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New GoCatch CEO David Holmes appointed to push commercialisation to “where it needs to be”

Australian on-demand taxi booking and ridesharing startup GoCatch has appointed David Holmes as its new CEO, with cofounder and former CEO Ned Moorfield departing for new opportunities in the US.

Holmes has more than 20 years of experience in commercialising digital technologies and now and has joined the company in the middle of its transformation in design and regional outreach. Holmes has worked with global brands such as eBay, Monster, Commonwealth Bank, Microsoft, Telstra, Hyundai, Nestle and HSBC.

Moorfield said in a statement, “I’m extremely proud of what our team has achieved over the past five years, building the company from little more than an idea and a pitch deck, to now being a leading player in the high growth, on demand transport booking market. I’m excited to now have the opportunity to pursue new opportunities overseas, including improving access for Australian founders and startups to overseas capital and markets, and I wish David all the best in his new role as CEO.”

The appointment of Holmes means that, since its launch five years ago, GoCatch has now lost both its cofounders and one-time co-CEOs. Andrew Campbell, now at corporate accelerator Slingshot, left the company in October 2014 after it closed a $4.5 million funding round.

Adele Ferguson of the Sydney Morning Herald reported at the time that the funding was contingent on some “radical” changes to the business structures and management.

It seems as though similar sorts of concerns may have been raised over the last few months, with Holmes telling Startup Daily today that GoCatch has not been as successful at commercialising as it could have been.

“[Moorfield leaving] probably should have happened earlier in the year, or earlier in the business’s life form. I’m not a startup kind of guy, I’m a commercialisation guy, and they are two very different talents. Very rarely will you find a founder who understands how to really commercialise a business and give it 10x growth,” Holmes said.

“They know how to create really disruptive technologies, which Ned and previously Andrew have done a brilliant job with; for what they’ve spent on it, it’s a really good technology and app. But from a commercial perspective it’s not where it needs to be and that’s why you get someone like me in. Ned realised that, he was one of the instigators of saying it’s time to get someone in who can follow the money. Ned’s skill set is very different to mine.”

GoCatch and the market it plays in have changed radically since Campbell left. At that point, the startup was focused on disrupting Cabcharge, edging out fellow Australian startup ingogo, a competitor in the taxi booking space, and contending with the rising Uber.

With Uber’s local footprint growing fast, however, and the acceptance of it by state governments around Australia, GoCatch earlier this year made the move into ridesharing with the launch of goCar, its new rideshare offering, in Sydney.

Announcing the launch of goCar in February, Moorfield said he was confident that GoCar would tempt both drivers and passengers over from Uber. He said GoCatch itself was processing 100,000 taxi bookings a month, with the integration of the ridesharing offering into the same app hoping to tempt existing users try out the new service.

Holmes was tightlipped on the performance of GoCar and how it is tracking, but admitted that, while the startup could quote growth rates of 300-400 percent month on month for its ridesharing service, “it’s from such a low base” that “it’s a fictitious number, really.”

He attributed this low base to the startup’s stance on not launching GoCar into a market until it’s legal and said it will continue to take this approach to expansion around Australia.

“Even though it might be legal for us as a service, if it’s not legal for the drivers we won’t be interested in coercing people into doing something that’s illegal. We’ve got some very different values in this space to Uber on that. And we work with governments to show them what’s coming, rather than showing a bit of contempt for them,” he said.

Holmes said the launch of the service shows GoCatch has been a strong innovator and that his role now is to figure out how to improve the user experience across both the taxi and rideshare spaces.

“We’ve got a clear idea of what we need to prioritise, so the customer expectations are massively exceeded, both in taxis and in rideshare,” he said, highlighting driver supply and onboarding as a key issue for the startup.

“At this stage we would say our business model is very much one of supplementary to Uber, particularly for drivers. From a drivers perspective, and Uber’s not doing this either, it’s not a full time gig, so you do need a number of rideshare products in market with more consumers using those products so that the drivers are getting enough jobs to make it worth their while. That’s not just us, the big guys are finding exactly that same problem,” he said.

To help fuel growth in NSW and expansion around Australia, Holmes said he expects the startup to make “two to three massive changes” over the next quarter.

Upon launching GoCar, Moorfield had said the startup would be looking to raise a significant round of funding this year to help take on Uber’s billions, however Holmes said it’s not currently at the top of his agenda.

“I would prefer that we run hard between now and March, and we might need a little bit of funding in that period, but it’s not material…the revenue opportunity in this business is just amazing, and a lot of the growth will come from reinvesting revenue.”

Image: GoCatch. Source: Supplied.

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