The race to get the most compelling taxi app to your nearest smart-phone is revving up.
Ingogo is playing catch-up with goCatch, the iPhone app that won the $50,000 top prize at Tech23 last month. But it may have stolen a march by attracting an impressive line-up of marquee investors, giving it new muscle to quickly ramp up operations.
Last week, some of the smartest investors in the country demonstrated their belief in the power of this disruptive idea, placing cash (and faith) in the entrepreneurial ability of ingogo founder and serial entrepreneur Hamish Petrie (perhaps better known for founding Moshtix).
In first-round funding from private investors, Petrie won the backing of MYOB co-founder Brad Shofer and Will Easton, Google’s director of mobile sales and operations in the APAC region.
Others investing in the startup include Philip Argy, a member of Sydney Angels and CEO of ArgyStar.com, Nick McNaughton, deputy chairman of Capital Angels, and Stuart Fox, a Sydney Angel and former managing director and head of APAC Commodities at UBS AG.
“I’m excited at the opportunity which ingogo presents. There is little doubt that the need is there to improve the status quo in the taxi industry,” said Shofer.
Easton tied ingogo’s potential with the rise in sales of smartphones – mobility being a key differentiator to the service that also can be provided over the desktop computer.
“ingogo is utilising the explosion of smartphone devices and the associated ground-breaking technologies to enable Australian consumers to request taxi’s in a quicker, easier and more interactive way than ever before,” he said.
Pedigreed entrepreneur inspires confidence
Shofer also believes in the management skills of the management team led by Petrie, saying: “They are about doing it right in the long-term.”
Petrie is a serial entrepreneur most famous for starting Moshtix, a digital ticketing system that challenged Ticketek and Ticketmaster, among others. Four years ago, he sold the successful startup to News Digital Media.
Petrie believes his new startup has at least one thing in common with Moshtix. Both passengers and taxi drivers are “getting the same raw deal that ticket buyers, venues and promoters were getting before Moshtix” changed the equation.
An entrepreneurial journey… or race?
Ingogo’s service is similar to that of goCatch, about whom we have written in the past.
Like goCatch, ingogo is hoping to turn the taxi industry on its head. Its service allows passengers connect with drivers via web, mobile and GPS technology. A free smartphone app and online service lets users request a taxi and ingogo’s taxi platform lets people know exactly where their taxi is in real time.
Ingogo’s technology is currently on trial with 200 drivers and is expected to be launched to the NSW market early next month. Ingogo says it expects more than 500 taxis to be live on the service when it launches and several thousand consumers ready to use it. The startup has counted 46,943 visitors to its web site since July.
Perhaps learning from goCatch’s dust-up with Taxi Council of Queensland over possible misuse of the service by non-licenced cabbies, ingogo is building passenger safeguards. All ingogo taxi drivers are first validated to meet “strict transport legislative requirements” and besides are tracked by GPS throughout the ride – an elevated safety standard compared with goCatch’s more recent ratings system.
May we say, “Enjoy the ride,” to both passengers and investors!