Zypsee, an Uber competitor in NYC, raises $1.4 million from ff Venture Capital

By Erin Griffith , written on August 13, 2013

From The News Desk

New York-based black car service Zypsee has raised $1.4 million led by ff Venture Capital, according to an SEC filing. The company has launched in New York amid a wave of car service competition from Uber, Hailo and GetTaxi, which have raised $22 million, $50.6 million, and $57.1 million, respectively. (Uber is raising a round which is rumored to value the company at $3.5 billion.)

Zypsee's round, which includes investment Correlation Ventures and strategic investors from the travel industry, has room to go up to $2 million in funding. The company was founded in 2011 by Ram Trichur, and Michael Ibrahim, former McKinsey & Company consultants, Vivek Chandran, also a former software consultant.

ff Venture Capital partner David Teten is listed as a member of the company's board of directors.

Zypsee uses existing licensed black livery cars. The company's site is a little outdated, stating that Zypsee doesn't use yellow taxis because it's not legal to pre-arrange rides. However, that law was changed in December 2012 and became official in June. Zypsee says on its site that it has "worked harder than any other company" to make sure it's services are legal. Update: Zypsee CEO Michael Ibrahim says his company will avoid yellow cab e-hailing because it is ineffective, citing a 17 percent industry success rate.

Zypsee will differentiate from Uber, GetTaxi and Hailor because it is the only one built in New York, Ibrahim says "NYC is the epicenter of hired vehicle space for the world," he says. "We are the only New York-based startup doing that. Pretty much everyone else is tourist to New York." (Hailo was founded in London, GetTaxi in Israel, and Uber in San Francisco,  before entering the New York market.) Zypsee will remain exclusively in New York for the next eight to 12 months.

The company says its rates are within 10 to 20 percent of the normal yellow cab cost, though it has a minimum fare of $8, a "zone-crossing charge" of $2.90, and a bridge and tunnel fee of $10.50 plus return tolls. Unlike Uber, tips are not included.

Zypsee has both an Android and iOS app.

Update: Teten of ff VC wrote with the following statement: "Zypsee's founding team has an unusual combination of strategic thinking, deep technical skills, and a long history of working together.  While some other competitors are playing checkers, we think they're playing chess.  That's why we think Zypsee will be one of the clear winners in the space."

[Image courtesy Curtis Perry]