Taxi E-Hail Startup Flywheel Launches In Los Angeles To Take On Uber, Lyft, And SideCar

Mobile taxi-hailing app Flywheel is growing fast, doubling its number of rides over just the last two-and-a-half months. And with new funding in place, it’s looking to enter new markets to provide a way for passengers to hail a cab from their mobile phones. The next big market it’s launched in is Los Angeles, where it already has 300 drivers lined up to start accepting rides via the app.

Flywheel recently raised a $14.8 million Series B round led by Craton Equity Partners, with participation from RockPort Capital and Shasta Ventures. It got that money to expand its service to new markets, and expanding it is.

With the exception of San Francisco, Flywheel is mostly available in a number of smaller markets, such as Cleveland, Ohio; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Lansing, Mich.; Lexington, Ky.; Louisville, Ky.; Miami, Fla.; Naples, Fla.; and Oklahoma City, Okla. Bringing the service to Los Angeles will greatly expand its potential customer base.

Just as Uber partners with black car companies to get drivers for its mobile ride service, FlyWheel works with taxi fleets to enable e-hailing in the various cities that it operates in. As a result, it was able to very quickly turn up service in L.A., going from zero to 300 drivers in just about 10 days, according to CEO Steve Humphreys.

By launching in L.A., Flywheel will be bringing electronic hails to taxis in a market where consumers are already pretty accustomed to using their mobile phones for transportation. Uber, Lyft, and SideCar have launched service in the city — which means there’s already significant competition in the market. But Flywheel will be the first significant player to have a large number of yellow cabs available.

Flywheel’s Los Angeles launch also comes as there’s some question about the legality of ride sharing services in the city. Although the California Public Utilities Commission has struck deals with Uber, Lyft, and SideCar to enable them to operate, and has also proposed regulations that would legitimize ride sharing in the state, local authorities in L.A. have attempted to shut down services that allow drivers without commercial licenses to get paid for providing rides to passengers.

Flywheel, of course, is trying to position itself as an alternative to the anarchy that is ride sharing: “This is in contrast to several ride-sharing applications currently available. Unlike those solutions, Flywheel offers a safe and reliable way to get around LA,” the company says in its press release.

Anyway, if you’re in L.A., or San Francisco, or Oklahoma City, try it out.