Kaiian is an app-based taxi company in Saudi Arabia. Less than a year ago they’ve launched their app, aiming to compete with Uber and another local company alike, Careem.
Within about 9 months, Kaiian reached being in the top-three on-demand businesses in Saudi Arabia. Now they give their clients 4,000—5,000 lifts per day, 80% of those — in small towns of the country.
The CEO of Kaiian tells us about growing a taxi business and marketing it rightly.
Bader, the founder of Kaiian, has been a taxi-chauffeur for a time long enough to understand all the peculiarities of the business. He has gathered enough knowledge to come up with a business idea that would give both drivers and passengers exactly what they need: an affordable, ready-to-order, reliable taxi service. The platform for it had to be easy to use, modern, and have enough front-rank features to outperform Uber which was already present in the big cities of Saudi Arabia.
Bader started with outsourcing a company to develop the application for Kaiian. After it was clear explaining all the demands to the outsourcers takes too much time and doesn’t pay back, Bader ordered a white-label app.
Being different than their competitors was extremely important to Kaiian. The company was looking for a platform they’d be able to customize completely. The “musts” were:
Another essential demand was using Kaiian’s own design: logo, color scheme, the whole branding.
“We needed to be different, to be loved for who we are. It’s not easy to enter even a small town here in Saudi Arabia: each town is a community, nobody likes strangers there. We needed to make sure people know and trust Kaiian. Being functional and recognizable are the top priorities, thus.”
Ordering a white label was a way to save a lot of time and effort for the company.
When Kaiian was launching, there were already big players on the taxi market of Saudi Arabia — Uber and Careem. It was evident that competing with them right away would demand a plenty of investments. Kaiian chose for developing a strategy with the aims to:
The initial step was “taking over” the small, quiet towns of Saudi Arabia. Because each town is a community, Bader counted on getting enough positive buzzword.
And he was right:
“We’ve started in the city of Al-Kharj. As soon as people knew we are reliable, knew their friends were using our services, we stopped being “some other taxi company”. We’ve became their trusted family members. Starting in a small town is maybe not that ambitious, but you can succeed easily — and move on to more!”
In three months after the launch, the company managed to reach the point of providing their clients 200 trips per day. After that, the growth paused. Kaiian has already made enough revenue to invest into expanding geographically.
To enter the market of the next two towns, Hail and Yanbu, the company had to lower the prices almost twice. But very soon, the pricing was not the key-factor anymore.
“We were actively present in 30 towns within 2 months. These were small cities, nobody knew Uber over there at first — and when they did, Kaiian was already a strong alternative. At that point we were ready to compete: we had enough money, enough expertise, and enough loyal clients.”
Expanding to the new cities meant attracting new customers and new drivers. Looking for a right tool to do that, Kaiian chose for social media marketing.
“We wanted everybody to talk about Kaiian. So, we needed to choose the most suitable channels, but also to cast our social influencers wisely. Working with the celebrities followers are just jealous of did not fit us. We needed people who are truly loved.”
To find the right influencers, the founders of Kaiian did some hardcore customer development. They settled behind the steering wheels themselves and asked the clients simple questions: “Who do you follow? Who do you really trust?” This was the reliable way to learn about the most respected influencers, but also about the most relevant channels.
At the first stage of promoting, Snapchat and Instagram marketing worked best for Kaiian. As the company wanted to attract people of lower and middle incomes, engaging young clients via Snapchat was a good decision. Instagram promotion was targeted at middle-class people in their 30s and 40s.
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We never hesitate to ask them for a referral or to ask who they follow on social media. This is what our best drivers keep on doing.”
At the next stage of marketing their taxi company, Kaiian decided to invest more into professional support. When the business was about to go to the big cities, they’ve hired a local marketing agency.
“Local marketers have a huge advantage: they know all the regional specifics, understand the way of thinking here. Hiring an agency allowed us to focus on our services, while specialists are dealing with the PR.”
Growing a taxi business meant expanding the customer base — and the fleet as well. Kaiian needed devoted drivers, ready to make not less than 200 trips per day.
