Posted on November 19, 2018 by staff

‘Powerful’ tech is helping local taxis take on Uber


Local taxi companies can take on tech giants like Uber by using Software as a Service (SaaS) says Autocab CEO Safa Alkateb.

Autocab hails from a traditional taxi background, but after a recent transition into a SaaS-based company, its white label software iGO is revolutionising the industry.

Handling over a million bookings a day for 55,000 taxis in the UK alone via the dispatch platform, Alkateb believes local taxi companies can beat Uber at its own game using their tech.

“If you look at our customers competing with likes of Uber, they can do the same thing the big tech companies do except for operating globally or nationally,” he told BusinessCloud

The issue is that local companies tend to be local to one particular city, but global workers and travellers now want an app that will work wherever they are.

iGo’s network currently has 450 local taxi companies in the UK, which means that if the user gets a lift from their local company, for example, DG Cars in Nottingham, they download their app and can book a ride.

However, things get interesting when the user goes to Manchester and opens the same app to see local Manchester taxi firm Street Cars in the app. They can book and pay for the ride through the app as usual and DG Cars moves the money to Street Cars afterwards.

“It’s powerful tech and it’s really helped our customers go to their customers and say, ‘even Uber can’t do this for you’,” he said.

“This is the future of mobility and transport and it’s just beginning in our industry. What we needed was cloud-based tech, mobile phones and good coverage of mobile networks – all those things needed to happen before someone could do something global.”

It also gives companies an analytics package which is helpful due to the amount of data the taxi industry generates.

“You don’t have to talk to drivers or customers, by looking at analytics you can identify the five or six things you need to do to fix your business,” said Alkateb.

In order to get where they are today the company had to undergo a major infrastructure overhaul, which was a risky move but ultimately rewarding.

“I’m now a global expert in SaaS transition,” jokes Alkateb.

“You go from a business where everyone pays you cash up front to one where people are paying you over a 3-4 year period. Most companies who make transition actually back out because they couldn’t get the cash flow to work – it’s really tricky.”

Four years ago the company transitioned its core product from hardware to SaaS but had to sell auxiliary products on an upfront basis to fund the transition. It’s now also upgraded all of its internal tools as well.

“We’ve just completed everything and now we can sit back, put our feet on a stool, relax and see the money coming in,” said Alkateb.

“Of course it won’t actually be like that but you get returning revenue so you don’t have to sell more – anything you add on becomes profit so the company is twice as valuable as when it got started three years ago. It’s the difference between survival and not.”