The ride-hailing business is one of the most competitive globally – since Uber revolutionized the way we commute, enabling users to easily find transport via its app. Since then the industry has sprouted numerous startups offering the same service, most notably China’s Didi Chuxing, the second largest ride-hailing company in the world.
However, an ambitious startup from SiliconValley is looking to break this dominance and is not afraid to take on both giants, at the same time. TTgo, the latest ride-hailing app developed by US venture capitalist Tian Tian Ventures, is set to launch in March this year inChina, while back home in the US, its ride-hailing business is quickly gaining traction in the local markets, rivaling Uber in the tech-savvy region ofSilicon Valley. To usurp both giants, TTgo could learn a few strategies from past events.
Between 2011 and 2014, Uber’s value jumped from US$60 million to US$17 billion as it expanded into 100 cities across NorthAmerica, Europe, India, China, and Southeast Asia. However, in Asia, the ride-hailing giant didn’t expect such robust resistance from Grab, a tiny start-up from Singapore as well as Didi Chuxing, China’s own version of Uber.
Uber’s strategy involved scaling up rapidly and amassing as many users and subscribers as it could in the shortest possible time. The US company was not, however, actively working with authorities to conform to local regulations and was not localizing its services to suit the market. This caused many difficulties with the regulatory framework and local user acceptance. Tian Tian Ventures, on the other hand, seems determined not to follow in their footsteps.
“The first thing we made sure was that we were fully compliant with the regulations in China; we will be working very closely with local firms to ensure our operations are in line with the regulations as well as ensuring maximum safety for both drivers and passengers”,said Benjamin Berger, Tian Tian Ventures’ CEO.
The US firm had recently announced its partnership with Landun Equipment Group, a Chinese military technology group, who will provide TTgo with security expertise as well as military trained drivers to ensure passenger safety.
“We are well aware of the potential pitfalls in entering the Asian markets. Our top priority will be to protect our passengers as well as drivers, and the local partnerships are the foundation to our plans,” explained Berger.
Hyper-localization is the keyword for TTgo; In China, Tian Tian Ventures has partnered with various Chinese firms which will help TTgo provide localized services that will “help boost user acceptance levels” and possibly expand the spectrum of services that it provides. For now, the focus in on capturing a significant portion of the $61 billion industry.
“Every city is different, even within the same country,” Berger added. “Therefore, you need to understand all those nuances to serve your customers better. We will partner with local firms in various states in order to help us achieve that.”
TTgo is primed to launch in China in March this year, with more than 10,000 vehicles planned for its first year, signifying the beginning of, quite possibly, the most exciting development in the ride-hailing industry this year.