easy_taxi_logoEasy Taxi, a new taxi ordering service available in Egypt (mainly Cairo). I think the service started in Egypt in August 2013. Ogra, the Vodafone and Sawari Ventures backed company was supposed to hit market first, but they didn’t yet.

Easy Taxi is available in 20+ countries and expanding rapidly powered by $32 million in funding. I guess Ogra has only raised about $200k so maybe this is part of why their service is not operating yet.

I first found about Easy Taxi from their Facebook ad. Yesterday, I tried their app for the first time.

How it Works

Ordering a taxi is an easy task:

  1. open the app
  2. press the “Request taxi” button
  3. fill a small form to make it clear to the driver where you are waiting now (as GPS isn’t always perfect)
  4. wait for few seconds till a driver accept your request

When your request is accepted, you will see the name, photo, phone number of the driver, and the current location of the taxi moving on a map, with the taxi’s estimated arrival time.

While it’s easy to order a taxi, you would may need to cancel your order and start another one. I had to do 5 or 6 orders till I finally had a successful order.

My taxi orders always got accepted by drivers but I had to cancel them as one of the following happened

– Taxi driver accepted order, but I see him on map going far away from my location.
– Taxi driver called asking about my destination, but apologised as he didn’t not want to go to that place.
– Taxi driver asks me to meet him at the main road instead of coming to my current location.

I think it took me 30 minutes to finally get a taxi. I was actually going to quit trying but the last taxi driver called and said he is coming to where I’m waiting in few minutes.

The Driver

The driver was a guy in his late thirties. I noticed he was using an Android phone. I asked him about his experience being part of the Easy Taxi drivers program. he said he doesn’t get it yet. he has no idea how those people are making money. they gave him a discounted Android phone, and a monthly internet package. he doesn’t usually accept Taxi orders using their app, but this week he is trying to accept as much Easy Taxi orders as he can.

I asked him about what’s special about this week? he said, Easy Taxi is giving out prizes to drivers depending on the number of orders they serve. serving 21 orders during this week would make him win extra 1,000 EGP. he said it’s a good motivation for him to use the app. he said he thought at first about gaming the system someway or another, but he said it’s better to earn the money ethically.

I asked him about whether if adding a “destination” field to the taxi order form would be better for him? he said, Yes it will help and said that he told the Easy Taxi guys about it before but they didn’t agree with him. he said it’s always good to know the destination in advance to avoid calling the passenger to ask, especially that he once served a passenger who was going to a place about 1 km away, so it wasn’t worth it considering that he has to only start the cost counter once the passenger is inside the taxi.

Generally, he thinks this service may be good source of income someday, but currently he doesn’t expect a lot considering that the count of orders he gets notified about is ~15 orders/day.

Improvements

I hope this service and the likes will improve over time. they will need to do a lot of work considering how the Egyptian market is not comfortable dealing with anything related to technology. some of the suggested improvements is to localize the app for passengers and drivers. I didn’t see the driver’s app but he said it was in English, which doesn’t make sense considering how most of the drivers can’t read English.

Also the destination field is something worth adding to the passenger’s app. At other countries drivers don’t usually care about your destination, but in Egypt, it’s a different game. either add the missing text field or find another solution.

The driver told me he is using Zello to keep track of traffic news. I told him to install Wasalny and By2ollak for better traffic news. so making a deal with one of those apps will add better value to the driver’s app.

The most important improvement is to increase the number of daily orders. spending on facebook ads is fine but I think buying ad space inside Taxis will have better effect. I see a lot of ads on Facebook and I ignore most of them, but an Ad inside the Taxi, right in front of me, this is something I won’t be able to ignore. also, having something like an affiliate program with the drivers would be great too. If a taxi driver tells me to install an app that will allow me to order a taxi and it will cost me nothing, this is something I would think about.

Egypt isn’t a great market yet for providing service digitally. people are not used to buying or getting services online, so it takes a lot of effort to educate people about a new way to do stuff. I hope in few years, this service and the likes will be something that everyone use daily in this country.

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