Critical mass in a network market of taxi-booking app

In strategy thinking, especially in network market, it is essential to gain critical mass and become a market dominant. For taxi-booking app, there is no standardization. For example, you can find GrabTaxi or EasyTaxi on Android, iOS and Window phone.

It is about changing human behaviors, to use technology to make their life more comfort and convenience. The question is how to change? When you start small, of course, few people know about your existence. To be recognized, it is better to form a strategic alliances with a strong reputation partner. In Ho Chi Minh, Vinasun and Mai Linh are the big taxi operators, yet the former has a bigger market share. Why would they prefer to form a partnership with a small taxi-booking app? They can operate more efficient and stay ahead from the market with the help of technology. More and more people own a smartphone with 3G connection. The digital age generation is the demanding and impatient customers who want to control time and get access to resources quickly. That is what a taxi-booking app can do because it connects customers with drivers just a click away. Everything is operated based on data and numbers, so it is easy and cost-saving to hand over the customer service job and operation job to a taxi-booking app. Both Vinasun and Mai Linh could focus their capital on investing in recruitment, training and buying new cars.

In addition, imagine that you can see taxi running around the city with logo either GrabTaxi or EasyTaxi on their doors, it makes the app become more visible and gradually increase awareness among users. The more you see and heard about something, the more you remember. It would be fun and curious to know about how frequent the logo of Grab or Easy appears on the cab’s door. Next time, when you want to a cab, you just remember whether it is a Grab or an Easy. Don’t have to remember a long list of phone number, for example 38.27.27.27 (Vinasun) and 38 38 38 38 (Mai Linh). On the top of that, an app is free to download and only Internet connection is required to do the booking, no more fee for calling.

What is behind the curtain of merger and acquisition?

In business world, to be a competitive player in the field, once your company shifts from a start-up phase (an infant phase) to a mature phase, you should consider whether it is time to grow organically or inorganically. Organic growth means that you grow slowly from the inside while inorganic growth, also known as merger and acquisition, is another way to make your company become big and powerful by forming a partnership or acquiring other firms.

Growing should go together with profit. It is unwise to expand your business without making profit. Growth and profit are two terms that go hand-in-hand together. However, the profit driven from merger and acquisition of biggest technology companies is a hidden treasure. Looking closely to those incredible big acquisition, you might wonder where the profit is.

The acquisition of Whatsapp in the beginning of 2014 is a concrete example. When the news first leaked out, every title of newspaper was mostly about the purchasing price that Facebook paid. How lucky Whatsapp was to be acquired with 19 billion dollars! What a big price to pay! Then, it is time to question about why Facebook should acquire Whatsapp. To stay ahead from the competition, it is crucial to acknowledge the trends and make your competitors to be your partners instead of a threatening rival force. On the other hand, the pricy acquisition will help Facebook become a powerful player in even a mobile platform. It is a shortcut to be a big brother in another field without spending much time to develop the technology or platform. Moreover, it is an easy way to get access to the latest technology of your ex-competitors.

For technological companies, when deciding to grow through acquisition, it is the culture and vision, not the earnings and revenue, that are of paramount importance. Is that the story? Of course not. It is the matter of staying ahead and recognizing future trends so that you could take a first jump. That is the Eureka moment for most tech companies, to be a leader of trend instead of a follower.

How could GrabTaxi stay ahead of the competition using gamification?

When talking about taxi-booking app, there are 3 big names coming in to mind. Uber, GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi. Of course, they are in a harsh competition for growing and surviving. As for Uber, this app is aimed to provide a luxury ride in expensive car. On the other hand, GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi are for the mass who have a high need of using taxi with a reasonable price and convenience in their ride. Who would stay ahead in the competition? Actually, these two apps are almost the same, even with their promoting campaign in Vietnam. Is there any fresh idea to make the game sound more exciting to play?

Absolutely yes! These apps intend to change human behaviors, firstly driver’s attitude. To sit in a car driving customers around the city all day long, to work under pressure when the gasoline price escalate like sky rocket, or to drive around desperately to look for customers, these are things faced by taxi drivers. Why not make their life a little easier by making their work like a game?

First, for one good behavior or a nice experience with a particular ride, customers could give a driver a yellow star, otherwise, the driver will receive a red star for warning. Three red stars mean “Game over”. That driver will be forbidden to be in GrabTaxi community for 6 months, for example. So, when you do good, what can you get? The more yellow stars, the more incentives you get. For 5 yellow stars within a day, you can have 10% discount for a car wash or car maintenance in a good garage. Taking care of drivers as much as you can.

