Newly-launched Uber competitor Taxify has had a ripping first 100 days in the Australian market, with local country manager Sam Raciti saying the company’s launch into Melbourne was the “most successful we’ve seen” so far and local consumers are keen for a change.
With services now live in Sydney and Melbourne, the Estonian-founded startup says it has lured in more than 350,000 riders over its first three-and-a-half months of operations after its official launch in December last year. This growth is impressive especially considering the company missed its self-imposed deadline for launching in Melbourne before Christmas.
On the driver side, Taxify says it has over 4,000 drivers in Sydney and more than 10,000 registered in Melbourne. This is a far cry from Uber’s approximately 85,000 active drivers, but a strong performance for a market newcomer.
Speaking to StartupSmart, Raciti said Taxify’s Melbourne debut was the most successful city launch for the 2013-founded company, which has operations in more than 20 countries.
“Following our launch in Sydney, we had drummed up interest from riders who were keen to have a challenger in the market. We also were able to educate drivers in Melbourne on the benefits of driving with Taxify, which meant we had a significant number of drivers on board before launch,” he says.
However, Taxify doesn’t just have Uber to worry about; the ride-sharing provider has a new competitor to butt heads with after Indian startup Ola launched its Melbourne offering last week. Already, Ola says it has had over 15,000 driver registrations, but it’s unknown how many of those are active drivers.
Raciti believes there’s enough room in the Australian market for three significant ride-share providers, saying the company “embraces competition”, which benefits both riders and drivers equally.
In terms of Taxify differentiating itself, Raciti says it’s a matter of the company being able to let drivers and riders know what makes it different.
“We think it’s just a matter of educating the local communities about what we offer to both riders and drivers that makes us unique. Riders can expect more attractive fares as we endeavour to remain 5% cheaper than Uber,” he says.
“However, we also recognise that our drivers are the backbone of our business …‘Driver delight’ has and always will be one of our core principles and we are happy to see others in the market doing the same.”
On the startup side, the ‘others in the market’ are few, with Australia’s main homegrown ride-sharing company GoCatch recently refocusing the business towards corporate ride-sharing.
Australia does have a number of well-established niche offerings, however, including female-only app Shebah, which recently expanded out of Sydney and Melbourne across Australia.
“We’re doing something really different. It’s a bit of a wake-up call that other services haven’t been responsive enough, there’s a growing resentment to the 60 percent passengers of Ubers and cabs, who are women and who want a safer option,” Shebah founder George McEncroe said at the time.
Asked if he believes there’s still room for innovation and new players in Australia’s ride-sharing market, Raciti says: “The transport industry in Australia as a whole has a lot of potential for continued disruption that’s not limited to ride-share”.
“Taxify is going to continue to be a part of the industry’s ongoing innovation,” he says