In a market crowded by taxi apps and taxi booking services, you’d think that there was little room for success. But since it was founded in 2011, Taxicode has grown into the UK’s only nationwide online taxi booking service and had a revenue in 2012 of £1.5 million. Here, Taxicode founder Jonathan Kettle reveals how he’s taken on the big boys of the taxi booking world and succeeded
When you think of taxi booking services, you’ll naturally be drawn to those names you hear regularly in the press and those that have received hefty levels of investment. You would also be forgiven for thinking that the other companies operating in that space are probably chasing after the crumbs of business left behind by the big boys. I’d like to challenge that assumption today and let you know that no matter what sector you are in, you can thrive even in the face of huge competition.
Too much emphasis is put on seeking external investment as the only way forward when it comes to getting a business off the ground. I also think that people can often be very single-minded when it comes to innovation in business. Just because an idea like Twitter has been thought of, doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of other business ideas that can be built upon the original idea. It’s about how you approach the market. If you can bring something new that the market needs, your size is irrelevant.
Having a smaller operation that you own entirely can often be much more rewarding than have a tiny slice of a huge pie that you have very little influence over. The most fun part about running a thriving Internet business is the constant changes we bring. One morning I can have a new idea and by the end of the day we can have it live on our system. You can sleep at night thinking I might have run my business that little bit better today. We’ve rolled out 34 upgrades to www.taxipricecompare.co.uk already this year. Because we are small we don’t need to worry if we break something. We are not going to knock 1 million people of our system.
A business which rapidly gains pace due to inward investment can often run away with itself making them vulnerable to others who have more time and freedom to really think about an idea before bringing it to market. Unlike some of our larger competitors, there’s no pressure on us to release new versions of our services or to announce the latest developments to satisfy the investors. We’ve succeeded because we’ve had the freedom to take our time working out how to service both sides of the industry (the taxi firms and the end-users) and what we can develop to maximise opportunities for both. The result is that we are currently the only company that has the ability to work with all taxi companies, rather than just a few. We currently operate in over 400 towns covering approximately 95% of the UK population with over 10,000 taxis and mini cabs.
When it comes to looking at our approach compared to some of our competitors, the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ really does ring true for us. It has to potential to apply to your business too, so don’t be deterred by what might seem like a crowded marketplace.
Your idea does not have to perfect from day one, but make sure it will make you money. You will learn more about your business every day so make changes as you need to. Above all, just get on with it!