Global ridesharing company Gett is turning its attention to London, announcing on Friday its launch of a £10 flat fare for many London journeys between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., until the end of the month.
The flat fare is a clear sign of Gett’s intent to win over London customers as the battle for control of the global ridesharing market is increasingly competitive, with rival services like Uber and Lyft. It’s even more competitive in London where smaller companies like Maaxi and Hailo are also trying to gain market share.
But Gett seems to be off to good start. The company says that during the July London Underground strike, orders increased by 200% and downloads increased by 300%. Gett is clear in demand here, and it’s doing all it can to build on that. That’s bad news for the company’s competitors, as Gett can afford to absorb the cost of a low fare. The company expects to bring in $US500 million in revenue by 2015, and is aggressively competing with Uber around the world.
We talked to Gett’s CEO, Shahar Waiser, about the company’s plan for dominance in London, problems faced by its rivals, and its long-running rivalry with Uber.
Gett has waged a public war of words with Uber, and its head of operations in the US even threatened to launch legal action against the company after Uber was found to have aggressively pursued Gett drivers in an attempt to win them over. Gett’s US CEO said in an interview that “there is no question that Uber tried to hurt our business and steal our drivers,” going on to say that the company was considering launching legal action.
Waiser told Business Insider that the option of taking Uber to court “remains available,” but went on to explain that “each side learned a lot from that,” suggesting that Uber’s apology was enough. Does Waiser still think that Uber is unethical, as he suggested in a 2014 interview?
“I’m not saying anything new here,” he said. “I mean it’s kind of public knowledge. It comes from different angles. But again each company chooses — it’s not criminal being not ethical, it’s just a choice that each company does and there is nothing wrong or bad about it is just a way you do business.”
One major difference between Gett and Uber is the number of companies that use Gett to book corporate travel around London. We asked Waiser what kind of companies use his service:
We now have 2,500 large corporations using our corporate solution for transportation. Most of them are in the UK. Gett was doing B2B from the early days in 2011. Half of the companies in the Fortune 500 list are actually our clients. So if you look at investment banks, all of them except three are our clients. We have seven out of 10 of the largest legal firms.
Gett used to be known as GetTaxi, but rebranded as Gett in April after it announced that it would begin offering deliveries as well as taxi services. Uber is also testing a similar scheme. Waiser says that the first deliveries and extra services through Gett are scheduled to start this month. That’s a pretty late arrival to the delivery market: Uber and Amazon are already operating.
Can Gett win customers over?
We got the same questions when we launched four years ago with Gett. Four years ago it was a very fair comment to say, ‘come on, taxis are here for 100 years, there are plenty of them out there, why should I even click a button?’ The reality happened to be different because the only important thing for you is your time. Everything else you can buy more of. Once you start to use those on-demand services you learn quickly that it is the most efficient way for you to do things.
However, Gett faces an uphill struggle, as it’s trying to include services from lots of smaller companies in its app. That’s a very different prospect to disrupting the taxi industry. But Waiser says that Gett can offer a better service:
We already have a lot of people, more than 10 million people, who are already customers of Gett. What that means is that those customers already have their addresses in the system, credit card in the system, loyalty points in the system. They have our live 24/7 customer care. So when you have 10 million people doing this in a very addictive manner, different from other categories, transportation is going to be the core of our service, it isn’t going anywhere. People use it several times a day. The Gett app — lets put it this way, they use it more often than the plumber, or massage.
Gett’s move to offering on-demand services is an ambitious plan, so what does the app actually want to be?
I don’t want to say that Gett is trying to replace everything you do. We don’t have that in mind. Let me tell you what we don’t plan to do. We don’t plan to be Gett for anything, or Gett anything. Because once you do everything it’s kind of nothing. We want to be very specific and be within essential products and services. There will be all these players who will give you a broader choice in certain verticals, and it will always come with the compromise on speed or price or those things. Our goal is to give you essential products and services that we can deliver in 10 minutes. It’s immediate satisfaction. And when you think about a romantic dinner or a gourmet dinner, that would not be a good fit. We will take you there in the best and safest way, but the dinner itself will not be served on Gett.
One of Gett’s biggest competitors in London is ridesharing app Hailo. While the app is successful here, it recently pulled out of North America completely because it failed to become profitable in the country. Waiser says that the company’s woes are probably down to its attempt to work with yellow cabs in New York:
The problem that Hailo experienced in the US — it’s my personal opinion — is that they chose to work with yellow cabs in Manhattan. The way it works in New York is a little bit different. In Manhattan there are only yellow cabs, so people don’t need an app to hail yellows because they are available. They need black cars when they are outside of Manhattan. And second, they want to have a black car in Manhattan for when yellows are unavailable. If you work only with yellows, the only time you will use an app like Hailo or Gett is when yellows or busy or it’s raining. And exactly at this time when you need them, yellows will not be responding to requests because they have so much work on the streets. So they just made a wrong choice in the supply, nothing else. And statistics show they had 80% rejection on the orders.
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