Kaiian: “Starting a taxi business is a social move”

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 scale of Kaiian company

The CEO of Kaiian tells us about growing a taxi business and marketing it rightly.

Start developing own taxi business idea

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.

Customize a white-label product to your needs

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:

  • user-friendly apps for both passengers and drivers;
  • easily operated dispatch panel;
  • highly automated drivers management.
  • Another essential demand was using Kaiian’s own design: logo, color scheme, the whole branding.

    Kaiian branded mobile apps

    Bader tells:

    “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.

    Develop a sustainable growth strategy

    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:

    • avoid direct competition with Uber and Careem;
    • make own business well-known and popular.

    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.

    Small towns market penetration strategy

    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.

    Kaiian market growth

    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.”

    Market your services well

    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.

    Marketing tips from Kaiian

    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.

    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.”

    Expand the fleet

    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.”

    Kaiian expands the fleet

    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:

    • commission per order (for drivers who take a few orders a month);
    • monthly charge plan (drive more, earn more, “Turns out to be a very addictive plan!” — laughs Bader)

    “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.”

    Never stop developing further

    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:

    • Relying on well-functioning white-label software;
    • Knowing your competitors and how to outperform them;
    • Using word-of-mouth marketing to insure initial turnover;
    • Using customer development model;
    • Hiring a marketing agency in order to develop further.

    We hope the example of Kaiian will inspire the boost of your taxi business😊

    Partner with hotels, airports, restaurants

    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.

    transfer taxi

    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.

    Taxi on a room: hotels will love it

    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.

    Venue can’t bill clients? We got you covered!

    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:

    • Restaurants,
    • Bars,
    • Hotels,
    • Nightclubs,
    • Airports,
    • Bus and train stations,
    • Harbors,
    • Concert halls,
    • Hospitals…

    (we can go on with this list for the next ten pages, but who wants to read it?).

    Business partners for taxi business

    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!

    New driver search features. The ones you’ve been waiting for

    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😏

    Check the number of drivers per each service type

    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?

    Driver filtering

    Click on the pin to see the route

    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:

    Driver route on the map

    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💪

    Refined driver search for real-time orders

    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:

    • Name;
    • Phone number;
    • Email;
    • Board number.

    The relevant driver on the map

    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!😼

    Driver app with an improved UI – Meet 0.19 Release

    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.

    New Release 0.19

    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.

    New, modern design for your driver apps

    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! new driver app screens 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. Driver App Customized

    Driver sequence algorithm updated

    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.

    Get data, charts, analyze and act!

    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. Analytics in company panel 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.

    All your service types in the dispatch, perfectly filtered

    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. Filter drivers by service type

    Look for an order by typing an ID

    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. Order ID

    Company panel comes out of Beta

    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!). Updated Company Panel All the old sections have been transferred and visually upgraded for your user experience to be great.

    New tool for hotels and restaurants

    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. Hotel service

    Start using our ‘favorite pickup point’ feature

    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. Favorite pickup point You can edit or remove the point.

    Validate your credit card by taking its photo

    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.🙌 Card validation via camera A quick guide:

    • On the screen with the form for your credit card number, click on the orange icon to the right.
    • Hold your credit card in front of your device camera. Place the card so that it fits the frame on your screen.
    • The card data is being scanned automatically, no need to press anything…
    • Voila. Your credit card number is in the form. Your time is saved!

    This feature works both for passenger and driver app and is pretty secure.

    Integration with Checkout

    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. TaxiStartup Checkout integration

    Payment pre-authorization with Braintree

    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.

    Custom names for your service types on web desk

    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. Web App - smaller

    Cancellation reason and fee added in passenger’s 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. Cancellation reason added 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. Cancellation fee

    SMS notifications available in more countries

    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! SMS notification

    Real drop-off pin in dispatch panel

    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? Real drop off pin 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.

    Driver tips in the trip summary

    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. Trip summary with tips

    Driver reports at your disposal

    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.

    Yandex map navigation in your driver app

    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. Yandex map navigation

    Pins on the map showing driver status

    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. New Pins “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!

    Pins customization

    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! Pins customization in company panel There is more:

    • Fixed crash of the Driver app on uploading large photos
    • Drivers under a certain service type have a predefined minimum number of seats in company panel
    • Driver app doesn’t go into sleep mode if the driver is on shift (fixed for iOS)
    • Added display order id functionality in dispatch panel
    • Added separate display of regular and per-hour tariffs for Partner operators
    • Support of iOS 11 locations permission
    • No internet connection notification for Android apps
    • Added functionality to notify a passenger if there are no drivers available in the pick-up area
    • …and a number of other minor fixes and improvements.

