It looks like it just might, after roping in Pacific Venture Advisors – run by Australia’s Vikram Mehta but headquartered in Silicon Valley with an office in Sydney – as an investor, raising to $3.7 million its total funding since 2011.
“The new investment will be used to help launch ingogo into new markets across Australia and internationally,” the taxi-booking company said in a statement.
'Go West, and way up North'
Mehta is a tech veteran who built a startup – Blade Network Technologies, Inc. – during the global financial crisis, before selling it to IBM. Since then he has run the venture firm.
Mehta and his firm will be “guiding ingogo through the company’s expansion plans, particularly into the U.S. market and will also help provide access to further capital funds,” ingogo said. By virtue of the investment, Mehta will take a board seat in early September.
Disruption is everything
ingogo founder and Managing Director Hamish Petrie called Mehta a huge asset for the startup.
“Vikram has a deep understanding of the U.S. market as well as great insights around accelerating technology start-ups,” said Petrie, who was previously a co-founder of the ticketing company Moshtix. “We’re looking forward to taking on his deep knowledge in the entrepreneurial space and applying this to our future expansion plans – something we’re incredibly excited about.”
According to Petrie, ingogo has built relationships with about 15 per cent of Sydney’s cabbies in its first full year of operation. Its drivers put more than $10,000 a month through the ingogo payment system, and its app has registered 70,000 downloads. ingogo also runs a “limited pilot” in Melbourne.
The world over, startups using relatively nascent and simple technologies, notably smartphones, are disrupting the entrenched, and monopolistic, taxi industry. In the U.S., exciting ones include uber, which has also entered Australia, which has no dearth of its own. Notable ones Down Under include, besides ingogo, goCatch and mTaxi – each of which has had to battle local systems, and sometimes laws. But having the Australian Federal Government as a backer – as ingogo has – must be an advantage.
ingogo was founded by the team that started Moshtix, the ticketing system that prides on having given Ticketmaster a run for its money. Its early backers include MYOB co-founder Brad Shofer; ArgyStar.com CEO Philip Argy, Nick McNaughton of Capital Angels, Stuart Fox, former managing director of APAC Commodities; the Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund; Daniel Petre and Alison Deans, founders of successful early stage fund NETUS; Martin Dalgleig, advisor to Ellerston Capital and previously director of Seek and Carsales, and other members of Sydney Angels.
Taxis and more; adding bells and whistles
Besides the basic taxi features – allowing customers to directly book a taxi with their smartphone – ingogo provides passengers with an alternative payment method through an in-taxi payment terminals or via virtual mobile accounts. The smartphones used by its drivers have a built-in payments processing feature.