There is something alluring to entrepreneurs about the New York taxi system. Mainly, it’s messy. One taxi drives around W. 4th St., looking for fares, while around the corner a frazzled passenger tries vainly to hail one of the occupied cabs on Seventh Ave. How inefficient! There should be an app for this, thinks the entrepreneur.
And that’s how GetTaxi came to be. Technology has changed, but the way we hail cabs has not, the company says. After bringing its app to Israel, London and Moscow, GetTaxi has raised $20 million and set its sights on New York, where it will launch in the coming months, said Jing Wang Herman, CEO of GetTaxi USA. “The customer experience for taxis has really been the same for decades,” she said. “I think everyone would agree that there’s definitely room for improvement.”Ms. Herman has lived in New York for 12 years. She went to NYU, worked on Wall Street, and got her taxi license in 2009. She’s been thinking about the taxi business for a while. GetTaxi plans to build out a team in New York in the “next few months”–she was mum on specifics–and then launch in the city before moving on to the rest of the nation.
We’ve been chronicling the trouble that San Francisco-based car service Uber has had breaking into the New York market for a while. GetTaxi also matches drivers to passengers and relies on customers’ smartphones to make the experience of getting a cab that much easier. However, this app is for taxis, not black cars, and it’s free for passengers.
Drivers get a plug-and-play device that will let them join the GetTaxi network, find passengers, and crowdsource where to find fares. GetTaxi charges its corporate customers, who use it to manage their travel costs. GetTaxi is being used by Google, PriceWaterhouseCooper, Disney, hotels, law firms and hedge funds, Ms. Herman said. GetTaxi also offers enterprise clients a website where it’s easy for executives or their assistants to book a car, and 24-hour human customer service with real live humans.
New York City just issued a request for proposals “for a smartphone application that will allow passengers to pay their cab fare with their smart phone.” GetTaxi can do that, but it can do much more, Ms. Herman said, like allow passengers to specify if they want an eco-friendly car or a wheelchair-accessible car. Other possibilities include cab-sharing and paying with a family account. “There’s a ton more that you could do with technology. I think New Yorkers specifically are ready for this.”
The company plans to submit a proposal in response to the city’s RFP, but it will launch in New York regardless of whether it’s accepted.
She cited the ideas proposed for the last Big Apps competition. “People said, ‘why isn’t there an app to hail a taxi? Why can’t I pay for a taxi for my child remotely? Why can’t I track when my girlfriend got home safely? How do I share a taxi?’ These days there’s an app for everything. There’s really superior technology and it’s time that we bring that solution to New York.”
GetTaxi has $30 million in funding total and currently employs 110 people worldwide. The app has launched in Moscow, London and in 13 cities in Israel.