Toronto-based CellWand released an app this week that might calm the nerves of a nation collectively freaking out over Uber.
Called The Ride, the app is an on-demand taxi service. Unlike Uber, however, The Ride has partnered with taxi fleets across the country, connecting directly to over 6,000 licensed drivers (another 3,000 will be added soon) via ehail, and another 25,000 via the taxi fleets’ dispatch networks. The partnerships allow CellWand to offer nationwide service while Uber operates in only a handful of cities across Canada.
Let’s face it: at this point, the taxi companies could use all the help they can get.
CellWand is notably the company behind the #TAXI service (pound, not hashtag), which has been used over 12 million times by Canadians to help find the first available cab. CellWand CEO Nick Quain told BetaKit that it was that longstanding relationship which enabled the company to connect so many local fleets. “We’ve been around in the taxi industry for a long time,” Quain said. “5 years ago they looked at us and they were a little weary,” but CellWand was able win trust one fare at a time. “They know we’re good at marketing.”
And let’s face it: at this point, the taxi companies could use all the help they can get. “They can’t rely on the regulators to save their business model,” Quain said.
While CellWand is backing the institutional player (hypothetical enemy of startups everywhere!), Quain is quick to note that the company is not in their pocket. “We’re an honest broker,” he said. “We don’t get paid by the cab companies, we work for the consumer.”
My @BeckTaxi: couldn't find me for pickup despite exact address, no working seatbelt, took $4 detour thru closed Ex grounds. Not @uber_tor.
— Jamie-Leigh 👋🏼 (@JamieLeighTO) December 15, 2015
It does mean, however, that while CellWand can leverage the benefits of its taxi partnership – a “massive infrastructure of insured, licensed drivers,” as Quain put it – The Ride is also tied to traditional taxi complaints: service and price (CellWand adds $1 to $2 on top of the fare price, but promises no surge pricing).
Which is perhaps why The Ride also features a transit component, sourcing real-time info for buses, streetcars, subways, and car-sharing services like car2go and Zipcar. Quain told me the intent was to make The Ride the best overall choice, no matter where you’re going or how you want to get around.”
“It stretches across multiple demographics,” he said.