Taxibeat, an iOS and Android taxi app with an innovative approach to hailing a cab (which works particularly well in emerging markets), has secured a new $4 million funding round from London-based Hummingbird Ventures. The startup previously raised $3 million from private investors and has been expanding its services across urban centres in European cities like Athens and Paris, and in Latin America, including Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro and, most recently, Sao Paulo. Founded in Athens in May, 2011, Taxibeat says it currently serves $40 million (USD) in taxi cab transactions annually and is growing at a rate of 18 percent month over month. We covered their formal launch at Le Web last year.
Now, while there are plenty of taxi apps (Easy Taxi, Hailo, myTaxi, GetTaxi, you name it) Taxibeat has a genuinely different approach. Whereas most apps simply find the nearest available taxi that can pick you up – a method which works fine in developed countries where the taxis are already regulated – Taxibeat allows you to pick the taxi driver that you prefer, based your preferences and the ratings from previous customers. That means it works very well in booming emerging markets, where formal regulation and oversight of taxis remains thin on the ground. It could even give some apps like Lyft a run for their money.
On the flip side, it puts the drivers much more in control of their brand and business. On Hailo and others, all they can do is a have a very simple profile and a star-based ratings system. On Taxibeat, the drivers have the opportunity to sell themselves. Drivers get full profiles (i.e. spoken languages, types of cars and interior amenities) allowing them to build up a repeat customer base. Want wifi and on-bard phone charging? Want to take your dog with you? Taxibeat allows drivers to display these options. The taxi drivers pay a small commission on rides they earn through Taxibeat,
Nikos Drandakis, Taxibeat founder and CEO says Taxibeat makes vying for customers competitive because it does more than strip out the call to the taxi operator or create a simple ‘blind date’ between passengers and drivers. This is more like Airbnb for Taxis.
Mexico City licenses 100,000 taxis, while Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro license 31,000 and 28,000 taxis, respectively. So there is plenty of opportunity for Taxibeat to do well there.