Besides, don’t forget your dear customers. Most of the time, I don’t have any redeem or discount for being a regular taxi-taker. I will be happy to get a discount of 5% when i use GrabTaxi five times a week. If I spend time give customers feedback about taxi drivers, with each comment, i will earn a point which i can later use as a discount. With a constructive feedback which is upvoted by a large number of people, I will get an incentive.

Everyone knows using an app to call a taxi is more convenient, faster, and safer. Still, it is hard to get drivers sign in and customers get in. Perhaps, it is the question of switching cost. How attractive is your utility and goody which can make customers and drivers switch from EasyTaxi to GrabTaxi?

Grabtaxi: A smooth or challenging international growth strategy

GrabTaxi is a growing taxi-booking service in South East Asia. They use a unique model, a simple mobile application to connect drivers and consumers.

Currently, they have expanded their business to about 16 countries in South East Asia. At a first look at their business, personally I think, they use a global strategy at which they focus more on gaining efficiency due to the pressure of lowering cost while the stress of local adaptation is completely ignored. It is not completely true because they have to adjust their algorithm, writing a new map when they go to a new country. Although it is a minor change in technology, they have to adapt their mobile application in a new market. Thus, it is more transnational strategy at which more concentration on efficiency and local adaptation. However, to survive in a new market, it is an essential key to know your customers by hand.

Why it is matter to know your local customers? Different people living in different places have a different requirement for a same service. GrabTaxi aims at changing human behaviors, the same greatest challenge for all Taxi-booking apps. How to move the drivers to a street hail to an e-hail? Currently, GrabTaxi has an only function for customer’s feedback about their drive. I wonder whether the feedback is sufficient enough to increase customer experience. I’m thinking about a gamified add-on, for example, one good comments will add one point for a driver. Those drivers who accumulate highest score on the leader board of each month will receive yellow stars. With each star, the reliability of the driver will increase, and it means getting more customers. 

Although they are in rapidly fast growth, they are not making money in all the markets. Anthony Tan, CEO of GrabTaxi disclosed on a CNBC show that they only make money in some mature markets, such as Kualar Lampua and Manila. This might be considered as an advantage of growing big because GrabTaxi can spread risks to other markets.

What is on your worry plate?

Everyone has their own worry plate. By the time, you wake up because of a loud noise of your alarm or because of the warm sunlight outside your window; it is the moment that you will be flooded by things on your worry plate.

For parents who have small children, things on their worry would be how to complete a report in the last minute and send to their manager, how to make a quick and nutritious breakfast and get their children to school so that they could come to work on time, how to avoid a heavy traffic this morning, how to spend more time with their children while struggle with a bunch of new responsibilities from work, and the list will go on and on.

For unemployed and single people, they worry about how to polish their resume, how to learn new skills quickly, how to be more competent in the job market, and how to land a job quickly. Their only worry is getting a job, fulfilling their duties, learning new things at job, and being able to pay the bills.

For managers in all level, they worry about how to make their personnel more engage and more productive, how to create an operational excellence or an efficient customer care, how to update themselves, how to be known and increase their network size. Of course, the list will never end.

For entrepreneurs who have just start a new business, they worry about how to constantly improve their business, how to differentiate their products, how to compete in the market, how to grow their business, and how to make their company gain high performance. Growth is good when it brings profit to your business, and it will not overwhelm your people, process and controls by growing too fast. If growth is not properly managed, it will become a destructive growth. It will be as dangerous as a tornado which will suck you into its eye and tear you apart. A realistic question to be asked is how much growth you can afford at this moment? Should you grow horizontally by merger and acquisition or grow organically by focusing on internal development?

So, what is on your worry plate? How do you deal with them?

Turbo: A RACING snail

What do you think of snail? Slow. This is the very first word coming to my mind, together with an image of a snail. Yet, everything changes when I watch Turbo.

What is so interesting about this 3D cartoon? It is the script. Think of this, one day you are given a super power which can help you run amazingly fast. What would you do if one day you wake up and the power is gone? It sounds a bit negative, yet this scenario could happen at some extend. Do everything as your best since it could be the last day of you on Earth. It is true for an entrepreneur facing unknown and deadly risks. You can’t go to a battle with a losing attitude to get a real victory. The foggy path will not make you a loser, but your attitude towards it will do. Providing that you believe in yourself and do your best.

Sometimes, it seems easy to let oneself go and be defeated by our enemies. In the last track, Turbo lose his power and become a garden snail again. Fortunately, Chet, Turbo’s brother, put himself into an incredible danger to get to the racer to tell Turbo not to give up and encourage him to continue. In life, there are always downtime at which we seem to abandon everything and retreat into our shell. None has reach glorious victory without being defeated once to twice. A real hero is the one who can stand up and continue the race although he is partially hurt due to the accident. Besides, it is the time to evaluate your values and be surrounded with real friends and supporters so that they could make your recovery faster.

