Atlanta startup CabCents is bringing the name your price, Priceline model to ground transportation. Whether you need a sedan service, van service, ride to the airport or ride around town, using CabCents you name the service you need, and the price you want to pay and BOOM you’ve got a driver.
Not only that, but CabCents has a thorough screening process to insure that you’re getting a quality driver and you should have nothing to be afraid of.
There are several customer and driver protections built into the entire web based CabCents experience. A customer goes to the website CabCents.com and fills out an easy to understand driver request form.
Once they’ve completed the form, the request is broadcast to CabCents’ network of thoroughly screened drivers. The drivers can decide if they want to “bid” on the job by responding positively to the request. From there the customer can see pictures of the drivers and their vehicles, that responded positively to the request.
Once the customer picks a driver the entire payment is collected in full from the customer. The payment is essentially held in escrow until 24 hours after the job is completed, giving the customer ample time to notify CabCents of any problems. Provided the customer doesn’t report any problems the driver is paid.
We got a chance to talk to the CabCents team. Check out the interview below.
CabCents delivers friendly, neighborhood transportation alternatives protected by an in-depth driver screening process. Ever need a ride to the airport – but a taxi seemed too expensive? Or how about a van or truck to help you haul stuff around town…CabCents offers solutions to consumers that may not have transportation of their own.
CabCents disrupts this $8bn transportation space (2010 US Census Bureau statistic) by enabling consumers to set the price and pick from a list of pre-screened drivers – who may be everyday people simply looking for part time income.
CabCents.com was founded by Imran Ahmad and Faique Sayeed in 2012. Ahmad and Sayeed both come from management consulting backgrounds providing process, IT security, financial risk, and operational improvement consulting to Fortune 500 companies around the globe. Both are Atlanta natives and graduates of Georgia Tech and Emory respectively. The founders also bring prior start up experience in the healthcare technology and accounting automation fields in between corporate consulting gigs and the founding of CabCents.com.
CabCents.com is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta’s start up scene is hopping. There is a ton of energy in the city after a number of recent high profile acquisitions. Examples include Oracle’s $300 million acquisition of Vitrue and ExactTarget’s $95 million acquisition of Pardot. Both Vitrue and Pardot were well known Atlanta-based start-ups, and their acquisitions fuel inspiration for start-ups like CabCents.com. Atlanta is also home to some amazing tech incubators and resource pools like Georgia Tech’s FlashPoint, the Atlanta Technology Development Center, and the flurry of Hypepotemus hackathon and meet up events occurring nearly weekly. CabCents.com has been through the CapVenture program organized by the Technology Association of Georgia – in fact, we were a finalist in one of their smaller competition series – and met one of our key advisers as a result. In addition to new start-ups like CabCents.com, there are many start-ups coming out of the Atlanta market nearly every month.
We found ourselves traveling to the airport at least once a month as global management consultants prior to our role with CabCents.com. Yellow cabs in Atlanta are hard to find – you won’t find them curbside as you would in NYC or Chicago and black car limos got expensive and were getting harder to expense back to clients. We knew there had to be a better way. Following the success of terrific concepts by AirBnB, Uber, and ZipCar (now part of Avis), we knew that there had to be a community based, safe, neighborly approach to third party transportation. We knew that we had to find a way for customers to get rides from good, reliable people – like their neighbors – and legally offer donation-based compensation that’s fair and reasonable. At the same time, Atlanta has a large population of terrific people looking for part time, flexible work. CabCents.com was born after marrying these two groups together.
We wanted something easy to say and remember. So the word “Cab” evokes mental pictures around transportation, rides, local, and quick while “Cents” refers to money. But the twist is on the word “Cents” which you can interpret dually as “Sense”. So, the idea is to finally bring consumers a twist on local transportation options that make sense.
We help people get around town through a cost effective, safe, and fun transportation alternative. Traditionally speaking, curbside taxis are nearly non-existent in many middle tier markets like Atlanta and therefore hard to find. You have to “Google it” and then you have to figure out who to pick; the reviews left by other consumers on sites like Kudzu and Yelp are not encouraging to say the least. Black car limos are a terrific option but come at a high cost – typically at least twice the cost of taxis. We also solve the local delivery and courier dilemma. If you’re a business owner in cities like Atlanta and need documents delivered across town ASAP or if you are a homeowner and want to pick up second hand furniture from someone off Craigslist – you may not have the time or appropriate vehicle type to do all this yourself. Some part-time drivers on CabCents.com also have commercial driving licenses with large delivery trucks and courier vans for exactly this purpose. And they are ready to help get all kinds of stuff delivered around town for their fellow neighbors. We background check and pre-screen everyone so consumers can rest easy feeling as safe as can be.
Our secret sauce is our people. We’ve found some of the coolest people around town to be our part time drivers. We have one gentlemen who recently retired from a Fortune 500 company heading up European engineering operations in Belgium. He’s back home in Atlanta and simply wants to get out of his house, help out fellow neighbors get around town, and make some new friends in the process. We have retired teachers, vets, pet groomers – you never know who you’re going to meet when you book a ride at CabCents.com. Our people are our greatest asset and we love them. Without them CabCents.com is just an idea.
And, of course we cannot forget our development team. Our lead engineer just did a stint at the Stanford Research Institute and currently pursuing his doctorate. Other developers on team CabCents also fueled project work for high flying clients like Kayak.com and others.
We are funded and already in discussions with our advisers and investors for the next round of funding.
Our biggest milestones include completing and releasing version one and getting our first few rides under our belt. We’re testing various marketing avenues and learning every day. One of our biggest milestones was lining up and screening our first set of part time drivers! Finding the right fit was tough – but it was worth the vetting process.
We’re also really excited about our referral marketing program. Basically, both consumers and drivers alike get cash compensation for referring new riders to CabCents.com. It’s picking up steam! Another big milestone for us was lining up a top tier group of advisers. CabCents.com is a heavy consumer oriented business and we’ve brought on advisers from top tier marketing and PR firms.
Continue to increase our per/day ride metric as we continue to cultivate and spread our business model city by city across the US.
I can tell you two: inertia and the fear of learning from customers. Both are fairly inter-related! So fearing rejection is something all entrepreneurs go through – and you find yourself dragging your feet in getting out of the building and talking to prospective customers. But you have to do it and do it soon or you’ll simply build something no one understands or wants. Learn your customer’s problems – build scalable solutions – and then sell it like your life depended on it. These are challenges we go through every day and we’re learning so much about ourselves in the process. It’s a journey.
Our role models are our part time drivers. These people have taken the biggest risk of all by sharing their personal details in order for us to conduct thorough, in-depth background checks and interviews. They have never heard of CabCents.com nor us as the founders. However, they see the opportunity and they had the guts to seize it and jump in head first with us. Wow. Every time we feel the challenges of inertia and fear of rejection, we think about the risks our part time drivers took on us. That’s our inspiration along with giving consumers a safe, fun, fair, and easy way to get around town.
Our marketing, legal, and PR advisers have been incredible mentors. Each adviser is a clear expert in their respective field and have brought a sense of passion, scrutiny, and urgency that keeps us as founders on our toes. And they are chalk full of great ideas.
Our next chapter includes expanding our city base while increasing our per-city ride metrics. We are constantly hunting for new marketing channels to convert into quality traffic into CabCents.com and we iterate daily on our product.