An app for the everyday, says founder of Moshtix
by Keris Lahiff
Where a lot of apps focus on games and the novelty factor, some carve their way into your smartphone’s permanent app screen; they’re a daily need, a necessity never to be deleted. Hamish Petrie’s ingogo could soon join the ranks as one of these mainstay apps.
Petrie knows how to make the most of a product, even in the most crowded of marketplaces. Founder of Moshtix, the first ticketing agency to take on the big guns Ticketek and Ticketmaster, Petrie has experience in turning the most ingrained processes on their head and putting forth an alternative simple solution.
So, ticketing and event industry: tick. The next on Petrie’s radar? Taxis.
For Petrie, the idea for an app can come from everyday annoyances – in fact, it’s in these circumstances that a consumer will want a quick-fix solution the most. Petrie’s idea, ingogo, is an in-app and online service that allows users to request a taxi, bid for guaranteed pick-up during peak hours, and get real-time updates of the whereabouts of the booked vehicle, all through their smartphone or computer.
“Yet again we are taking on the big guys – we know people are looking for change in the taxi industry and ingogo is aiming to bring it about,” says Petrie.
An idea conceived
In all its simplicity, it’s a wonder no one has thought of it earlier. So how did the idea come about?
“The idea has been bugging me for about 12 months,” he says. “You ring up to book them and you’re sitting there waiting and the cab doesn’t turn up and you have to ring back the call entre and talk to a robot.
“You can spend quite a while waiting for someone real to answer the phone.”
For those unfortunate enough to be stuck in Sydney’s CBD at 3am, this is a pain known all too well. Petrie says it was this anecdotal evidence – “talking to people friends, other people when you’re out” – as well as his own personal experiences that spurred him to realise the business opportunity.
“I just thought this system is broken. You’ve basically got existing networks overbooking the inventory of cabs,” he says. “Coming from a ticketing mindset where you can only sell the available tickets that are there, I thought this just doesn’t make sense.”
And, with the proliferation of apps solving all kinds of problems from identifying music to checking the weather forecast, Petrie saw the potential to use the smartphone to solve the problems the current taxi system had created.
“I started thinking about smartphones and all the things you can do using GPS,” he says. “What if a smartphone was the terminal inside a cab? We could actually bypass all those existing systems and talk directly with the cab driver through mobile phones.”
The app, which connects people to taxis in their area in real-time and allows users to bid to guarantee taxis during peak times, aims to put a supply and demand mechanic into the system, as well as streamlining the whole process.
“For passengers, it’s just going to create a lot more visibility about what’s happening with their booking requests,” he says. “This means no more standing in lines, waiting around with no idea where your cab is.
“It’s going to make that customer service experience a whole lot better.”
It won’t just be the customers who benefit though. The taxi drivers, and the businesses who employ them, will also see the benefits.
“Taxi drivers are getting a lot of flack for things they’re not actually causing, that are being caused by bad processes within the way existing networks run,” he says.
“A lot of the inefficient processes now, they’re wasting that taxi resource. You’ve got drivers driving around town looking for fares. Given where technology is at, that’s a really silly thing to be doing. If you can connect passengers to drivers directly and you can do that really well, that means you’re going to have less cabs burning petrol, driving around the streets looking for fares.”
“We’re actually surveying taxi drivers when we’re taking taxi trips, asking them about the problems on their side,” he says. “If we build the system a certain way, we can solve both passenger and driver problems and make a pretty good business out of it.”
Behind the business idea
How has Petrie gone from concept to product? He says it’s all down to forming the dream team to share the vision.
“Basically forming the initial team of guys,” he says. “It’s been around building that initial core team that will run the business and setting up the development process.
“We’ve been busy building our first release of software, kind of in the final testing phase now.”
And as a free download, Petrie also had to determine how the business was going to make money.
“Very similar to the ticketing business we had before, Moshtix, basically charging a booking fee so when you make the booking request, we’ll charge a fee for that which gets collected through our system or through the driver if you’re paying cash,” he says.
Ahead of its launch in August, Petrie is already seeing how in need this kind of solution is. Within two weeks of the website going live, and without any marketing spend, they had received more than 8500 unique visitors to the site, and 1250 people had registered on their prelaunch Registered Passengers list.
“That tells me there’s a lot of frustrated people,” says Petrie.
However, Petrie is wary that the app cannot be released until the infrastructure can support the demand – after all, this is where the current system is failing.
“We don’t want to release it prematurely and not have enough drivers there so we’ve been focusing on getting the pool of drivers up,” he says.
Once established though, Petrie expects a lot of the problems currently facing the industry to dissipate.
“ingogo is about more control and better service for passengers, and more control and a fairer share of revenues for drivers.”
Starting in the Sydney market, the largest of the taxi markets in Australia, ingogo intends to then expand into Victoria before going nationwide.
Published on: Thursday, July 28, 2011