GetTaxi Raises Capital in Race to New York Launch

By Erin Griffith , written on June 6, 2012

From The News Desk

It's a crowded market out there for taxi disrupters. There's Hailo. There's Uber. There's Taxi Magic, TaxiPal, TaxiSelect... They're solving the taxi problem. A giant market. Ripe for disruption. We get it.

GetTaxi is one with a slightly more ambitious twist on Uber or Hailo's model. Not long after Hailo scored its big, flashy round of venture capital to expand to New York, GetTaxi has raised its own to do the same. The company just secured $20 million in follow-on funding from Access Industries. Israel-based GetTaxi had previously raised $11 million.

Even in a crowded, capital-intensive space, GetTaxi founder Shahar Waiser likely had no problem raising money. He's got a pile of successes to his name, having founded five other companies including Loyalize, the social TV company which sold to FunctionX, and, the Russian Groupon.

GetTaxi's mode goes beyond matching drivers to riders. You could argue that Hailo and Uber are being realistic -- the taxi industry is entrenched and will take some time to truly revolutionize (especially in New York).

But GetTaxi is all-in: The company handles the entire transaction, from the taxi request to the mobile payment. That requires deeper integration with drivers on the enterprise side, including individual hardware that the drivers connect to their windshield. And it requires messing with a taxi driver's money. GetTaxi is the only company that services both consumers and enterprises, Waiser says. And this might be a blessing and a curse.

New York is the holy grail for taxi apps. It's also the messiest, most entrenched regulatory hoop-filled market. Around 60 percent of New York adults use a taxi at least once a month. Waiser says that user adoption isn't the hard part: "What I like about mobile is that it's a truly democratic place," he says. "When you have a product and amazing, remarkable service, eventually people will use the best one. That's the only way we win."

Thus far, GetTaxi seems to be winning. Rides had totaled 200,000 by March; they've grown by 100 percent every month, Waiser says. The company has rapidly expanded its presence in Europe to London, Moscow and a number of Israeli cities for a total of 17 locations.

The hard part is driver adoption, especially difficult in New York. Hailo has tested its stateside app first in Chicago, aiming to enter New York in the coming months. Founder and CEO Jay Bregman told us in March that Hailo could launch in New York within a month, if the city wasn’t so loaded with regulatory red tape.

Waiser echoes that sentiment: "I want to launch it tomorrow," he says, "but you have to prepare everything right before the launch, because you have to deliver." GetTaxi will launch commercial operations in New York in a few months, he says.

Waiser says he may work with the New York taxi dispatch as he did in Moscow. "We're not competing with them," he says. "Taxis get more income by getting more jobs."