    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.

    Taxi marketing ideas: beginner’s guide

    taxi marketing tips

    Doing business is no piece of cake. To develop your company, you’ve got to have expertise in literally every strategic field 🙌.


    Release 0.18.1 brings payment pre-authorization and more

    This month at TaxiStartup: card payment pre-authorization, connect via Intercom, “Girls drive Girls” and more.

    Payment pre-authorization example

    Payment pre-authorization with Stripe

    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.

    Tips. Yes, finally!

    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.


    Connect with us via Intercom

    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.


    Girls drive girls

    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!


    Pickup estimation on the map

    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..

    There is more…

    • Removed “powered by TaxiStartup” sign for custom domain names in Dispatch Panel
    • Improved payment user experience in passenger app when Cash/Terminal payment methods are available
    • Fixed Webdesk behavior when only pre-bookings are available
    • Improved Webdesk experience for mobile devices
    • Decreased zoom on map in Passenger app to show drivers around
    • Fixed ETA for pre-bookings in Dispatch Panel
    • Limited a number of passengers in dispatch to an available for a selected service type
    • Added address suggestions for other countries while prioritizing your location in Dispatch Panel
    • Other minor fixes and improvements…

    Sudan’s Very Own Uber – Tirhal Taxi Success Story

    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 Success Story

    About the company

    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
    Tirhal owners visiting TaxiStartup office

    Entering the transportation business

    ‘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.

    TaxiStartup + MercadoPago = Cashless payments via the booking app

    ‘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.

    Attracting new drivers

    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.’

    Rolling out driver registration fees

    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.

    From a registration fee to an educational center

    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.

    TaxiStartup + MercadoPago = Cashless payments via the booking app

    Cancellation fees

    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 natalia@taxistartup.org

    TaxiStartup’s Biggest Update Yet

    Good news! A shiny new version of TaxiStartup platform is emerging from the long winter hibernation!


    We’ve been hard at work since our tracking algorithm update, just in time to gift you an even better experience on iOS and Android booking apps for the upcoming high season.

    However, this release is different. Why? Well because you will notice many visual updates when you log in into your company panel, driver and even passenger apps.

    There are some powerful, new updates that will be game-changers for the smart marketers who take advantage of them.

    Map with real-time drivers on the first screen

    We’re also spreading the cheer for passenger users with seeing drivers on the map.

    Passenger apps display an actual map with drivers in your area moving around in real-time. That should make it a bit easier to decide whether taking a cab is the best option for getting where you need.

    Here’s a comparison of the old and new designs:

    Driver search visualisation

    Unlike Uber app that shows you a horde of available cars but when it comes to ordering it quotes you a long wait time for a ride, the TaxiStartup app’s map activity correlates well with reality.We have visualised the search distribution between drivers on the map.

    How it works

    On confirming the booking, the app shows the passenger a map with available cars in the given radius. The passenger can see the order requests sent by the application to each driver and its status: green – pending request, yellow – bidding. More info about job distribution logic can be found in our knowledge base.

    Cross driver credit transfer

    One of the top requests we get is for transferring money between drivers on mobile. So, dear partners, your wish is now granted! Your drivers can send credits from their account to their friend’s straight from the driver app.

    As we know, many drivers have their own clients preferring to call them directly to get a cab. It may happen that the driver can not accept the job because he is on another ride or the client’s pick up location is too far from the driver’s.

    Now with the credit transfer feature, a driver can send the job he can not take to his fellow driver and get a commission for that!

    The drivers are able to send credits from their account to their friend’s right in the driver application with just a button click. All they need is enter the recipient’s plate or mobile phone number, specify the amount and tap ‘Send’.
    The drivers can see all transactions as well as the amount of sent credit in the transactions history in the app.

    The benefit is evident: drivers receive more orders, the company owner attracts more drivers. As simple as that!
    Important: this feature is optional and can be turned on in the Company panel > Driver Settings.

    Even smaller driver operation area

    Adjustable driver’s working radius allows drivers to set up a working area the driver is willing to get jobs from right from the driver app. In the latest version, the minimum value has been reduced from 0.5km to 0.1km.

    This can be a great solution for clients operating on small islands like Bali or Maldives with the territory radius of e.g. 500m – 5 km.

    min working radius

    Trips history

    Both passenger and driver apps are now featuring a full tips history with an easy navigation interface and trip details.


