It’s no secret that Uber has had a rocky ride since it first launched in Australia. From taxi protests to drivers having their vehicle registration suspended and Canberra announcing that it would be the first Australian city to introduce legislation regulating Uber and other ridesharing services, it’s fair to say Uber has caused quite a stir.
While many drivers and riders are now Uber devotees, others have tried the service and decided it’s not for them. John Sajadi is one of them. While running a hire car business, he decided to try his hand at driving for Uber. Through both these experiences he saw first-hand the issues that passengers and drivers were facing and decided to solve them with a new app called TickToc, developed with co-founder and CFO Al Sajady.
Rather than competing directly with Uber, Sajadi said TickToc is looking to provide a new alternative to services like Cabcharge and goCatch for passengers who prefer taxis or hire cars.
“The taxi and hire car industry needs a change, as customers nowadays prefer more advanced technologies which facilitate increased safety and a better customer experience for their transportation needs. We developed TickToc to make the world a better and safer place for consumers and drivers,” Sajadi said.
“TickToc has taken what Uber offers and made it better. We’re raising the bar for taxi and hire car applications.”
Like all the other apps, the TickToc passenger app allows a passenger to register by providing a mobile number and email address, and credit card or PayPal details to pay for future trips. Their account is given a unique barcode that, similar to the Opal card or myki public transport systems, aims to replace the taxi meter by calculating fares through GPS.
Once registered, passengers can book cards on demand or book for a specific date and time. The system sends customers all the details available about their driver an hour before their booking, with early morning booking information sent at 9pm the night before. Of course, they can also track their driver live. Drivers signing up to the platform must provide all their credentials, with TickToc checking their accreditation and inspecting their cars before they are given authorisation to receive bookings.
“Due to my experience in this industry, I have covered what passengers really need, including options such as receiving an electronic invoice after their trip is completed. Personal assistants can book for their corporate clients, and bookkeeping is made available and kept very simple, with all their trips and expenses viewable in their account on the website,” Sajadi said.
In fact most of these features are available on taxi apps like ingogo and goCatch; however where the real difference lies is in the rating system. TickToc allows riders to rate drivers, and allows them to favourite a trip and driver. The system will then prioritise drivers with a better rating, or favourite drivers, if they’re within range of on-demand and advance bookings for a subsequent trip.
“Even in my old business my customers had favourite drivers. This extra option will make our drivers more competitive to provide a better service,” Sajadi said.
The barcode system could also be an interesting feature. It works by having the driver app read the customer’s barcode, and uploads their details into their own app and vice versa. The customer then clicks to accept and start a journey, which the GPS feature records and saves in its entirety for safety.
“At the completion of the trip the customer’s card is charged, and the system sends the customer’s invoice electronically with map reference from pickup location to the address travelled. The barcode system provides safety and security for both parties involved, especially for parents booking cars and taxis. With TickToc, they can locate their children’s whereabouts, even when hailing taxis from the street,” Sajadi said.
The success of ingogo and goCatch in particular shows that Uber hasn’t killed the taxi just yet (though the regulatory issues have probably also had a part to play, of course), which bodes well for TickToc. goCatch has partnered with giants like Qantas and Ernst & Young, and raised $8 million in funding to date from investors including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s son Alex. However, this success also means TickToc faces a tough road ahead. 30,000 cabs around Australia are using goCatch and more than 280,000 users making bookings through its app.
Sajadi and Sajady have self-funded the development of TickToc thus far. Sajadi’s contacts in the industry have seen a few hundred drivers come on board so far, with the startup partnering with Melbourne’s Executive Limousines. Sajadi hopes to secure investment in order to expand into NSW by next January and around Australia by June 2016.