It’s safe to say goCatch hasn’t had a smooth ride since its launch a year ago, even though many users of the smartphone app may have had one or more.
The disruptive service both threatened and stirred up taxi alliances. This was because the app freed cabbies and allowed passengers the online equivalent of flagging a cab anytime. With cabbie councils hitting back, citing a lack of passenger safety, goCatch was pushed on the defensive, and never quite hit the high gears.
The startup may have just put all that behind, and be ready to raise gears.
goCatch, in the spirit of its name, went out to CeBIT and netted GM Cabs as a partner. The deal has the potential to give legitimacy to goCatch, besides powering its growth in the future.
“We could have continued on our own and we would eventually, have achieved success. The support of GM reduces the risk and accelerates the pace of our efforts and means we will get there faster,” goCatch co-founder Andrew Campbell told Anthill.
Poised for growth
According to Campbell, 5,500 taxi drivers and 50,000 passengers have downloaded the goCatch app. It is not clear how many are active users. Still, Campbell is satisfied with the numbers and “the steady organic growth month on month,” especially given the startup has so far spent nothing on advertising.
GM is an old player in the taxi industry with a 20-year history. It reportedly processes Australia’s largest volume of taxi fares, too. Established in 1996, it has operations in many locations across Australia, including sites in New South Wales, Victoria, Adelaide, Perth, South Australia and Tasmania. Recently, GM Cabs launched a new “innovative” taxi network in Sydney, one of the largest markets.
“GM brings with them direct relationships with thousands of drivers. We have always been very focused on drivers, so as an operational and distribution partner they are a very good fit,” said Campbell. “This deal will help us consolidate, grow and provide service to our user base of goCatch drivers.”
“GM Cabs and goCatch are a great fit. We can bring industry knowledge and market reach, and goCatch has the latest technology for taxi drivers and passengers,” said George Mikhael, the founder of GM Cabs who started out as a cabbie.
Under the deal between the two companies, GM Cabs will provide marketing support to increase taxi driver downloads and operational support to engage and train taxi drivers.
goCatch has been partially funded by the New South Wales Department of Trade and Investment’s Collaborative Solutions program and supported by Google, Microsoft, Nokia, PayPal and Research in Motion. It last year won the $50,000 top prize at Tech23, a program sponsored in part by the New South Wales government and run by Slattery IT Consulting.
goCatch can be downloaded free from the iTunes App Store, the Android Marketplace and the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.