Attracting new drivers was easy. Kaiian simply set better driver tariffs than the competitors had. The word of mouth followed immediately. The new drivers got a free trial period. Why?
“Giving a free trial doesn’t bring us money. But it brings us clients. Even if a driver will working, the clients stay with Kaiian. Free trial also allows us to deduce which driver plan is the best to offer to a certain driver.”
The TaxiStartup platform allows adapting fares to the market requirements. Driver plans can be adjusted anytime. Kaiian was able to make good use this feature: they’ve analyzed the Saudi-Arabian taxi market and invented two driver plans:
“A huge part of driver management happens automatically within the TaxiStartup solution: registration, billing, access management. This saves a lot of time to think of ways to improve drivers’ performance. We provide them with uniforms, motivate them to work more and better. Forcing never helps, making good offers does.”
Are there more heights for Kaiian to reach? It’s time to enter Mecca and Riyadh, huge and important cities of Saudi Arabia. Bader says:
“Marketing your taxi business in a big city is not necessarily about money. As taxi business is very social, it’s about right social moves. If you want to market in Dubai, you have to match the city which is multicultural and creative. Advertizing 1 crazy creative thing per month would totally work. This would distinguish a company. If your platform is good, your services reliable, you will always find a possibility to develop further.”
As you see, there’s a lot to learn from the Kaiian case. Here are some of the best practices:
We hope the example of Kaiian will inspire the boost of your taxi business😊
Breaking news: collaborating with other businesses is all hot! You’ve got all the data about what your clients like, right? Ever been wondering how to use this precious knowledge? Very simple: team up with the businesses your passengers love.
How does that work? Let us explain.
Imagine, 50% of your passengers are staying at a local hotel. At a certain point of their stay, they come to the reception desk and ask for a taxi. The reception person orders a taxi from your company. The price of a trip is included in the suite price. The hotel bills the guest, and you bill the hotel.
Imagine, you ally with 20 other businesses in your location. Imagine, it’s not only hotels, but also airports, restaurants, nightclubs, and basically any companies needing taxi transfer services every once in a while. Exciting, right?
But is there some tool to make this scheme possible? The answer is yes.
Hotel transfers, airport transfers, and all other types of partner transportation services are made really effortless within TaxiStartup platform. We’ve included “Partner dispatcher” (aka “remote dispatcher”) into the company panel. Let’s see how it works.
You have operators with full access. They are able to create, view and change orders for all available service types, as well as view and change orders of other operators. They can also view drivers on the map.
And you have operators with partner access. They are only enabled to create, view and change orders of the service types allowed for them personally. They won’t have an access to other operators orders, and they won’t be able to view the map.
Partner dispatcher access is an ideal solution for your business partners: hotels, restaurants, service stations and any other businesses eager to book your services for their clients, employees, or whoever.
In taxi business, “one-size-fits-all” solutions are seldom. Not all businesses will use your services under the same conditions. This is why we’ve thought of different options.
1. Partner access (paid by a passenger) . This one is for your partners who let their clients pay for a transfer taxi themselves. Only the service types with “Cash” and “Terminal” payment methods are allowed here. The money for a trip will be transferred to your account as soon as the trip is taken.
2. Partner access (billed on a partner). This is a perfect option for the partners who pay for their clients. Like if a nightclub books a taxi transfer for a guest and puts costs on an account. In this case, you bill the nightclub at the end of a month. For this access level, only the service types with “Third party systems via Dispatch API” payment method are allowed.
As you see, your collaboration with businesses that matter for your clients is made really-really easy.
First, you will have to find out what local businesses are a good match for the growth of your company. These can be:
(we can go on with this list for the next ten pages, but who wants to read it?).
Armed with serious numbers from Facebook Analytics, you can see which companies are the most popular among your customers.
At the next stage, you will need to set the terms of cooperation with these partners — and start using this revenue channel! The passengers will be able to travel carelessly, and you will enjoy the whole new income source!
