June 14, 2012
Serial entrepreneurs Tom DePasquale and Sanders Partee have worked on several successful DC-based startups – both together and separately – over the last 20 years. In 2007, it was time to start up again, and this time they decided to tackle the ground transportation industry.
The original idea around RideCharge was a marketplace for corporate travel bookers, where they could reserve shared vans, taxis, sedans, etc. The strategy was working, and they were enjoying steady growth.
And then the iPhone 2 was released – which meant the advent of the App Store. DePasquale and Partee immediately jumped on the opportunity to target consumers, so RideCharge pivoted and launched the Taxi Magic app in winter 2009.
“Business travelers love the app,” said Matt Carrington, Director of Marketing at RideCharge. “Whatever airport they’re coming out of (unless it’s NYC where you can’t dispatch a cab), they can easily get a cab.”
Taxi Magic is currently available n 45 markets with 36,000 taxis from 85 fleets participating. “Ground transit is a $10 billion industry – including taxis, sedans, limos,” Carrington said. “A significant portion is tied into large, established fleets – they own the cars, licenses, dispatch system. Uber has disrupted this model, but that’s not what our goal is. We are reforming the system. These fleets are entrenched and not going anywhere, but we can help make these drivers more efficient.”
Sedan Magic is just starting out (in NYC first), and like Taxi Magic, the service integrates with dispatch software, so, through the mobile app, sedan fleets can serve more passengers.
Due to early customer feedback, you now have the ability to book a sedan in the future. “We built the Sedan Magic app around consumer choice, so you can get the ride you want that fits your travel needs. Likewise, there is no meter – you get point-to-point pricing based on your destination.”
Carrington said there are fleets out there that have their own apps. “The problem with proprietary apps is that you have to continually update them, add more features based on industry standards and keep that dev team on board to do that – it becomes very expensive over time. You also need to market the app. Taxi Magic maintains the app and helps spread the word about fleet partners when we do local advertising.”
The RideCharge business model is definitely a win-win for fleets and consumers. You can download the Taxi Magic iPhone app here and the Android app here. You can download the Sedan Magic iPhone app here and Android app here.
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