based startup, which was founded in 2012 and launched a pilot service in the city last summer, has closed what it describes as a 5x oversubscribed round. Unfortunately it’s not actually disclosing how much it’s raised — beyond saying it’s in the “low” seven digits. So let’s assume it’s €1 million then.

Investors in Talixo’s new round are the Investment Bank of Berlin; Matthew Witt, former COO of booking.com; and an unnamed private investor.

How does Talixo differ from all the other taxi/ride sharing startups currently burning rubber in Europe? Well, it doesn’t differ from all its rivals. But it’s not just a standalone app. It’s taking a platform approach, and is pulling in both traditional taxis and private drivers to service ride demand.

Its online booking engine also supports pre-booking of cabs, not just on-demand hailing. And it offers free fleet management software for providers, so they can manage their capacity and optimize routes.

There are no fixed monthly costs for the taxis, minicabs and limo providers — they purely pay commission on booked rides. They also get to set their own pricing, but are obviously competing in a marketplace environment against other cab firms and drivers using the platform — since users get to choose which services they want to use, based on factors such as price.

Payments for rides are made to the customer’s pre-registered credit cards after they hand over a payment pin to the driver at journey’s end — to keep things simple and cash free.

Talixo says it plans to have expanded to all Germany’s major cities by this summer — doubtless helped by its new cash injection.

There’s certainly some clear blue water between Talixo’s approach to transport mobility vs Uber (or Lyft which is eyeing Europe), but it’s by no means the only European startup offering fleet management services or accepting existing taxi companies as customers or offering its users the ability to pre-book. There’s the likes of Kabbee in the U.K. or indeed this morning’s Taxify, in Estonia. But it’s certainly another player in the space, and one in a sizeable (European) market.

Talixo also makes a point of underlining its emollient approach — saying it’s aiming to work with and for all the stakeholders in the transport market – cab firms, private drivers and customers — rather than just servicing one group at the expense of another. (It’s easy to say that, of course, harder to achieve a balance in practice.)

When it first set up the business, it says it worked with the head of the Berlin Taxi Association, Richard Leipold, who has recently been fighting Uber in the city — winning a court injunction against the company in Berlin earlier this month. So having him on side appears to be good strategy, at least for now.

“Leipold, who is currently being positioned as the ‘innovation blocker’ actually worked with us when we started up to help us understand the industry, and create something that works for everyone, taxi drivers, private drivers, and customers,” Talixo tells TechCrunch.

“Often, someone ‘loses’ in the interaction – sometimes, it’s drivers pitted against drivers, sometimes it’s customers who pay over $400 for a 25 min ride. A win-win is possible. (I don’t think anyone is against open, fair, legal competition.),” it adds.

In other words, it’s arguing that it’s possible to use technology to build an attractive business without having to act like the bad guy. It’s a thought.