Thought there will be no features after the 0.19 release? Well, that’s not how we do things at TaxiStartup.
While you were reading our email about the new release, we’ve developed a new driver search feature. It brings all the convenience together for your operators to be fully in control of how the taxi drivers do their work! Let us tell more details😏
Have a look at the map below. It shows you drivers according to the service type they belong to. You can see how many taxi drivers are online, and how many of them are busy or available. There are pins on the map in the locations where your taxi drivers are. Handy, right?
It is now possible to view the whole route of every order a taxi driver is completing. To see it, you click on the pin of a driver on the map. By doing that, you’ll get the pickup and dropoff pins shown on the map. Just like that:
In the right part of the map, driver’s profile information will appear. It includes the description of the route the driver is completing, driver’s personal info and a link to the order details. This is something we’ve introduced instead of the old driver’s chart you got to see next to the pin in the previous versions of the system.
Why is this interesting? Because in case you’re not sure why a taxi driver is in a particular area or why they’re not moving, you can check their order status. Or even follow it from the beginning to the end. Life’s becoming easier💪
Need to find a driver who’s on a ride? No problem! Above the drivers’ list, you can type in the search parameter to find taxi drivers. There are 4 types of parameters:
No matter how huge your fleet is, now you can find and follow every driver on the map, real time. If there are more than 100 search results suiting your inquiry, you’ll be asked to clarify the search parameters.
A bit of explanation of the pin types. Transparent pins stand for drivers offline (or, in case you’re searching, for the drivers not matching the search word). “Busy” drivers are marked on the map with a pin with a white dot inside. A taxi driver available for an order has a pin filled with colour.
See? The map is clearer than ever! And nope, we won’t stop delivering you new, hand features!😼
Hey! We’ve got some news for you! A long-awaited version 0.19 of TaxiStartup platform is coming with 19 awesome features. The new effective tools and improved experience for your business included.
This time you’ll get a modern design of driver apps together with real-time analytical reports and new payment gateway integrations. We hope these updates will make your workflow management more transparent and efficient.
We know: drivers use these applications as a work tool. We want the apps to be simple and easy to use. After analyzing the behavior of driver app users (which took a lot of time and efforts 😫), we’ve developed the design that helps your drivers feel more confident while riding! We also worked on a driver app visual component. The updated app can be customized to your brand colors to protect your brand identity and differentiate it from competitors.
Besides, we’ve upgraded the intelligent queues algorithm that distributes the driver jobs. Now it selects the driver in a more fair and logical way. This shortens the arrival time and improves the overall passenger’s user experience.
From now on you a have a real analytics tool right in your company panel. It allows you to track the number of orders per day, week and month in real time. You can also compare the results of the previous month with the current one and check the response time of a driver. These data allow you to take actions to improve the services and grow faster. All charts are on the same page, just scroll and examine your results per period of time.
Every service type has its own unique color. This visual representation gives you the full picture of your services work, at a glance. Track what service type is in demand and add more drivers to increase your revenue.
Starting with this update, your operator managers will have an opportunity to check any information by just typing an ID in their panel. This will help to deal with complaints from passengers or controversial fares in a quick way.
While testing the new Company Panel in Beta, we’ve fixed all the possible bugs and improved existing features. Now the panel runs flawlessly and has an intuitive look and feel that makes your management process even more workable (yet so simple!). All the old sections have been transferred and visually upgraded for your user experience to be great.
Are you interested in providing transfer services to hotels, restaurants and other local businesses? Or already doing this? We have the solution! Now, you can give access to your Dispatch operator panel to hotels and restaurants, but with “limited rights”. Set the terms of cooperation with these partners and start using the new profitable revenue channel. As a result, the restaurant and hotel guests won’t need to care about a ride as receptionists can take care of it.
We have one more good news for your dispatchers with a limited access level! This feature allows managers of bars or hotels to mark their place as favorite in the system as it’s shown in the picture. This speeds up the whole process of taxi calling and increases the number of your orders. You can edit or remove the point.
