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LIFTAGO: BUILDING A SMART CITY SOLUTION ON TOP OF OLD SCHOOL TAXI INFRASTRUCTURE

EntrepreneurCountry Global Friday, 07 November 2014.

Everyone probably knows Uber, Lyft and other services, disrupting the taxi and urban transportation industry. Being forced to think outside the box and inside Central European market conditions, Liftago came up with a different approach to innovate urban transportation.

shutterstock 81494167Liftago's ultimate ambition is to make urban transportation so accessible that people won't need their own cars in city centres. With this in mind, they analysed the urban mobility market in different parts of the world and found out that the best place to start are taxis. They discovered that more often than not, taxi drivers around the world are only 25 per cent utilised – only a quarter of miles they drive are with passengers on board. This was a nudge to build an aggregator, an open marketplace of available transportation capacity. Competition at the level of individual taxi drivers is the cornerstone of Liftago initial effort.

Liftago today is still a Prague based startup with more than $2m seed and angel investment capital. They've built apps to connect passengers with drivers and software to allow companies like taxi operators, restaurants and hotels to connect to their marketplace and buy or sell available taxi capacity. Liftago has already aggregated more than an estimated 10 per cent of all licensed taxi drivers in Prague and Liftago users have done more than 30k rides (incidentally, a similar number of rides that Uber scored after their launch in San Francisco).

The main challenge, which has so far remained unnoticed, are the user acquisition costs. By working with existing taxi infrastructure, Liftago's direct acquisition cost of drivers are close to zero which is in stark contrast with Uber - known to incentivize new drivers or even lose money in order to guarantee capacity. The old taxi market which still takes the vast majority of the whole pie and still largely offline is not going to go away within next couple of years. Liftago has placed a bet which says it will penetrate the market faster and with less cost by making it efficient.

The extra side effect that motivates the founders is the social impact they're creating. Juraj Atlas, Liftago CEO says "Rather than flooding the market with new drivers, we're utilising existing ones. Taxis take a big chunk on the transportation pie - making them more accessible is not only a good business, it's also an efficient way to decrease traffic and make people leave their cars at home."

The founder trio have their roles divided. While Juraj has built and is leading the team and is the tech brain of the company, Martin Hausenblas is the Liftago visionary and a strong advocate of autonomous mobility. Ondrej Kratky the third founder has the responsibility to sell the Liftago value to the world today. 

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