Saturday Jul 26, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
32o C
23o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Homegrown mobile and Internet taxi application set to go worldwide

By Yiannis Palaiologos

It all began on a summer night in 2010, when 47-year-old Nikos Drandakis, a business consultant specializing in new technologies and media, was stuck in a remote part of the northern Athenian suburb of Kifissia and couldn’t find a cab.

“As I looked at a map of the area on my iPhone, I thought how great it would be if I could see the locations of the nearest taxis,” he told Kathimerini recently.

That was the first hint of his idea for Taxibeat, a mobile and Internet application for calling a taxi that greatly changed the taxi market in Athens when it was launched and has already expanded to Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Mexico City. The company recently announced that the London-based venture capital fund Hummingbird Ventures is to invest some 3 million euros in the scheme.

“We are looking to expand quickly,” Drandakis said, arguing that the taxi market is changing dramatically all over the world. “If we wait to enter these markets with our own capital, after we’ve started to turn a profit, we will lose valuable ground.”

Drandakis said that the comparative advantage of Hummingbird Ventures over other prospective investors is that it has “people with experience, who are giving us the know-how to build an international technology company.” Taxibeat’s collaboration with Hummingbird is indicative of the speed with which the Greek start-up, which was established in 2011, has transformed from a local endeavor into a business with international ambitions.

The path to expansion has not been obstacle-free, however: Drandakis had no prior experience in starting up a business and coming up with the initial capital in a period before the European Union-backed JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises) program was a process that took several months. Penetrating the market was also no easy matter.

“I visited all the taxi stands in Athens and got to know the drivers individually,” Drandakis said, adding that he now has representatives doing the same in every city into which Taxibeat expands. Going around in Athens, the crisis worked in his favor.

“The drivers were in dire need of clients. We offered a service that would increase their clientele without them having to pay a regular subscription,” the Taxibeat CEO said.

Taxibeat charges drivers who subscribe to the service for each fare they book. Initially the drivers paid 0.50 euros. Today they pay 10 percent of their total fares.

Another big help for Taxibeat was the emergence of a start-up culture. In the first few months of its existence, for example, the company was housed in CoLab, the first co-working space set up for new businesses in Athens. The first batch of start-up money came from Openfund – the predecessor of Openfund II, one of the four investment capitals of the JEREMIE program – as a result of a start-up community Opencoffee event. One of Taxibeat’s first investors was Nikos Moraitakis, then an executive at Upstream and now CEO of the recruitment software developer Workable.

Drandakis hopes that new innovative companies and investors with expertise in the field will emerge from the Taxibeat team, which comprises a number of shareholders in the company.

The most fascinating part of the Taxibeat story, however, is how it has transformed the taxi market in the Greek capital. There was a time when taxi drivers would try to charge their customers extra even for air conditioning and the customer had no way of evaluating the driver, meaning that drivers had no motivation for improving their services. Taxibeat offers users the name and profile of their driver as well as a ranking composed of customers’ evaluations. In the past year, 800 of the company’s fleet of 2,500 cabs have been equipped with Wi-Fi.

“The most important reforms in any market are achieved mainly through technology,” Drandakis said.

And it is true that Taxibeat has managed to change the sector more significantly than its liberalization under the terms of Greece’s bailout agreement with the country’s creditors did, and this without all the drama between the government and cabbies back in 2012.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday Jan 15, 2014 (17:18)  
Greeks Gone West: Greg Yatanes
Study finds Greeks with soft spot for conspiracy theories are more likely to hold anti-Semitic views
Greeks Gone West: Ted Maglaris
Greeks Gone West: John Aravosis
Tale of Greek woman gone rogue to premiere at Locarno
“A Blast,” a new feature film by director Syllas Tzoumerkas, will premiere at the 67th Locarno Film Festival at the beginning of August. The movie, winner of the Eurimages Co-production Deve...
From the bougatsan to the cronut, hybrid pastries are the word
Cronut lovers will be pleased to know that the delicious pastry has now reached Greek shores. Others may ask: What exactly is a cronut? Last May in New York, chef Dominique Ansel mixed a dou...
Inside Life
Inside Travel
Inside Gastronomy
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Trade deficit grows 9.5 pct in Jan-May
2. Number of 5-star hotel rooms rises 31.4 percent in four years
3. Greeks get slightly less downbeat
4. Banks reluctant to issue credit
5. MP steps in to get power back on at invalid’s home
6. Civil servants who changed contracts to undergo checks
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greek coast guard picks up 77 migrants off Myconos
2. Draghi safety net becoming blindfold as bonds soar
3. Godfather, 35, shot at Karditsa christening dies
4. Aegean Airlines resumes flights to Tel Aviv
5. Thousands of dead fish surface in Lake Pamvotis
6. Police report points to less crime in 2014
Today
This Week
1. Greece seen in third bailout as bonds not enough, economists say
2. Climber dies in Mount Olympus fall
3. Greek sovereign debt at 174.1 percent of GDP in first quarter
4. Unequal after death
5. Hedge fund Dromeus turns Greek tragedy to triumph with 160 pct gain
6. Quadriplegic woman on life support 'dies due to unpaid power bills'
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.