One Billion Bookings Milestone at iCabbi Interview with Taxi Alliance CEO Bob Nixon

Dec 8, 2022

by Sinead Gillett

Last month, iCabbi surpassed One Billion rides on its dispatch platform. It’s a significant milestone, contributed to by over 500 taxi companies in the UK & Ireland. iCabbi disrupted the traditional taxi industry here with the first fully-cloud-based software and SaaS solution over a decade ago. It has transformed companies across the UK by empowering them to automate, optimise and grow their fleets, and holds a sizeable chunk of the market. Recently, it launched the Taxi Alliance, which now represents over 39,000 licenses and is the largest alliance of its kind in the world. This is a joint venture between iCabbi and the independent taxi and private hire industry in the UK & Ireland designed to deliver security and strength to the industry. 

Sinead Gillett caught up with iCabbi founder and CEO of the Taxi Alliance Bob Nixon to take a look back on those one billion bookings and look forward to the next billion and beyond. 

Q: As a founder of iCabbi, how does hitting a milestone like One Billion Bookings make you feel?
A: Proud. I know that’s the obvious answer, but really you don’t get to feel proud every day, or at least you don’t stop to think about what you take pride in. Reaching a milestone like this gives us that point of reflection and the feeling I have is very much a swelling of pride and wonder and satisfaction too, and gratitude. Our hard work has resulted in something truly noteworthy. The data point itself isn’t that relevant, but what it represents is. We’ve helped lots and lots of taxi companies to not just manage but transform their businesses. It is a great feeling. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Bob? How did you come to work in the taxi industry?
A: In four words, a friend got lost! I had been working in a family publishing company for a number of years heading up a project to modernise the business and bring it online and we were early entrants into the consumer facing app and cloud based web industry. The core business was hotel and restaurant guidebooks and we had a very good reputation as a result, we had a wide network in the hospitality industry. Gav got lost in Portugal in Summer 2009 with his girlfriend. He had the idea there and then for creating a taxi app in Ireland. Given the potential to generate trips from hotels, restaurants, and pubs there seemed to be a good opportunity for us to work together. It all turned out a long way from how it was initially envisaged but that’s not unusual for technology start-ups and it’s been one enjoyable roller coaster ride. 

Q: What are the main factors you attribute to the success of iCabbi in the UK?
A: Definitely I would say strong relationships. It’s about people and we have always tried to be honest and fair and to take good care of our customers. Customer Success is at the centre and I think focusing on this has led to us being able to build up such a large customer base. Of course, the technology itself is also central. We delivered a truly break-through product that changed how taxi companies worked and helped them to transform digitally. The reliability of the system too is important. We are able to handle massive amounts of bookings because our system never fails. 99.999% up-time is unrivalled in the market and this stability has helped us build something that most other companies can’t achieve in terms of volumes of bookings. Indeed this has also helped the ease of growth we provide to our own customers. We help them grow and so the combined result on our system grows ever bigger too. 

Q: The Taxi Alliance launched back in March of this year. Why have you brought this new model forward?
A: We wanted to bring security to the market. We heard our customers’ fears that their dispatch providers could or would sell out to competitors in the taxi industry and listened to them when they asked us to do something about it. We felt this kind of uncertainty around the software that taxi companies run their businesses on. It felt very unhealthy for the industry. Our customers asked us to bring some certainty that taxi companies could confidently continue to build their businesses on a platform that continues to champion the taxi and private hire trade. We’ve done that through a number of different legal structures built into the Taxi Alliance. What we’ve done now gives us a great opportunity to leverage the strength we have in numbers and to engage widely through collaboration. Bringing the industry together with shared goals is to the benefit of all and we’re working very hard towards this. 

Q: What has the response been to the Taxi Alliance so far?
A:  Very strong. On the last count, we had well over 39,000 licences and this apparently makes us the largest alliance of its kind anywhere in the world, which is something else we are very proud of. 

Q: What has happened since you launched?
A:  We’re really just getting started. There was a tremendous amount of legal work involved in getting the Taxi Alliance over the line. Too much! Really it was very onerous and necessarily so, as it is a particularly complicated legal structure designed for mutual benefit. That first phase is now over, for the most part, and over the last months. We’ve been working on setting up structures and initiatives that will help the Taxi Alliance achieve its goals. A Board of Directors including directors from taxi companies has been set up and meeting since the beginning of the summer. We’ve also established a product council that has 10 people from taxi members sitting on it. The Product Council’s role is to help shape the development of the iCabbi product for the UK and Irish markets by providing feedback directly to the product team at iCabbi. The council met for the first time on December 1st and it was a very enthusiastic session. Now that we’ve done all the structural and legal parts, I believe we’re now at the end of the beginning and look forward to really pushing on in 2023 to achieve what we can. As such we’re working on initiatives to derive value from our power of numbers right now. Of course, from a product perspective, work is underway on developing sophisticated networking functionality for the Taxi Alliance to members.

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