January was a good month for Taxibeat. There’s people sharing the love all over the globe, we are breaking all sorts of records in terms of daily rides and… we ‘ve got a new version in the market.
Welcome to Taxibeat version 3.0. Quicker. Easier. Sleeker.
New menu on the left
The new menu slides from left to right or appears when the top-left button is pushed. The flexibility of the new menu (and all the new real estate) will enable us to introduce new functionality more easily.
It is now easier than ever to input the pick-up address. Press the ‘Address Book’ icon on the top right, and you ‘ll get to choose from Recents (places you ‘ve hailed a cab from before), Bookmarks (your very favorite pick-up spots: bookmark a Recent address by clicking on the bookmark icon on its left), Contacts (you ‘ll see addresses associated with people/businesses on your smartphone Contacts) …
…Don’t know the exact address of the movie theater/restaurant/bar/metro station you want to hail a cab from? Easy-peasy, hail the cab from a Foursquare venue.
What we removed
You speak, we listen. Or, to be more precise: you don’t use, we withdraw. The ‘Share your Ride’ screen after the rating screen seemed to get to you. We removed it once and for all. Fewer taps to complete your ride – yay.
Bug fixes etc
Bug fixes as per usual and an important notice: we no longer support iOS 4. People who still use iOS 4 (why?) please upgrade to a later version before downloading Taxibeat 3.0.
We hope you ‘ll enjoy using Taxibeat as much as we enjoyed making it. Always looking forward to your feedback.
We are kicking off our 6th city; and what a city! The City of Lights. After 3 months of all-nighters, a fleet of 250+ taxi drivers is ready to drive you around Paris, Taxibeat style.
There are no words to describe how excited we are; Paris is the first Taxibeat launch we ‘ve monitored so closely, and it has been a great (and very educational) experience for all of us. The feedback we ‘ve been getting from Parisian drivers and passengers indicates that coming to Paris was one of our best ideas. Some people said “Taxibeat was made for Paris”; we are looking forward to proving them right.
Parisian drivers are actively supporting us; even though we haven’t officially launched, they remain “Available” – we can’t possibly explain the joy of seeing 32-35 drivers online before even launching. These are numbers we wouldn’t dream of in previous launches. We are positive we will eventually conquer Paris. In a city where it’s next to impossible to hail a taxi, we expect Taxibeat France will get really popular, really quick.
Our official premiere is today, in the context of LeWeb. Come by our booth and say hi if you ‘re around. Do you have any friends that live in Paris? We are giving away free rides to test our service; email as at email@example.com and get an invite for a taxi ride on the house.
A couple of days ago, our team in Brazil sent us a video they created in view of Taxibeat Brasil‘s launch in its second Brazilian city, Sao Paulo. The video looked good; happy drivers, happy passengers, featuring the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro.
It was not until we watched the subtitled version of the video that we could grasp just how big this video was for us. We were REALLY moved, teary-eyed-kind-of-moved.
We knew that these were unscripted testimonials from Brazilian taxistas and passengers; so I guess we were thrilled by the striking similarity of what these guys were saying on the video, with the glorious feedback we ‘ve been getting from drivers and passengers in Athens for the past 18 months. It was an epiphany: there is something about Taxibeat, something that makes people happy in the very same way, no matter which side of the pond they live in.
Why is Taxibeat different?
Hailing a taxi on the street is akin to waving down a stranger. Traditional taxi co-ops and most other taxi-hailing apps will get you a taxi (at a premium) but they will not let you choose your driver. In both cases, there is no incentive for the driver to provide a GREAT service, as they are unlikely to see the same passenger again; when there is little or no prospect of repeat custom for the service provider, mediocre or bad service is the norm and there is no room for the kind of strategy that builds loyalty in other industries.
Taxibeat drivers know the only way to a 5* rating is always walking the extra mile for their customers; being courteous, waiting for them to safely enter their homes, offering on-board amenities like WiFi, TV, magazines. This feedback enables drivers to further improve the quality of their service: a 5* rating increases their chance of getting picked again from other Taxibeat passengers; so there’s your virtuous circle.
Watching the video from Brazil reminded us that we ‘ve built something that is meant to improve people’s lives. Think about it; getting to work with a driver that makes your day.
This is a great GREAT week for Taxibeat – after launching in Sao Paulo on Monday, today is our premiere in Oslo, Norway! We are excited beyond words!