    Payments report

    Reduce manual work and save time by analysing drivers top-ups and passengers payments made within a given period of time. The Company panel now has a new ‘Payments report’, where all driver’s top-ups and passenger’s payments for orders are listed. The greatest part about the payment analysis applied in this report is that the data is sorted by payment mode (cash/card), payer type, etc.

    To download the report, navigate to Company panel > Reports > Payments report.


    Localisation in Web Desk

    We’ve also added some nice touches to the web desk. If you’re using a web desk solution to handle your online booking 24/7 you will be pleased to know that your online booking tool can be localised in any language. Now English is used as a default language.

    Updated design in Dispatch Panel


    In our newest dispatch panel, we’ve added a simple way for operators to find a particular driver by name or board number. More importantly, now the operator can see the trip estimation and set a special cost.

    What else is coming in v.0.17

    HyperPay payment gateway integration

    Offer passengers to use their smartphones & credit/debit cards to pay for taxis via Hyper Pay payment gateway. Available for clients in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon.

    TaxiStartup extends the list of countries to support PayU

    Earlier we provided this possibility to passengers in Latin America, today we have extended the list of countries to Turkey, Hungary, Romania and Russia. Read more here.

    10 new languages

    The dispatch, company panel and apps speak 10 new languages. Your clients can now book a cab in French, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Malay, Danish, Polish, Czech, Portuguese, and Arabic.

    Drop off location in the trip summary emails

    Open and view a route map from the trip summary email sent right at the end of the trip. The route is shown in full even when the drop off location was not specified while ordering the trip via a passenger app.

    Integration with wasl

    TaxiStartup has integrated with wasl – the government system in Saudi Arabia, becoming one of the first taxi platforms to help security authorities identify taxi drivers and get information on their trips.


    At this time of year, it’s especially important that you and your passengers can stay connected. This new release opens a wide range of new possibilities and I hope you’ll be able to get a tonne of value from it.

    If you want to chat about these new features and how they can help you, just leave a comment below.

    7 Must-Have Features for an App Like Uber

    7 Must-Have Features for an App Like Uber

    Every day our support and sales agents hear from our clients that they would like to build an app like Uber. This idea is widespread. Uber is indeed a huge success and it has really changed the whole concept of taxi and ground transportation.

    Once an idea is in place, a nightmare arrives:

    1. 1. How much will it cost to build an app like Uber?
    2. 2. What features should an app possess?
    3. 3. How long does it take to build a mobile app?

    Many companies are making apps like Uber but what matters is who serves the best blend as far as quality, price, and on time delivery is concerned.

    Before you even start app development estimations, please remember – there are actually two mobile apps, not one! Without the driver app, passengers won’t have anybody to drive them around. It requires two platforms (iOS/Android) and one admin panel. The server also needs to be bought.

    Spoiler: simple mobile app may cost you as low as $6K, feature rich app between $25K to $50K and an enterprise app may cost you above $50K.

    But is the cost the only thing that matters – nothing else?

    The real story: Not so long ago a company X applied for branded apps but later decided to develop the apps from scratch partnering with an outsource company Y. They have invested more than $60K and 9 months in apps development. The apps went live in April 2016, since that time not a single update was ever released. App installs: less than 500. If only they could get a ready-made solution and invest that money in user acquisition!

    Now let me go deeper in the above questions.

    1. How much will it cost to make an app like Uber?

    Well, when you ask the cost of anything, it depends on many factors which decide the exact cost of a particular app. Features, design, functionality, a platform for your apps etc., everything affects the cost.

    how much does it cost to build an app like Uber

    Firstly, I want to list down the cost to build an app like Uber from some well-known app development companies.

    • • Prismetric: $5,000 to $25,000
    • • Hyperlink Infosystem: $10,000 to $30,000
    • • Dom & Tom: $25,000 to $150,000
    • • Y Media Labs: $50,000 to $250,000
    • • WillowTree- $100,000 to $300,000

    Keep in mind, that these are just agencies prices, freelance developers can charge you much less. Same applies for Silicon Valley developers who will probably charge you twice that.

    Now you may ask why is there such a HUGE gap between the lowest and the highest cost?

    So, here I put down the features which are to be considered while counting the cost of an app like Uber.

    2. What features should a booking app possess?

    Here are the key functionalities that need to be developed, to have an application like Uber. If you add more features, your app will cost you more of course.

    Maps and Location

    The technology of GPS tracking is used to identify the current location, find cars & track the way. Besides, the perfect journey tracking gives the actual estimation.

    In-app Payments

    Having an app without a payment gateway solution fully compliant and working fine is the same thing as having a Tesla car without a battery. Inbuilt payments allow a user to pay for the ride right from the app. The current technology also enables transferring money between drivers on mobile.