Since Version 0.19, there is no need to enter your credit card number manually to validate it in the app. Sure you can still use this method if you prefer it. But in this update, we’ve made possible simply taking a photo of a credit card! Our system will recognize the information on it and add to your app.🙌 A quick guide:
This feature works both for passenger and driver app and is pretty secure.
Good news for the companies in the United Arab Emirates and the European Union. We’ve extended the payment gateways in your countries. Now you can can do this via the Checkout payment gateway.
After having a great success with Stripe pre-authorization we implemented it for Braintree and Express Merchant. Pre-authorization works as an excellent anti-fraud tool that prevents you from losing significant amounts of money. Why is it so efficient? When a passenger calls a taxi, the app puts a hold on the total estimated amount for a trip until the ride is completed. When the drive is finished, the money is charged from a passenger’s card. Now you don’t need to care about unpaid trips and can rest easy.
For those who want to create their own names for service types, we added custom names on web desk. Now every new name you’ve created for your service type (here, for instance, ‘Family Type’) will be instantly displayed in the web app.
With this release, your passengers can specify the reason for cancelling the trip that will help you improve your service. You can take into account what reason is mentioned and then take act on it. Your passengers will be also notified about the amount of cancellation fee (see picture below). So, all their expenses are becoming clear and expected. This information is stored in their order history, and is available every time a passenger uses your app.
Our SMS service (also known as the best communication technique to increase customer engagement) has been improved in Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Qatar, Oman, UAE, and Russia. Note that for the SMS service you’re billed according to SMS gateway rates for your region. It’s time to start using the benefits of SMS notifications!
The dispatchers can see the real drop off pin in case a passenger changes their destination. This actual drop-off address will be written right below the drop-off defined by a passenger at the beginning of the trip. You’ll also see a real drop-off pin on the map. Why is it important for your business? Drop-off point allows you to get more info about the clients and their decisions. This feature also helps you resolve possible conflicts with drivers, and prevents them from deceiving you.
In the Release 0.19, the trip summary in dispatch panel includes the tips paid to a driver. This feature allows dispatchers to understand the origin of the final cost shown in their system. This was not possible before and often confused dispatchers. The tips amount is now displayed right near the final cost data and makes all the billing more explicit.
Thanks to this feature, your operators will be able to see the reason for the driver’s report and use this stats to analyse problem cases and improve your management system.
Our Russian-speaking clients were asking for Yandex map navigation. We made this possible within this release! Now your drivers can select this map from the list of possible ones and easily navigate around the city.
With this release, your operators can easily define the status of the driver. This is possible thanks to the different types of driver pins displayed on the map in dispatch panel. The fading pin stands for the drivers being offline. This status is applied to a driver when dispatch team doesn’t get their coordinates for 5 minutes or longer. “Busy” drivers will be marked on the map with a pin with a white dot inside. When a driver is available for a new order, their pin is filled with a colour. See, the picture of driver orders becomes even more comprehensive and clear!
One more function for personalizing your dispatch panel — customizable pin colour! To change the colour of service type pin, you enter the company panel, then select the service type you want to change and go to its settings. After that, you may choose the colour you prefer from an inbuilt palette. Rule your kingdom of cars the way you like! There is more:
This winter release brings new features aimed at saving your team’s time and making it easier to manage your business. Your drivers will enjoy using a new driver app, while the redesigned company panel will help you track both positive and negative changes in the work of the company. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in comments. We’re ready to help you.
Doing business is no piece of cake. To develop your company, you’ve got to have expertise in literally every strategic field 🙌.
We have partnered with a leading payment gateway provider in the region Payfort to be able to accept card payments in UAE. Payfort offers the latest payment solution – Payfort START only in UAE for now, and it gives merchants great tools to manage transactions. Combined with our platform and apps it the perfect solution to make your business cashless, increase revenue x10 – since you will get 100% of all payments, and automate driver payouts. Inspiring new world!
