Cabsolutely to be a great success in the USA
Virág Réti and András Simon, two young Hungarians have created the app, Cabsolutely. The application was originally meant to help people using public transport to do their daily shopping duties, but the idea was impossible to put into practice. Today, already three cab companies are using their invention, in Nashville and Oklahoma City. The app serves dispatchers and passengers at the same time, and this is considered something new on the market. So far, they aim to expand on the USA market, but later they want to target the European market, too. Szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu made a Skype interview with Virág, because she is in Colorado right now.
– Why did you travel to the US?
– We travelled to the US because of a start-up festival. We would have come anyway, to develop our business, to negotiate with cab companies, and to contact partners, investors, but it was basically the festival that defined our trip.
– What have you achieved on the festival?
– For the Hungarian teams, the most important part of this festival was the international accelerator pitch competition, which took place in the first few days. We won the seventh place among one or two hundred entrants. We have met people who could be good mentors for us, business relationships have started to develop which, however, we still need to spend time on them.
– What is Cabsolutely exactly?
– We develop and sell a product that is very useful for cab companies. Our software has a passenger, a driver and a dispatcher side. Its uniqueness is given by not only serving the passengers but also the dispatchers. If someone orders a cab service on phone, she or he gets into the same system as if he or she was ordering online, through our app. For example, after the dispatcher recorded the data, the underlying software intelligence chooses the closest available cab to the passenger. Many cab companies purchase one software from one company and another from anther one, and then they used them at the same time, then trying to adjust them to each other. One company providing all sides of the software solution, so having all rides going through the same system no matter if called via app or via phone is a new concept for the industry.
– But this was not the original idea, was it?
– We kicked off a start-up with András in the autumn of 2013. That happened just at the time when I finished my university studies, and the research work was not challenging enough for me. This was the main reason why we started our start-up with András, who is also an engineer. We wanted to solve people’s difficulties who have to carry huge shopping bags by public transport after doing their shopping in IKEA, for example. We came up with the idea of transport-share, as a solution. We elaborated our idea, and we were also admitted to an acceleration programme in Memphis, however, it turned out that our idea is totally not compatible with the American market, because everyone has a car in the US, what is more, at some settlements, travelling by public transport is directly embarrassing. In Tennessee, we decided to develop our idea in a different way. By that time, we already discovered another problem waiting for solution: often, people stand in line at airports waiting for cabs to take them to the same hotel where other people go. However, instead of standing there, they could just sit next to each other, in the same car, saving money and time. We planned to install the app for party quarters and transport hubs. The app was successful in its early phase, because the employees, the drivers and the representatives of the cab companies, the airports and the conference centres, as well as the passengers themselves, told us that they liked the app very much. So we started to cooperate with a cab company, but we realised that our new system cannot be integrated with theirs, because what they are currently using is actually older than me. So we decided to direct the development of the whole system to serve cab companies, because they are the ones who need it the most.
– Do the cab companies lack such technological background in the US as well?
– In 2014 Uber started to spread rapidly, and it appeared in Tennessee as well. We saw that cab companies were anxiously searching for an alternative. We told them that they could not keep up with Uber, because they did not have a technology developed enough. More precisely: because they believed they had, but they actually did not.
– Essentially, András and you run Cabsolutely. What are your tasks?
– Both of us are engineers. He is a software developer and I am a molecular bionics engineer. At my university I have learnt well how to bridge less software-centered layers of society (doctors, researchers) and engineers. This is a very useful skill set to date, especially when I negotiate with cab companies. András manages software development, and I am in charge of the sales, business development and communication. We are working well as a team and we have 4 other people helping us in different areas.
– What is your business model?
– Cab companies pay us a monthly fee to use the system, and passengers using the mobile app are charged a little convenience fee – this is common practice in the US.
– How did you convince the three taxi fleets you are working with that your system good for them?
– We figured out their biggest problems and after that as they started listening, it was easy. The quality of the system and the team’s determination adds a lot to it. The way we see it, we place more emphasis on customer service than on our competition does, and this is attractive because people at cab companies might not be an expert in using smart phones.
– What about Hungarian companies? Do they welcome your ideas or are there any legal obstacles for the development?
– We have tried to develop partnerships in Hungary, too. There were some companies that were open towards us, but the majority of them got too comfortable when Uber was kicked out of the country. To put it simply, they do not feel it necessary to develop their technology, because they are not forced to do it.
– Is Uber the cause of development everywhere?
– Cab companies were in monopoly everywhere in the world. They have been following their own rules and law always protected them. Then came Uber, it jumbled everything, and suddenly all the cab companies slapped themselves on the brow, because they realized that they also had to take steps.
– Will Cabsolutely come to Europe as well?
– We are planning to expand to Europe as well, but the primer objective is to get a grip of the market in the US. First, we need a good reference when entering the market, and second, we do not want to fitter away our resources. Going further, our vision is to provide cab companies with technology. We would like to have an app with which you can order a ride from any cab company as a passenger in any city. It is simply a nonsense that every time you travel to a new place, you have to download ten apps and compare them to each other, not to mention that you have to add your credit card info and personal data each time.
Therefore, we first aim to expand in the middle region of the US, and we will expand the app starting from the centre till the coasts. Then, based on the market at that point, we decide whether the next move should be the coastal cities or Europe.
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Source: Szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu, https://www.cabsolutely.co/