The Taxibeat Norge team has worked tremendously hard to this day. The feedback we ‘ve been getting to date from passengers and taxisjåfører is glorious.
We are positive that in Oslo (our 5th city – go Taxibeat!) we ‘ll manage to bring about the same kind of change we managed in Athens and Rio de Janeiro; we ‘ll change the way people move around their cities.
Taxibeat Norge is already hosted on www.vg.no, Norway’s largest portal and on the popular Dine Penger magazine.
If you happen to visit Oslo, we ‘ll be happy to move you around Taxibeat-style; thanks to Taxibeat’s roaming feature, you ‘ll be able to use the app in all countries seamlessly.
After an immensely successful launch in Rio de Janeiro in July 2012, we realized that there really is something about Taxibeat and Brazil; we decided to move quickly and expedit our Brazilian expansion. A couple of months later, thanks to the hard work of our team in Brazil, we are ready to launch Taxibeat in a second brazilian city; and what a city!
As of today, you can find Taxibeat in the largest city in the southern hemisphere (and 7th largest metropolis in the world), Sao Paulo. Having experienced the palpable enthusiasm of passengers and taxistas alike in Rio de Janeiro, we can only be confident that Taxibeat will be tremendously successful in Sao Paulo, too.
The following is a guest post by Maria Doxa. Maria, and Marina Stasinopoulou, are the architects that designed and oversaw the interior decoration of our new Athens headquarters. In this post Maria analyzes the core philosophy behind their work for us, along with it’s “timeline” from start to finish. All we here at Taxibeat want to say a big thank you to both for an excellent job. They influenced us in ways more than meets the eye.
Marina and I still jokingly talk about designing the office while TAXI-ing from place to place, during a period when we each traveled many miles a week… a few by taxi, some by train, most by plane or boat.
So it was, we started our design journey collecting stimuli to connect the work environment of Taxibeat with concepts and emotions relating to the movement of people. We started thinking of the experience of navigating cities from the point of view of the passenger and the taxi driver, attempting to analyse their perception of time and space whilst they move.
The urban realm served as our conceptual platform, not just for the selection of materials and visual themes, but, primarily, for the spatial configuration of workspaces. We studied the empty, single-volume space on 11, Sina street and the detailed building program that Nikos provided, and tuned into the dynamics of the Taxibeat team as an organisation in flux: informal, friendly atmosphere, direct communication, creativity, in prompt interactions, innovation and teamwork, as well as a need for concentration and introverted time.
We organised all workspaces – private and shared ones – and the brainstorm room around the work lounge, a space freely available to everyone to use –both visitors and employees. In open plan arrangement to the lobby, customer support and kitchen-dining areas, and directly visible and accessible from all workspaces, the work lounge metaphorically references the city square: It becomes a common point of reference, shaping opportunities for spatial co-presence, chance encounters and creative interactions.
Attempting to relate the work environment to its impact in the outside world, we were led into processing the concept of dual perception: the subjective visual reality of the person navigating the streets and, at the same time, the “panoptic” (bird’s eye view) perception enabled by contemporary technology.
Imagining the office space as an extension of the urban landscape, we introduced textures, colours, images and graphics inspired by the urban realm:
Carpet flooring was chosen to visually echo road tarmac and designed to have imprinted on it tyre tracks referencing vehicular movement.
Interior surfaces of perimeter walls looking out to the street were rendered with rough-textured paint, relating to building facades.
Party walls where wallpapered throughout with large-scale abstract images of scenes from life in Athens by photographer Sylvia Diamantopoulos, with a traffic graph of tweets from the company’s first year of operation, and, last but not least, with graffiti created on site after hours by artist Laline Pierrakos.
Partition walls between singular office spaces were conceived as free-standing panels. On them, we designed interpretative maps and charts using data from the Taxibeat app, to depict ‘panoptic’ readings of the city of information, enabled by GIS technology. (Many thanks to Vasilis Grammatikos and Konstantinos Koryllos for their invaluable help in geoprocessing the data!)
Adhesive membranes, imprinted with our design of the skyline of an imaginary metropolis made up of characteristic landmarks and various city parts, were installed on the glass partitions, to partially filter visual communication between spaces.
Following Nikos’ suggestion, partitions in the brainstorm room and his office were converted into full-size whiteboards – using white enamel paint – for the visual communication of ideas. Similarly, columns and locker doors were painted with blackboard paint: a constantly changing creative graffiti.