You can now set your dropoff location on the map in passenger app. A highly requested feature that we have long been debating on. Multiple user experience studies showed us that our customers were right and that users actually don’t always know the exact address of where they are going. But they can point it on the map! They might also just remember the street, so they would want to search it and then be able to adjust the location on the map. Going through all those use cases we have developed a simple, intuitive and powerful design, blending in the current UI. You probably won’t even notice anything has changed until you want to use the feature.
The app updates will be rolled out in the coming days. Hope you enjoy it.
This month at TaxiStartup: card payment pre-authorization, connect via Intercom, “Girls drive Girls” and more.
No more frauds! If you are using Stripe for card payments we have a good news. A trip total estimated amount is now pre-authorized before your client takes a ride. At the end of a ride, the actual total is charged against a card. No more hide and seek with debtors!
At the moment, pre-authrization works only with Stripe and is set by default for all customers. It will be available for other payment gateways in the coming updates.
Passengers are now able to tip a driver right from the app. And a tip level can be set be applied by default, should a passenger wish so. The tip amount is distributed between company and driver in a same way a trip total is. So it’s simple and fare for everyone.
You can now effectively connect with us via Intercom – available via our website and the new Company Panel (available to the public in few days). You should expect your issues to be addressed faster and knowledge base articles available at a hand. We have actually switched to a new support engine to provide you a better experience when learning new things about the system.
It’s a pity that many countries still have issues with sexual harassment from male drivers. To address this problem and provide a safe way to travel for ladies some companies hire female drivers. Well, now we have a dedicated service type for that!
You can now see pickup estimation on the map as soon as you set a pickup location. In case you are still doing phone jobs that will allow your operators to tell the ETA right away. Though I would recommend moving to fully automated dispatch..
Your operators gonna love this feature that you can start using right now. Easily change pickup or drop off locations; reassign a driver; add notes or edit passenger details. This feature will fundamentally change how you manage orders in the dispatch panel.
In our newest dispatch panel, we’ve added a simple way for operators to edit order information on-the-go:
While order editing has endless possibilities, the number of editable tabs will depend on the order source.
For example, if the order was created from a dispatch panel an operator is authorised to:
Mind that an operator who creates the order is the only person allowed to edit the above fields. If an operator assigns the order created by another operator to him, he is able to edit the driver details only.
If the order was created from a booking app or a web desk an operator is authorised to:
Mind that passenger details of such order cannot be changed.
If the order was created from a booking app outside your company an operator is authorised to:
Excited to try out this feature? Go ahead and start using order editing in your dispatch panel now.
Tirhal is the Sudanese version of Uber. In less than a year the company can position itself as a market leader with over 2,000 cabs to date. With sanctions preventing Uber from operating in Sudan, there was an opportunity for a local transportation service. Mohamed and his partners found the ideal solution in the TaxiStartup software.
Tirhal from Arabic stands for ‘trip’. The company was established by two friends with no taxi driving experience but with an ambitious aim to lead the transportation market in Sudan by harnessing the potential of the latest mobile technologies and AI (artificial intelligence).
Tirhal owners visiting TaxiStartup office
‘Taxis are a convenient way of getting around Khartoum and fares are inexpensive. But usual taxis taking a passenger from point A to point B are not metered. So you and the driver should agree on the fare before your ride begins, which causes inconvenience, ’- said Mohamed Elzakey, deputy general manager at Tirhal.
With that said, car service apps with price estimation and a possibility to follow the progress of a ride as the driver approaches were the key factors to choosing the TaxiStartup platform. Stressing clear driver management and affordable fares.
‘Passenger apps offer ‘open trips’ that is second to none, especially when there is an issue with Google maps. Now our passengers can book a cab and make stops during the trip at any place.’
In the early marketing days, to find the ‘silver bullet’ of the fares, the company run some trials. They included tests over the most popular routes in the city centre. Average prices and time were compared to competitors estimates and public transport tickets for the same trip.
Tirhal began driver recruitment focusing on the competitors’ weak-side arm. The company wanted their drivers to earn more money driving with Tirhal.
