Elevator Pitch: ingogo

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Hamish Petrie, founder of ingogo.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Ingogo began as a faster and more convenient way to book and pay for a taxi, and has evolved into the only Australian taxi booking app which is also a mobile payment platform. We launched the world’s first app-based payment system in October 2013 in partnership with ANZ Bank and Ingenico, which consists of a wireless terminal for cab fare transactions that can process, mobile wallet, contactless and EFTPOS and magstripe payments.

We are also the leading taxi-services start-up in Australia, recording over 1.5 million taxi trip payments in the past 12 months, in the face of some pretty stiff competition from both the old school taxi payments industry and other app-only players.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We’ve secured over $7 million in funding and we are working toward a listing on the ASX.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

Taking the taxi monopoly head-on in a competitive environment means encountering many challenges. Ahead of our Melbourne launch earlier this year for example we received legal threats from traditional provider Live Payments, essentially because they didn’t like our driver commission program, and faced a smear campaign by GM Cabs, who spread false rumours about us to the taxi drivers.

These challenges just prove to us that we’re doing something right — if incumbents are having to resort to desperate measures to try and stop you it means you have a great product!

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

We are very much about making life easier for both passengers and taxi drivers. For us, it’s about providing innovative features, doing it well, and concentrating on building lasting relationships with the drivers and passengers.

This includes putting the customer in direct conversation with the driver; a future booking feature allowing users to book a cab up to 48 hours in advance with a $10 guarantee the driver that accepts your job will collect you; and safety features such as the SMS your friend option, which sends the details of your cab to loved ones in a text message. For drivers this means giving them great service, more opportunities to make money, and empowering them to do their jobs better.

The incumbent taxi companies have been around for so long and have been gouging drivers and poorly servicing passengers for too long.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Apart from ingogo of course, Soundhound for finding out what new music is playing, then Triple J and Spotify for pumping it out on my sound system at home.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Find what you love to do and then just never ever every give up. Passion and persistence are the golden keys to success.

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