    If you want to process credit card payments directly from your clients, you need to use a payment service such as Stripe, Braintree, PayU or Hyper Pay that partially does the job for you. Integration of such payment options involves technical complexity that consumes numerous hours and resources which can lead to an increase in app cost.

    Built-in module to collect fees from drivers

    Paying the driver in cashless instalments using the driver’s credit cards is a must. The system should allow you to make your own rules: set up how, when, and how much fees you want to get from your drivers. Create multiple subscription plans, select a billing cycle and forget about manual paperwork. The system handles payments automatically.

    The driver has the access to the current balance, subscription details, top-up features and a list of transactions.

    Smart analytics system

    Doing your business with no analytical data is like driving a car with your eyes closed. Get numbers, analyse them every month or day, and improve your business accordingly.

    Having the information about every bit of your business in well-presented reports will help you see where your business needs some improvements and where it is doing good. Track number of orders, booking sources, assigned vs missed orders (yes, you need to track that).

    Extended Analytics
    Analytics in TaxiStartup company panel

    Make decisions ONLY based on real numbers!

    The integration of those “invisible features” can take 10-20% additional budget.


    The basic requirement of authorization has various reasons. First, for online payment, it is a necessary. Also, details like, driver name contact number, profile pic, license details can be added.


    It makes the choice to ratings & reviews more personalised. After all, a driver and a customer also can share and see their contact details to have a smooth communication between them.


    When you build the first app, push notifications and in-app messages are a must to inform passengers and drivers about news and campaigns that you may have for them.

    push message
    Push-notification sent from TaxiStartup company panel

    Dispatch and Tracking Panel

    Web-based panel with google maps to take phone bookings, manage taxi, drivers and assign trips. It also allows company owners to track drivers with their status, track orders created from passenger apps and web desk.

    API – required to communicate between apps and pass messages to and from the ‘call centre’.

    Here are some OTHER features that need to be developed, to build an application like Uber:

    You see there are lots of features needs to be taken care of before project cost estimation.


    Never go for a team, which cannot offer maintenance of your app – even if you do not plan new features, new iOS versions (and new iPhones) are released, so you need to constantly improve your app. From our experience, this usually means at least one half-time developer working on the app.

    3. How long does it take to build a mobile app?

    Based on the above the whole process will take you: 4–15 months.

    This would, however, involve a lot of management effort on the owner side and coordinating the developers on your own.

    Have a look at breakdowns of the costs and time investments to create apps having similar functionalities with few of the world’s hottest mobile applications.

    How long does it take to build an app like Uber
    Research conducted by GoogFirms


    If you plan to use an experienced agency that will deliver a working, bug-free product for you, have at least 50 000 USD in your pocket!

    Keep in mind, you still need to maintain the app, apply changes related to new interfaces, SDKs, handle client requests etc – so the development total after a couple years will be certainly much bigger than that.

    10 Strategies to Get More Customers

    Below, you’re going to see tips to help you grow, engage and retain customers and profits in 2017, and beyond. Give these 10 strategies a try.

    10 Strategies for Growing Your Customer Base

    Get Customers

    You’ve opened your own taxi company and made a mobile app. Congratulations! There’s more to creating an app. Your next step can be: getting customers and growing your audience.

    1. Online Promotion

    Popular social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram are now giving you the ability to create communities, which is an added bonus since your customers are probably already on these social media channels.

    Create business pages to boost your company’s awareness and get customers. Make sure that there is someone responsible for constant updates of relevant, informative and entertaining content. The page should display some appeals to your new customers, promo codes, viral videos, contests, etc.

    So, make sure you have a web page with your phone and a possibility to order online since we hate roaming prices! A lot of our customers have been begging for an online booking tool and we are pleased to offer that possibility via web desk. Web desk solution – is a website page where to order a taxi simply click a button. Place it on the web-site, and it will handle your online booking 24/7.

    Get Customers via web form

    2. PR & Media

    Make your company recognisable, reaching even wider range of audience and eventually converting them to your clients. The key is PR in local media. Share your story through local publications.
    The media often publishes for free, as they are constantly looking for local news, especially if you have a good reason for it.

    3. Targeted Advertising

    Advertising is the most effective way in online promotion. Start ad campaigns in the channels where your audience hang out.

    Google AdWords and PPC [pay-per-click] can give you crazy amounts of traffic if you are tight with your campaign and run niche ad groups.

    But working with Adwords requires experience and deep knowledge of the details and can be expensive.