Nikos was engaged in the creative process from the start. The first plural form throughout this post, subconsciously refers to more than Marina and myself… The fact that we were able to issue plans to begin construction a week into the project, was largely due to the clarity of the building program and requirements Nikos provided us with. His research on technology companies’ office culture enhanced our design process. We felt lucky, realising from the start his already formed in-depth understanding of the effect of spatial design on the well-being, productivity and creativity of the people who use it daily. Rarely do our clients commit to our carrying through the design concept from start to finish… so, this must have been, without exaggeration, one of the best collaborations we’ve had so far.
Not to say that there haven’t been any doubts in this process… especially during the most un-charming phases of construction! But if for one or two out of the ten suggestions we made, Nikos was skeptical or negative, this became a challenge for us to go beyond the idea, making the final outcome better than the original proposal.
It was not always an easy journey. A small budget and a tight timeframe… Some features (such as the digital projection on the floor of the lobby) were not implemented, at least not yet. And for many of our ideas we had to find alternative, cheaper ways. The carpet is the best example: we imagined printed traces of car tracks on it, but to order this manufactured was way out of budget. Rather than abandoning the idea, we went for a handmade solution: installing a plain carpet in tones of asphalt, we asked artist Laline Pierrakos to imprint tyre marks on site. And so, on a Saturday morning, after many trials of different kinds of paint and tests of track paths, Laline rolled old tires ‘dirtied’ with anthracite paint on the brand new carpet… (To see Laline in action, you can watch the video below).
As for the timetable… well, the final stages of construction took place after the team had already moved into its new space! Timos Zaverdinos, the most conscientious and impeccable cabinetmaker we have come across, while assembling all the custom-made wooden furniture, became a regular in the office. But so did we! And it worked to our benefit. While overseeing the works, we had the opportunity to be hosted on site and experience the office environment first hand. Trying out all workspaces one by one, while designing the graphics for their solid and glass partitions, we got to know the members of the team better and ended up designing both for- and with- them.
Spyros’ practical, analytical way of thinking, more than just inspiring the infographics for the wall of his own office, helped us fine-tune a series of details. And should we not mention the choice of Waterman’s butterfly world map projection on the entrance wall bearing the company’s logo‚ which is in effect his idea? Marina and I had proposed a different map projection, but Spyros’ enthusiasm about Waterman’s butterfly map (ref. xkcd by Randall Munroe) got us convinced to implement this one. Using a router, we carved on a marine plywood panel the outline and meridians of the butterfly map, then ‘voided’ the continents using a laser cutter, and replaced them with a metal plate fixed behind the panel. On it, custom-made miniature magnets are held in place, indicating the cities around the world Taxibeat is expanding to. (We truly wish for the map to fill up with magnets!)
There is no reception desk by the entrance of Taxibeat’s office. So when Agni and Electra had difficulty seeing from their customer support workstations if the person entering the office was a visitor requiring their assistance or not, we added on the column across their seats a panoramic road mirror, so that by raising their eyes from the screen, they would be able to see in reflection the entrance door.
One thing led to another: the panoramic road mirror on the column helped us complete the last map – the one intended for Nikos’ wall. We were nearing ten variations, but, despite its strong concept, there still seemed to be something missing. Discussing about it on site, looking at the road mirror fixed in the backdrop, we had a little epiphany: to process the aerial photo of Athens city, centred around Sina street as if through a magnifying lens, equal in size and all to the mirror on the column. The magnifying lens completes the wall map, by ‘zooming’ on the detailed journeys made by Taxibeat team members’ within a set 24-hour interval.
At times, feedback worked in reverse as well, to simplify the original scheme: As we were sampling accent colours for the walls, Nick Damilakis told us how important minimising contrast between computer screen and wall background is to him. So we reduced the wall colour palette around workspaces to make the environment more relaxing.
As for Kostis… well, we often thought of kidnapping and recruiting him for our other projects, as his ideas on furniture design and graphics are just … way out there!!! We have refrained from doing so just yet, so he is still to be found on his corner desk by the Skoufa street window. But we are hoping to consult both him and Michalis for Taxibeat’s next office project!