‘We spent a lot of time defining our own strategy so that we could show drivers just how successful driving with Tirhal could be. First, we defined that flat rate doesn’t work for us and switched to order percentage.
According to our ‘driver leaderboard’, the max number of completed trips per one driver is 254, which equals to 1,000 USD (with an average monthly wage of 150 USD),’ explains Mohamed.
Seven months after the soft launch the company’s fleet has grown significantly counting 1700 active cabs with 20 new drivers submitting applications on a daily basis.
Despite this, Mohamed is pragmatic about working within thousands of drivers. ‘The main issue we have here in Khartoum is training the drivers to a level that we’re happy with the quality of the services provided to our passengers.’
As we know, taxi drivers belong to a group that doesn’t spend that much time on social media, and, evidently, online marketing campaigns to attract drivers wouldn’t be the best option here. Word-of-mouth continues to be the most trusted source for growing drivers.
To eliminate idle drivers and motivate new ones, so they take the job seriously, Tirhal has introduced a registration fee. The company charges an application fee of $5 which every driver can earn back quickly as soon as he starts driving with Tirhal.
In the beginning, drivers have a vague idea about the efficient working algorithm within the driver app. So the key point here is to educate drivers to use the application properly.
‘We found out that a little training beforehand also contributes to the higher income for taxi drivers, compared to the guides how to sign up to drive with Tirhal. That’s why we have established an educational center working 4 days a week.’
Every week a Tirhal representative guides 80 – 160 newcomers how to handle instant and future bookings, replenish the balance or send money to a fellow-driver using the app.
Tirhal uses the cancellation fee feature of the TaxiStartup platform to track and minimize order cancellations by drivers. They found out that after imposing the fee drivers began to call an operator rather than press a ‘Cancel’ button.
‘We focus on control over how drivers use the app to eliminate money losses due to cancelled orders.’
In all businesses, scaling is do or die. Tirhal’s plans are to expand to other countries while simultaneously expanding service types. Women taxi, vans, high lux cars, and tow truck topping their list.
Every two months the company reveals a new service type offering women with kids, businessmen and travellers to make instant or planned trips safe and easy.
Muhamed is confident that TaaS (transportation as a service) is only a starting point. Looking ahead, Tirhal plans to scale up the idea providing any on-demand service in future.
P.S. Eager to share your story with the TaxiStartup society? Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
Once we have introduced а payment gateway for Latin America, we realised the boost in credit cards payments via passenger apps and an increased demand for custom-tailored solutions in particular countries from company owners.
TaxiStartup not only integrates third party solutions, it customises them to make it fast and easy for passengers and drivers to make a payment, without filling in extra tabs for security reasons and overloading user interface.
Rates of fraud vary across countries but in Latin American countries like Mexico the problem is much more prolific.
The report from Aite Group and ACI Worldwide, which surveyed over 5,000 consumers in 17 countries, notes that Mexico has the highest rates with 37% of respondents experiencing credit card fraud. For example, in the Netherlands, only 8% of consumers reported the same.
When it comes to debit card fraud, Mexico comes in the first place with 25% of consumers there reporting fraud in the last five years. That’s ahead of 24% in China, 21% in India, and 20% in the U.S.
That being said, the time has come to give even more payment solutions for Latin America.
In collaboration with the MercadoPago team, TaxiStartup has made cashless payments via the booking app fast, easy and smooth.
MercadoPago is the leading online payment solution in Latin America, with 126.7 million registered users on its platform. It was launched in 2004 and has operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela. The headquarters is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Currently, companies from México, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay can offer their clients to pay for the ride with a smartphone using MercadoPago merchant.
Alternatively, or if the above payment gateway doesn’t work for you, you can оffer passengers to use their smartphones to pay for taxis via PayU payment gateway.
If none of these services available in your country, it is still possible to receive credit/debit cards payments from your passengers and drivers via Express Merchant Account by TaxiStartup.
Have a question? Just leave a comment below. If you want to activate MercadoPago payment gateway please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, our tech team will help you with the setup and configuration.