My Startup: xooox
The introduction of app-based technologies has changed the way riders find transport.
xooox was set up to make the app-transport industry fairer. It doesn't take drivers away from companies. Instead, it enables the existing industry to become more efficient in delivering a great service to riders.
xooox will allow cab companies and drivers to remain independent, but network together to offer an unrivalled service to riders across any country.
Founder: Darren Tenney, CEO
We spoke to Darren to find out the story behind Xooox.
Why did you start xooox?
I set up xooox to make the ride-hailing industry fairer for drivers. My history is in the cab business; my Grandad and Dad used to drive minicabs in the Midlands so the industry has always been in my blood. After my Dad was taken ill, I took over driving his vehicle. After a few years, I had grown those operations to become the largest fleet of minicabs operating in Worcestershire.
I loved working in the trade but I have witnessed some deep frustrations about the way the industry operated. For example, if you’re a minicab driver, you 100 per cent rely on your local operator or cab firm to give you jobs. They also decide how much you earn. That works pretty well as cab drivers and their minicab operators tend to have close working relationships as they depend on each other to be successful.
But the whole minicab industry changed dramatically with the introduction of the major ride-hailing apps. With them, an algorithm decides which driver gets work and how much they get paid, and algorithms don’t have much empathy if a driver needs a few days off or needs to earn a bit more cash to fund something important.
Hackney carriage drivers – that’s black cab drivers in London - also have some valid frustrations. They feel as if they’re at a disadvantage, and they’ve never really had a great way of finding passengers other than waiting at a rank or cruising around on the lookout for a customer.
xooox is an app that all drivers – both minicabs and taxicabs – can use to find their own passengers and set their own fares. That’s good for passengers too, as they now have access to all sorts of vehicles all from one place.
Tell us more about the app?
xooox is different in many ways. First of all, passengers can choose between private hire vehicles and taxicabs, making a selection based on the fare, ETA, size of the vehicle, whether it’s accessible or even if it’s electric. No other app can offer that breadth of choice. It’s radically different – and fairer – for drivers.
For the first time ever, drivers can see a map of all the passengers seeking a cab in their vicinity, and they have complete control over who they work for. They can set their prices and change them in real time if they want to get more fares.
Taxicab drivers can now find passengers without driving around, burning fuel and adding to congestion – they can let the app do the searching for them which is good for their pockets and the environment. Minicabs and their operators can supplement their existing pre-bookings with work found through xooox; there’s less sitting around, fewer wasted miles and more control over their own livelihoods.
The final major difference is we’re giving access to the platform behind the xooox app to all the UK’s cab regulators; that’s more than 350 different organisations. They can log on to see how many drivers are in their areas at any one time, checking that all vehicles have the appropriate licences. It’s the first time they have ever had this street-level visibility, and it will help them enforce their rules, keeping passengers safe and protecting the incomes of all the law-abiding cabbies operating in the UK today.
Where’s the business at right now?
We have just launched xooox. The passenger app and driver app went live on 10 May, and are now available to download on both the AppStore and Google Play Store. We’re also contacting the nation’s cab regulators to make sure they get the most out of their free access to the xooox platform.
What are your aims for the next year?
Our number one objective is to get as many drivers and minicab firms to sign up for xooox as possible. Because we’re offering them a fair deal and more control over how they work, we believe they’ll encourage their passengers to book future rides via xooox. We’ll also be working hard explaining to passengers why xooox isn’t just a convenient way to hail a cab, it’s a fair one too.
We also have some interesting smart cities and environmental initiatives in the works – it’s going to be a busy 12 months!
What’s been the hardest thing about getting xooox off the ground?
The entity search technology that underpins xooox is completely different from anything that’s gone before. While our software development team has taken this in its stride, filing the patent was complicated and very time-consuming.
When you start a business, you know you’ll have to do these things, but it was a surprise how complex this process was. Fortunately, the patent is now filed, so we can press on with rolling out the service.
Why should more people be using in xooox?
xooox is a convenient way to hail a cab, that offers more choice to passengers but at the same time empowers – rather than enslaves – drivers. The potential market is tremendous.
Any licensed driver can sign up and use it now, which means xooox can be used nationwide, not just in a small number of cities, which is the case with other apps.
How much will it cost customers compared to other similar apps? and why is it worth it?
xooox is free to download and use. Passengers get to choose which ride they take from a list of available drivers in their area. They’re in complete control over which cab they take. They may wish to pick the cheapest available, but they might prefer to select the closest, or – if they have luggage – a vehicle with a large boot.
We’re providing a marketplace where drivers and passengers can strike their own deals, so the cost will depend on good old-fashioned market forces.