I could go on for many pages more… Every detail comes with a short story… But I think I’ll stop here. At the end of the day, designing Taxibeat’s new home in Athens was all about creative teamwork and enthusiasm and we think (hope!) these are the values and feelings that the space conveys.
note: All photographs of the office in the slideshow, as well as the full-wall images within the space, were taken by Sylvia Diamantopoulos. Thank you so much Sylvia for your very unique work!
Taxibeet was officially launched in Bucharest earlier today! (no, this is not a typo, Taxibeat Romania is commercially known as Taxibeet*). Taxibeet was presented on George Buhnici’s show, one of the most popular Romanian talk shows. After Rio de Janeiro during the summer, Bucharest is our second international expansion and we are as excited as we could be.
We are quite certain that Taxibeet will sweep Bucharest off its feet. The feedback we ‘ve been getting so far is great, and our Romanian team is truly amazing; they ‘ve more than walked the extra mile for this launch Taxibeet and their hard work will soon be rewarded.
It will be our pleasure to drive you around Taxibeat-style next time you are in Bucharest; roaming works smoothly so you can just use the app you ‘ve already downloaded (otherwise click -here for iPhone and here for Android- to download).
Next Taxibeat stop – soon. Let’s rock Bucharest!
* Funny story: before getting ready for the Bucharest launch, we were completely oblivious to what ‘beat’ means in Romanian (hint: it means wasted drunk). So Taxibeat would be loosely translated as ‘TipsyTaxi’, not a great name for a taxi marketplace app, I am sure you ‘ll agree. So for Romania only, Taxibeat was renamed to Taxibeet!
A shiny new version of Taxibeat is now available for iPhone and Android in Greece and Brazil. It features important enhancements that will make your Taxibeat experience even better:
1) New drivers’ list: Taxibeat’s core and unique feature, the list of drivers, now has two variants:
-”Simple” list presents the most important bits of driver information that are required for making a choice:
-”Expanded” list presents all available driver information:
The user can choose the variant that suits her most using the buttons on top. The application “memorizes” user choice, and displays the same variant on the next search for a taxi.
(Tip: you can also switch between alternative list types by using a gesture… who amongst our expert users will discover it first?)
2) Response Rate: Probably the single most important new feature of this version. In the “expanded” list you can now see the driver’s response rate, meaning the percentage of calls that he accepted and served. So, if you don’t like rejections (who likes them anyway?), you can now choose the most “responsive” drivers and be served right away. The choice is in your hand.
(note: the response rate is calculated using the 100 latest calls received by the driver)
3) New confirmation screen: After choosing your preferred driver, a graphics rich screen appears that summarizes all hailing information: Who you are about to hail, all information about him, and what the pickup address is going to be. If everything is OK, press the green button to hail the driver, if not press the red button to return to the drivers list for choosing another driver.
4) New services: You asked, we delivered:
Baby seat: An important step towards offering family-friendly taxi services.
Magazines/Newspapers: For an even better Taxibeat experience!
Additional to the above we improved the animation in the “Map View” (especially for Android phones), we redesigned the process of validating your phone with an SMS during registration (a pain for some of you – we apologize for that), and of course we removed a few bugs we discovered in the meantime.
We really hope this new version lives up to your expectations and make your trips in the city even better!
It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression “as wonderful as a taxi ride”*.
Looking at the distribution of ratings of Taxibeat rides, it shouldn’t be surprising if you heard someone in Rio de Janeiro or Athens use such an expression soon.
This is the aggregated experience of our users in tens of thousands of rides. Two out of three chose to rate their experience and thus help future users – 67%! – a far greater degree of participation compared to similar rating systems.
Simon Sinek argues that what matters is not what you do, is why you do it. This graph depicts why we do Taxibeat. It is our way of making people happy. Introduction of choice, transparency, meritocracy, disintermediation, access to information, openness, taste and hard work creates this results.
This is what motivates us, along with our belief that the good guys win in the end
Nargues Nicky Adle is the new community manager @Taxibeat Paris. She is practically heading our Paris offices and she is the one to make sure we will have a successful launch in the City of Light.
Nicky is an INSEAD & LSE alumnus and has been employed in several countries around the globe. She has also worked in Greece for a couple of years which means apart from her international flair, Nicky brings along a good understanding of Greek mentality and modus operandi.
At the same time, Nicky is a tech entrpreneur! She has founded her own start-up companies and is well aware what it feels like to create something out of nothing; one of many reasons why we believe she is a perfect match, mentality-wise, for Taxibeat France. We are thrilled to have her on board.