An app company for minicab drivers has set out to take on Uber in Britain, claiming to provide better coverage in rural areas.
The latest brainchild of William Berry, a serial entrepreneur, Cabs.com is being launched today offering fares from 8,000 private hire vehicle companies boasting 150,000 cars across Britain — compared with Uber’s 50,000 UK drivers.
Mr Berry, 42, has plans to sign up as many as possible of Britain’s 15,000 local minicab firms and their 250,000 cars as they seek to fend off competition from Silicon Valley.
“There is a battle coming between the cab firms and Uber,” Mr Berry said. “All the cab firms are going to realise that unless they team up, they’re going to go out of business and I’m hoping they decide to team up with Cabs.com.”
The launch comes as Uber seeks to price its flotation in New York this week with a valuation of as much as $90 billion.
Cabs.com claims that by maintaining the middleman, its app provides a clearer pathway for recourse than its ride-hailing rivals, over issues such as fares, lateness and unacceptable behaviour. It also purports to be safer because local authorities require stricter security checks on minicab drivers.
The rate of commission is lower, too: firms pay 10p per fare compared with Uber’s 30 per cent, although Mr Berry said that this could increase and that firms still charged drivers their own fee, the rate of which is out of Cabs.com’s control. “We’ve tried to put our prices at the absolute lowest we possibly can because in a mature market they really matter,” he said. “We’re hoping the cab firms do the same.”
The company’s main point of difference is its presence in Britain’s least-populated counties, where Uber tends to struggle. Cabs.com boasts 52 cars on the Isle of Wight, 620 in the Scottish Highlands and 171 in Gwynedd, north Wales.
Mr Berry said that he hoped to gain a 20 per cent market share in Britain, which he estimates to be worth about £3 million to £4 million and would give him a platform to take the business worldwide.
He has already had successful online bets. He co-founded Accommodation For Students, a housing site, and Conferences UK, a search engine for venues, and sold his stakes in both, each for seven figures, in 2017.