    Firstly, you need to create an Instagram account or connect your existing Instagram account with your Facebook page, which will allow you to make your advertisements for Instagram in Facebook Power Editor. You can set a small budget (less than $10 per day) and target audience, locations and placement.

    Even if people don’t immediately download your booking app because of the Facebook/Instagram ads, many of them wind up ‘liking’ your business, which creates a database of potential customers.

    The good news is that Facebook SDK is already integrated into your Android and iOS apps, which provides powerful marketing and analytics tools. Based on the client’s actions in the taxi app, you can track, for instance, app installs and app launches.

    Facebook SDK

    4. Exclusives

    Some hotels, restaurants, bars and other public places in your city set up “exclusives” with particular operators to guarantee they will have transportation quickly when they need it. This means they will always order your fleet.

    1-click Taxi Butler might be a great solution to get a constant flow of orders.

    Get Customers via taxi button

    5. Recruit Drivers

    Taxi drivers are probably more social than we are. They meet so many new clients each day and they have so much time to talk about a new ride-sharing company they are working for and the new app they are using. Typically we tend to stick with one taxi service if we like it, so your goal is to hook up your customers. Give them a reason to download your app and come back. Discounts work every time.

    Drivers like to hang out with each other after a shift. It’s like a close society and it is a feeling of belonging to a small closed group, so they stick and listen to each other. Now that’s the time you come in with your brand new driver app. Talk to 100 drivers, sign them up and let them test the app, they will bring you 1000 new drivers in a few weeks.

    How to Engage Customers

    As a business owner, you’re already aware that your customers are the lifeblood of your business. And that’s why it’s important that you engage with them.

    6. Offer Customers Real Value

    Who doesn’t enjoy getting free stuff? We all do. Take advantage of that and offer promo coupons. Not only will you grab their attention, you’ll also engage clients by rewarding them for choosing your taxi service.

    Get Customers via Promo Flyer Get Customers via Promo Flyer

    Consider making up flyers with promo codes and distribute them in public places. It will work effectively in places such as local bars, restaurants, colleges, cinemas, exhibitions, sport and art events. If you provide a high-class service, the value of the coupons can be higher and spread among top restaurants, luxury stores, business centres, etc.

    Publish posts with promo codes on all of your social media accounts. Social proof is very important in our digitally connected world. TaxiStartup system gives customers an opportunity to share the promo code via viral sharing that exists within the passenger’s app.

    7. Fleet Branding

    Because your wrapped vehicles will be on the road and visible to thousands of people every day, your brand will become more recognisable, and therefore accessible.

    Get Customers via fleet branding

    Your fleet is one of your most visible and important marketing tools providing you with large-scale advertising space at no cost. A branded vehicle can receive tens of thousands of impressions per day. Whether the vehicle is moving along the highway, parked in front of a business or entertainment centre, it gets noticed.

    • A wrapped vehicle that travelled in or around a major city generated more than 65,000 visual impressions per day;
    • 98% of consumers feel that fleet graphics created a positive image for the company;
    • 96% said fleet graphics had more impact than other forms of outdoor media (billboards, for example).

    Think about this powerful statistics when you consider the cost of other promotional activities.

    8. Follow-up With a Person

    One of the aspects of the app that differs from traditional cab driving is the use of ratings. Real-time feedback about drivers means you can correct all kinds of issues big and small – while ensuring that only the best drivers stay on the road.

    Get Customers via ratings

    Take this feedback seriously. If customer engagement really matters to you, make the investment to follow up with a genuine person, whether you’re writing an email, communicating on social media, or calling on the phone.

    Retain Your Customers

    9. Tune Referral Campaign

    Referral programs are an excellent hack for boosting app installs. It’s a powerful marketing channel because people trust the opinions of other people in their lives. Moreover, people love bargains and they will definitely share the promo codes within the system.

    Get Customers via referral program

    Referral programs is a fully automated marketing engine that is more cost-effective than advertising or any regular marketing tool. The new user acquisition is done through reference – referral holders invite their friends, who can invite friends too.

    The campaign is launched with initial coupons, that have to be given to the initial group of people who will start spreading the app.

    Find the extended step by step guide how to set up a referral campaign or read referral program use case.

    10. Add Credit Card Payment

    In today’s fast-moving world customers like being able to complete transactions quickly and easily without having to run to the ATM for cash or write a check, both of which are limited to their available funds.

    Passengers said that paying with credit cards has become second nature. With cards, it’s easy to track the receipts in the most convenient way – by e-mail. This saves paper and keeps your accountants happy, too.