Hailo Nabs $17 million for Cabbie-Passenger Matchmaking

By Erin Griffith , written on March 29, 2012

From The News Desk

Uber's investor list is a who's who of Valley investors. Seriously. Look at this thing.

One firm absent? Accel Parters. Turns out they've been working on their own car service play, and they're going big.

In a joint deal between its European and American funds, Accel has provided a $17 million Series A for Hailo, a maker of a London-based app that helps cab drivers and passengers find each other.

Launched five months ago, the service has acquired 3200 drivers and 200,000 passengers in London, founder and CEO Jay Bregman told me. The app makes money by taking a small cut of a Hailo-enabled cab ride. Already Hailo is posting an eight figure revenue run rate.

Hailo is working to quickly expand into the States, starting with New York, then Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC., and Toronto and Montreal in Canada. The company is also building out its driver network in Dublin.

Hailo's plan for each city it enters is to get cab drivers on board with the app first. A surprisingly large number of them have smartphones, and Hailo provides them with a cradle to ward off distracted driving. The driver UX has lots of social elements -- drivers alert each other of jackpots like long lines of passengers waiting for taxis in a certain airport terminal...or the inverse: backed up queues of taxis waiting for passengers to trickle out of Penn Station. The company doesn't have hard data on whether it's making significantly more money for drivers, but Bregman said anecdotally, they're telling Hailo the app changes the way they approach their jobs.

The way it is now, drivers lose a lot of potential inventory because they're inefficiently wandering around a city in hopes of snagging a rider. That, or the age-old street corner land grab over the only available cab. It's a crapshoot that involves cunning and luck.

So, in two taps, I can get order a pickup from the nearest available cab driver on the Hailo network. If I wasn't trying to cut down on the number of cabs I take, I'd be heel clicking in glee over this thing.

Hailo is different from Uber because it's focused on private cars, not "light" taxis or the ones that have available/taken lights on top. Uber serves the top niche of passengers, Bregman said.

Uber has already raised its monster rounds of funding -- it's got $44 million in VC money. Hailo's seed round happened last year; it raised $3 million from Wellington Partners and Atomico.

Now Hailo is at least in the same league, money-wise. The company's $17 million Series A will go toward entering a number of cities simultaneously. Hailo could launch in New York within the month, Bregman said, if the city wasn't so loaded with regulatory hoops to jump through.

Image via Cuny.