Keeping tabs on cabs


Lorenzo Caffarri co-founded ubiCabs with Jay Patel in October 2010. The company locates and books taxi services in London.

 Keeping tabs on cabs


Lorenzo Caffarri co-founded ubiCabs with Jay Patel in October 2010. The company locates and books taxi services in London.

Lorenzo Caffarri co-founded ubiCabs with Jay Patel in October 2010 after they graduated from London Business School. The product locates and books taxi services in London.

How did you come up with the idea?
On my way to London Business School I would pass huge lines of empty taxis at stations. That was the spark. I thought it was inefficient, that there must be a way to match supply with demand. Initially, the research was part of a project in the first year. In my second year, I thought it was good so I worked on my business plan.

What is the appeal to users?
We check all the cab companies we work with and do pricing comparisons. So the user requests a cab from A to B, we find all the cabs that can do the journey, we pick the cheapest ones and send them a request. The user doesn’t need to shop around – they know they’re getting a reasonable price.

How did you finance it?
We self-financed it. At the moment we are looking for funding so I’m in contact with a few angel investors and VCs and we hope to close the first round of funding within the next couple of months. The reason we need investors is because we want to scale up the system: we’ll need additional services to make it so useful that everyone uses it.

How have cab companies responded to the service?
They responded very positively. We had a really high sign-up rate because we have no entry fees. We only charge a commission on the bookings transferred and accepted by the cab companies. We have over 20 companies signed up and just under 1,000 vehicles. User feedback is very important. As a start-up, you need to adapt and to know what to do next.

Are there growth opportunities?
We didn’t market it that strongly because our objective is to do it step by step. We really think the opportunity is international. The taxi market, although it’s different in every country, has the same problems with efficiency and pricing.

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