Case study: how goCatch challenged the status quo
There’s no doubt digital disruption has changed the traditional rules of so many business models. But when we think about great examples of disruption, it’s usually Uber, Airbnb, Amazon and Alibaba that first come to mind.
While those global giants have certainly transformed transport, travel and retail, there are also many new Australian businesses harnessing the power of new technology to challenge the status quo.
Be prepared for chaos, rapid change and a lot of hard work
Putting passengers back in control
goCatch is one homegrown example. The taxi booking, tracking and payment app first launched in late 2011 and now operates in all Australian cities and many major regional centres – from Townsville to Launceston.
About half of Australia’s taxi drivers (35,000) use the booking system, it has 350,000 registered users and in August it clocked its two millionth ride.
"The founders, Andrew Campbell and Ned Moorfield, were frustrated by the service and reliability of the taxi industry," explains Charles Hunter, goCatch’s Director of Sales and Marketing. "They thought of a way to put control back in the hands of consumers – and in the process transformed an industry."
With goCatch, users can book a taxi in five seconds and see exactly where their taxi is on approach. They can also make direct contact with the driver.
"It takes the stress out of getting from A to B," says Hunter. "Before, you’d be on hold with the booking agency and then be told ‘the next available’ would be dispatched. Now we’ve turned that idea of ‘next available’ on its head – you can see where all the nearest taxis are on a map in the palm of your hand."
Turning traditional standards upside down
The app gives both passengers and drivers visibility and certainty – two things that had been lacking.
"It has brought back common courtesy between taxi drivers and passengers," Hunter comments, when asked the secret to goCatch’s success.
"It has forced the taxi industry to reassess the standard of service it provides – because for the first time, drivers and passengers can rate each other. We actually ban 100 to 200 drivers in any given month and we also ban customers too."
Drivers, who pay a variable booking fee to goCatch for each job, are also happy. "They now have assurance the passenger will be there for collection when they arrive," says Hunter. "We’re often providing them with more jobs than the traditional network providers and they’re spending less time sitting at a rank.
Saving time and costs with corporate travel
goCatch is a high volume transactional business that captures valuable data – which it is now sharing with its corporate customers. "There’s an opportunity to get efficiencies through rich data and sound reporting."
Hunter cites one example of a large firm that, on receiving monthly reports from goCatch, identified it had dozens of staff going to the airport at the same time. "They are now sharing taxis, saving thousands of dollars and also improving the business culture because people are connecting from different teams."
Airport travel accounts for 20 per cent of goCatch’s bookings, and corporate travellers often book with goCatch as soon as their plane touches down. A driver immediately phones to confirm they will meet them at the terminal’s pre-booked taxi zone. "I’ve personally saved up to an hour not standing in that Friday night queue," comments Hunter.
Advice for would-be disruptors
Hunter is a veteran of the start-up sector, and says the most important thing any business can do with a new idea is to "do your homework and move fast. You can be copied very quickly these days, so don’t sit on it and ponder for years."
He says it’s also important to:
- employ the best people you can, and listen to them
- be prepared to take calculated risks
- be willing to try something new every day
- be prepared for chaos, rapid change and a lot of hard work.
Momentum will build naturally if you have a great product, because people will talk about it.
"Start by getting your family and friends to use it and talk about it, and give you honest feedback. Then expand to your personal network. And then tap into the power of influencers through social media. You’ll get mass reach very quickly because people will be talking about your product through social channels."
4 more homegrown disruptors
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Oliver’s Real Food
A healthy road trip pit stop that has turned the highway services model on its head.
An Australian start-up creating an entirely new economy, Airtasker lets you outsource all sorts of jobs from household chores to collecting your dry cleaning.
Set to disrupt the current (but outdated) centralised energy and water infrastructure model, Presync helps developers and communities implement efficient and environmentally positive local infrastructure.