London taxi app Hailo has secured $17m (£10.6m) Series A funding, one of the largest first rounds of financing in Europe in recent times.
The smartphone-based application was co-founded by three technology entrepreneurs and three London cab drivers. It allows people to hail a cab with a couple of taps on their smartphone and is the largest app-based taxi network in any of the world’s cities.
Global venture capital firm Accel led the fundraising. The group, which focuses on innovative technology-focused businesses, has previously invested in some of the web’s biggest names, including Facebook, Kayak and Groupon.
Hailo CEO Jay Bregman said: “Hailo has rapidly transformed from an exciting concept to the world’s largest app-based personal transportation network in a single city and a force in putting dollars back into drivers’ pockets and saving customers time and hassle.
“In less than five months since the service was launched in London, more than 3,200 black cab drivers have registered with Hailo, carrying some 100,000 passengers. A Hailo cab is booked every minute of every day in London.”
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Bregman said Accel’s investment would allow Hailo to enhance its London network and take its strategy to North America and beyond. He added: “Hailo will bring the elite London cab experience to major US cities in 2012.”
Adam Valkin, a partner at Accel, said: “Over the past two years Hailo has demonstrated its ambition and execution capability by transforming a concept into the largest network of its kind. Our investment is a reflection of our confidence in the Hailo team and the opportunity ahead of them.”
The app has proved as popular with London’s taxi drivers as it has done with investors.
Licensed Taxi Drivers Association general secretary Steve McNamara said: “It is proving very popular with members. It is all positive – anything that puts bums on seats is good news.”
McNamara believes the app’s easy-to-use interface and the quality of service that Hailo provides has helped it appeal to a younger market.
“The combination of using the app and getting a proper, licensed cab to your door is good. A lot of people are finding it’s cheaper than using a minicab,” he said.
“Taxis in London are viewed as a quality service and people presume they cost more than minicabs, but what they are finding is that isn’t the case. For most journeys the cost is comparable, if not cheaper.”