Interviews

Uber will not spell the end of black cabs, says Gett UK CEO Remo Gerber

5 min read

17 June 2015

Former editor

On the back of rolling out its operations into 18 new cities in the UK, Real Business asked Remo Gerber, the UK CEO of taxi app Gett, what he thought the future had in store.

Uber may be leading the way when it comes to on-demand rides in London, but visit any other of the major UK cities and you may struggle to get around as fast. This is where Gett is hoping to grab a share of a highly competitive market.

The business, which used to go by the GetTaxi name until recently (more on that decision later on), is now available in cities ranging from Edinburgh to Birmingham, and from Milton Keynes to Hull.

Calling itself the UK’s “only nationwide taxi app”, Gett works exclusively with licensed black cabs and Hackney Carriages and is being funded by $200m worth of venture capital investment.

With the underlying technology linking consumers with black taxis in multiple cities, Gett and Gerber want to overlay new products and services to extend the company’s offering. Much like Uber is experimenting with shopping or food deliveries, Gett too sees it as the way forward.

So, what does differentiate Gett from Uber? Putting this question to Gerber, the coming together of a consumer and business market seemed to be the main point. Gett are also providing a way for advanced bookings to be made, with a 24/7 customer services department to back that up.

Going up against Uber, Hailo, Kabbee and even Addison Lee does not seem to be deterring Gerber. Despite Uber having a “colossal amount of money”, the CEO does not believe it will be the only company in the world doing delivery services.

The challenge he and his team are facing when it comes to new cities is summed up by the chicken and egg analogy. It is hard to sign up drivers if there are no customers, but likewise hard to get customers interested if there is nobody to give them a lift.

By working with black taxis though, Gett is circumventing some of the challenges Uber is facing all around the world. All black taxis are checked and vetted by local councils, meaning Gett knows it can rely on them for safety and standards.

It’s offering also seems to be far more relevant outside of London, where Uber doesn’t have its tentacles and in cities needing both short and long distance ride platform.

Read more about the taxi app war:

Gett is competing with the likes of Addison Lee by offering fixed prices on longer distances, and can therefore often be much cheaper than the corporate heavyweight because it doesn’t have a set minimum fare.

On the Uber front, Gett was firm in his conclusion. “Uber isn’t going to spell the end of black cabs, they have so much going for them. And cabs aren’t tech averse, quite the contrary actually.

“You hear a lot of PR stores that cabbies aren’t pro tech, and while they have for a long time been against credit cards, generally they are embracing apps.”

Looking at the different towns and cities Gett has now set up in, he highlighted student populations as ones which are clearly very active and quick to pick up on technology. However, it is Scottish pick up which has surprised him the most.

The name change Gett went though saw it drop the word taxi, but keep an extra “t” as a nod to its taxi upbringing. Gett will now work as a brand the world over, also allowing it to add new products and services that aren’t about requesting a ride from A to B.

“We want to be the market leader in the on-demand space, making use of our technology to create that same user experience,” he added.

Since setting up in 2010, Gett has facilitated 30m rides around the world, with overseas operations being found in New York, Moscow and Tel Aviv. According to Gerber, it is on track to have 10,000 licensed cab drivers on the app this summer, and is bringing more than 1500 new drivers onto the platform each month. First seen as a taxi app, consumers will soon be able to access food, health and beauty products, home maintenance and dry cleaning.