Startup Showcase: Karhoo

This week we hear from Daniel Ishag, CEO of cab comparison app Karhoo, about his startup and its ambitions

Each week we profile a tech startup, find out more about their business and what its plans are for the future. This week, we speak to Daniel Ishag, CEO of cab comparison app Karhoo

What is your company and what do you do?

Karhoo is the cab comparison and booking app that has signed up 500,000 licensed taxis and private hire cars around the world, offering consumers more choice and drivers the opportunity of more work.

We are a vendor neutral platform that allows passengers to compare cabs available to book in their area by price, proximity and vehicle style. The app then lets passengers book days, weeks or months in advance or choose immediate pickup with their preferred cab company, giving both local and national operators access to thousands more customers.

Daniel Ishag, Karhoo Founder and CEOWe are changing the landscape of the on-demand transport industry forever. We will be in 30 cities by the end of the year and 100 within a year.

I am the founder and CEO of Karhoo.

Tell us a bit about your career to date

Before Karhoo, I started a few other companies. I have been described as a “serial entrepreneur”. I haven’t come from an academic background so whenever I’ve had an idea, I’ve just gone for it. I believe entrepreneurship is the most exciting job in the world.

Prior to Karhoo, I set up Espotting, the world’s first search marketing advertising network where we pioneered pay per click advertising. We eventually exited in a deal worth $183m after a merger with NASDAQ listed

After that, I spotted an opportunity to change the way that water was managed on a global scale and founded Bluewater Bio, which quickly became Europe’s leading independent water technology company and global specialist in cost-effective and innovative water and wastewater treatment.

What services or products do you offer and how will businesses and/or consumers benefit?

I have always believed that businesses have a responsibility to make a positive impact and Karhoo brings choice to consumers and empowers existing businesses to compete by levelling the playing field.

We are a market place for hundreds of licensed and accredited fleets, allowing people to pick their cab by price, proximity, fleet, or style. You can book for immediate pick up or up to a year in advance. Also, as we expand around the world, you will be able to book all your rides in one go, even when travelling abroad.

Consumers get more choice on one app than they have ever had before and fleets get the opportunity of more work. Within several weeks of launching in London, fleets were telling us that revenue had increased 30 per cent and they were having to rehire drivers to cope with demand.

Say one thing your company does that no one else can do?

We level the playing field. That is a powerful, universal proposition. Consumers have more choice of more cars around the world. Also, because Karhoo signs up fleets, not individual drivers, we are more scalable and offer cars not just in the centre of towns, but in the outskirts as well, giving people the chance to support their local company.

Where is the company based and why?

We have offices in London, New York, LA, Miami, Singapore and Israel.  Our HQ is in New York but all the tech was built in London.

How big is your company and what are your technology demands?

I would think that we are one of the fastest growing tech companies in the UK. We now have more than 200 people working in five offices. Our innovative, proprietary technology integrates the systems of every fleet and, as you can imagine, this can be of varying quality and design, which makes what we do so interesting.

Where do you see your company in five years?

Karhoo, the new cab comparison app, launches in London, giving passengers more choice

We will be the app of choice in every major city around the world. In five years there may even be autonomous cars on the roads, and therefore, on our app.

When you book a holiday, or are working abroad, you will automatically book your Karhoo from home to the airport, from the airport to the hotel, to a meeting, etc,

How can the UK government help startups in the UK and will Brexit have any impact?

The United Kingdom Trade Investment’s Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP), is doing an amazing job in attracting entrepreneurs to the UK and helping those that are starting here. Brexit has not had a negative impact for us but there will be companies that will struggle because of it. However, I believe that entrepreneurs will always find a way to make something work. When challenges present themselves, that is when the fun starts.

Which tech company do you admire and why?

I’ve long been an admirer of Kayak, the massively successful flight, hotel and car hire fare aggregator and search engine. Their proposition, based on choice, combined with their strong brand is a winning combination. They are a positive disruptor, which is always a good thing.