Oiii is a taxi provider that believes there is still room for new government-approved taxi service provider in the country, where ride-sharing services like Uber have torn apart the taxi industry.
The recently launched taxi provider service in Melbourne, Oiii expects 50 new multi-color Oiii cars to pop up on the roads in Melbourne and taxi ranks during the coming months. They plan to expand to more than 1,000 Oiii cars by June.
Dennis Jeffees, the founder of Oiii has one of the original licenses for Europcar in Australia. He has put $2.5 million in funding the venture.
“The industry is in a sort of transition period,” says Jeffees. “When I first saw Uber five years ago in America I looked at the technology and thought ‘Wow, why hasn’t the taxi industry got this?’ MTData and Cabcharge have had the business tied up. I thought ‘How hard can it be’?”
He’s been developing Oiii’s technology ever since.
“We have taken the best of the existing taxi industry and the best of rideshare and tried to meld them together,” he says. “We are hoping to have 2000 cabs here in Melbourne within 12 months.”
Oiii cars can be found at cab ranks, ordered through the app, or hailed off the side of the street. There are no surcharges or booking fees and Wi-Fi is included in all cars. There will also be driver and passenger rating systems.
“The market has become very polarised by taxis and ride shares the extreme ends – there is a market gap now in the middle that we see Oiii as destined to fill,” says chief executive of Oiii, Roland Grelewicz. He claims the start-up will offer a hybrid alternative.
With the government’s industry under reform, Oiii is taking advantage of the changes. Taxi licenses currently do not need to be purchased, meaning applicants who hold either a driver or operator accreditation will pay an annual registration fee of $52.90.
“The taxi industry is surprisingly positive about it as a lot of people working in the industry have felt like they are very disadvantaged in many ways through frameworks that are locking them in in a particular way in frameworks that are making them uncompetitive,” Grelewicz says. “They understand they need to embrace a new look, new technologies and a new approach to customer service to become competitive again.”
Oiii taxi “primary” operators pay $800 to have their car fitted out with a regulated taxi meter, taxi light, Oiii signage, dispatch system, and safety cameras. The drivers then pay Oiii a fee of $260 per month to drive. They get a commission of 10% on jobs through the Oiii app.
There are also “secondary” services where existing taxi drivers use the Oiii app in their cabs.
Though there are two ways to work with Oiii, Grelewicz suspects primary operators will make up most of Oiii’s business.
“There is a bit of a glorified hitch-hiking to the ride-sharing service that has come in and is very appealing to consumers,” he says. “On the other side there is a lot of concerns about it. What we have seen is, therefore, our own opportunity to disrupt the multimillion-dollar ride-sharing industry and to create a new transport and taxi type.”
Following this launch, it will expand nationally. Western Australia is next on its list. This expansion is also dependent on the regulatory changes.
“New South Wales is a basket case at the moment,” says Jeffees. “It’s difficult because they don’t know what to do. The opportunity here is to try and drag the taxi industry into the 21st century and create a product that is much better than ride share.”
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