Capital raise: Cabsolutely offers taxi consumers, operators an upgrade
Milt Capps updated May 10, 2016
Update: May 4, 2016 - Cabsolutely filed for a $500K raise here. Sept. 10, 2015 - Cabsolutely announced today it is live in Nashville in a partnership with Kwik Cab Nashville and looking for beta testers.-Ed.
CABSOLUTELY offers taxi consumers and dispatchers a new tech platform that is being launched from Memphis and developed in Hungary.
Its majority owner told VTC the company aims to raise a total $300K in Seed capital, and now has $85K committed from an undisclosed investor. The early-Seed round should enable it to get to about $1MM annual revenue. About 18 to 20 months from now, it may seek $1MM-$2MM growth capital.
In addition to targeting individual investors, majority-owner Reti said Cabsolutely is "a great fit for female leadership-empowering funds. Also, as a team from Hungary, we are targeted by [a growing number of funds that] invest in central-eastern European (CEE) teams..."
Memphis affords the startup easy access to the Mid-South market; and, locating development activity in Budapest lets the owners tap into their European talent network, which translates into sharply reduced overhead and, thus, "dramatically" longer runway for the startup, said Reti.
"With the same amount of money, we [can buy] at least three times more [development] time as teams in the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City, she said.
Another advantage: Potential customers in the Memphis region are not as "overloaded with products and services as on the coasts." And, she said, Memphis offers mentors, potential partnerships and other startup support -- without so many startups vying for those resources.
The company has already locked-in one Memphis partner in a pivotal role: Ham Smythe IV, president of Premier Transportation, Yellow Cab and Checker Cab, as well as past-president of the nation's Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association (TLPA). His companies have become Cabsolutely's first customer.
Cabsolutely's advisors thus far, in addition to Smythe, include Mike Hoffmeyer, entrepreneur and director of the Crews Center of Entrepreneurship at University of Memphis; and, Naomi Bata, the SVP-PR at the Memphis-based archer>malmo agency.
Reti said Cabsolutely's "system-as-a-service" is competitive, because the company provides taxicab company operators a Cloud-based replacement for dispatch software, and gives drivers and consumers mobile-app access and payment solutions, with what the founders believe is an improved user experience via either app or phone. The system allows real-time confirmation of the disposition of requests and offers connections to multiple cab companies.
Cabsolutely, said Reti, has "all the convenient features people have come to expect in the last couple of years: driver and passenger profiles, real-time tracking, mobile payment..." The system reprents an upgrade for many taxi operators, she said, adding that Cabsolutely obviates the need for operators to maintain as much infrastructure.
Entering the Upstart program (managed by Start Co.) required the co-founders' first travel outside of Europe, she said.
The idea of pursuing a startup grew gradually. The pair had been close since high school and for more than seven years they have regularly tackled projects together, including building a motorbike.
In the past two years, she said, news coverage of startups prompted them to learn more, and led them to believe that "the startup style of having a business is the way you can be successful -- or fail fast, and then be successful."
Reti said she grew up listening to stories her father told of his entrepreneurial experiences and of how he dealt with challenges. And, her parents instilled confidence in her regarding tackling new adventures. When her father revealed he had visited Tennessee 25 years ago, Reti said she felt that was "a good sign from the Universe."
Simon, also, has long been inventive and entrepreneurial, said Reti. "He had his first venture at the age of 14, [when] he made a website through which gamer kids were able to pay for game servers with a paid text message, on an hourly basis." Otherwise, she explained, advance payment for at least a month at a time was required.
VTC research suggests competitors for Cabsolutely include Uber, Hailo (Apple), Cab4Me, TaxiMagic (RideCharge), TaxiFinder (Unleashed) and FlyWheel, among others.
The Jump Fund, a women-oriented fund based in Chattanooga and allied with the Golden Seeds fund, is among logical targets for Cabsolutely capital raise, Reti acknowledged. VTC