Click A Taxi, one of the many apps in the increasingly congested car-service apps market, is today announcing a couple of key developments that it hopes will help it zoom past the competition in the months ahead. It’s picked up $1.5 million round of angel funding from serial entrepreneur Tommy Ahlers; and it is expanding to Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, taking the total number of markets it’s covering to nine, including also the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, and its home market of Denmark. In all, it now covers some 230 million people.
While companies like Uber have used their technology to bring users high-end vehicles; Hailo and GetTaxi focus on ordering cars from established Black and Yellow firms; and Lyft, SideCar and Carpoooling are more focused on ride sharing, Click A Taxi is taking a different approach. It has developed a platform to to work as an aggregator for everyone else, adding in options like mini cab firms (popular in Europe) and other smaller fleets into the mix.
The service is pretty simple at the front end: users have their location identified by the app (iPhone, Android or Windows Phone), or they can choose another location, and then note whether they want the cab now or for a specific time. They select “go” and the car options get presented to them.
It’s at the back end that things gets interesting. Click A Taxi integrates with the car-ordering software that the firms use to manage their own fleets, but it also offers them its own fleet management software. Køster says that so far the cab companies it has approached have been very receptive to the idea: “Local taxi companies are hungry to go to cloud-based scalable software solutions and we provide everything from lifting their call center work to the upcoming launch of of a brand new SaaS dispatch system,” he says.
Click A Taxi takes a fixed pay-as-you-go fee of less than £ 0.50 for sending bookings to the preferred partners it works with. (Those fees may sound low but as an aggregator, it’s model is built on scale.)
And just as it’s not tied to any one car service, Click A Taxi is not tied to its own app: Today it’s offering its service directly to consumers, but eventually it hopes to release an API so that the cab ordering option can be embedded elsewhere. Nikolaj Køster, co-founder, tells me that early discussions have involved airline firms, who could put the services into their apps or on their own website. And Søren Halskov Nissen, the other co-founder and Click A Taxi’s CEO, has shown me a test it’s running with another large third party that is increasingly getting involved in local recommendation and commerce services and is considering adding car services into the mix.
The company is still in its early days but so far has been showing some promise. Køster says that Click A Taxi enables a booking “every minute” somewhere in Northern Europe, where it has been in operation for the last 12 months. It is not yet giving out any user numbers or revenue figures.
And while the founders have been putting some of their own money into the project, they have also attracted some interesting angel investors: their newest, Ahlers, earlier this year sold Podio to Citrix for $50 million+ and prior to that sold ZYB to Vodafone for $50 million. And existing backer Claus Moseholm co-founded goviral in 2003 and sold it to AOL (TC’s owner) in 2011 for $96.7 million.
The attraction is in that category of “innovation at the edges of the forest”, technology disrupting spaces that might not be perceived as “technological”, which Yammer’s David Sacks has described. “My experience from building ZYB and Podio taught me just how important it is to have a great idea, for a big market with a team that can do it – fast,” says Ahlers. “Click A Taxi ticks these boxes and is a great example of applying clever digital solutions to an old industry.”