Online gourmet searching: Is it time for an innovation?

Back in 2012, it might have been a glorious time for Foody.vn. An online gourmet search which was invested by CyberAgent. What now?

Food is something which brings us energy. Then, with the development, human turns food into an art. Gradually, food attach to social events. For example, you can’t have a huge birthday party with exquisite good food, but sadly, none can find the place where you hold your party. Too isolated or too complicated to reach.

Looking back at searching best food location, what do you think of this old idea? When you bring many options on table, it is extremely hard to decide which one to choose. Besides, will the customers come back for more? Or they just drop by once for curiosity or an urge to try something new.

When the world is full of options and choices, customers will come to find the one which suits them best. What makes you stand out from the competition? The food, the location or the promotion? Why not think in a new box? Make it simple, sometimes people only need to find a place for hanging out. There are many places, such as coffee shops or small dinning places, in Ho Chi Minh City. Some come up with a very good theme in decoration or an distinguish atmosphere for informal gathering. The thing is people haven’t known about the existence of these places. Then, there come a solution. Everyone using smart phone with Internet connection. What if they could do a simple search to find a great place near them with assistance from a mobile application? When geographic distance becomes an itchy issue due to the non-stop escalating price of gasoline, a near-by location will be a good choice. It even saves time for commuting to the desired place when you can reach some place better just a few miles away. Try something new and simple. Why not? It costs you nothing. Besides, it also triggers your sense of exploration. I guess it is the reason of the birth of Tomago.vn. It is an old problem with new solution.

Tomago.vn: Think in new boxes

In a digital age, everything can be searched through the Internet. Have you ever driven yourself crazy because you could not find a perfect place to eat at weekend? After a long week, you want to have a break from work, simply hanging around with friends at a cool and relaxing place. It could be a nicely-decorated coffee shop, or a place with good food or dessert.

As a user, what kind of information will you need? Location, price, customers review, and promotion. Perhaps, it is the old trend now.

Tomago.vn might be a new solution to an old problem of search location. However, they tackle the problem in a new perspective which offer users more utility and goody. As an early adopter, will you switch from a big guy like Foody.vn to Tomago.vn. The switching cost is rather low for consumers. You just try a new mobile application for searching. If you don’t like, you can switch back. It does not cost you a penny. Yet, it costs a fortune to Foody or Tomago.

What is so interesting about Tomago?

For customers, it is easy to obtain shop’s Wifi password by tap and paste. Don’t need to go around and asking staffs for a password. Is it nice to have your need solved in a smart way? Then, you can check out the menu, price, and imaging of the shop which is near you. It is more convenient for users to have a glance at the shop first. What if you have a small pocket? Of course, it is not a good choice to go to a luxury or high-class restaurants with a limited budget. Lastly, it provides a convenient way to keep track with loyalty program. Tik is a function for storing your bill.

For shop owners, events announcement gives shop owners a place for you to posting event news. Ordering through mobile application is a way to lower bureaucracy procedure. Quick deal perhaps is a special promotion offering by restaurants.

Is there any risks to invest in this project?

 

A journey to the park

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Normally, people do their morning exercise by walking or jogging in the park. At the place I live, to get to the park is one main problem.

Getting out of my house, and go toward the nearby park could take couple of minutes. Yet, the journey seems longer and not enjoyable if the final destination is the park. I have to do both, looking ahead to steer for direction and looking down to stay away from pot holes or dog shit, or even garbage. Next, crossing the street in the morning, when sky is still dark and foggy, trucks, big cards and motorbikes are as big as monsters. They will get you when you least expect. Therefore, the act of crossing the street may sound simple, yet it hinders danger. Who knows the next truck coming will run over me because of the sleepy driver? Or I am frighten because of the loud horn from an impatient car driver, and I feel lost in a second. Just in that moment, I am not aware of a coming bike, and bang I am down on the street, motionless.

Even if I cross the street safely, i still have a long way to go. Passing by a restaurant of traditional Chinese breakfast is a temptation. The delicious aroma is as strong as an invisible string which tight my foot together. Then, in a moment, i find myself sitting nicely at a table and start my order.

If I can resist all the temptation of good food, I still feel lonely when walking around alone in the park. The only amusement thing I could do is playing a game with myself, counting how many women or men I walk pass. What do they wearing? Are they stylish? Are they rich? Searching around for a pretty guy who is also alone as I am. Or simply, enjoy the fresh air, appreciate the greenness of nature, or looking up on the blue, big sky.

I have no clue how long I haven’t been to the park for a walk. Laziness, loneliness and a lack of motivation tight me down at home. I satisfy with my Yoga practice every morning at home. It is simple. Just warm myself up, lie down on a mattress, move my legs and arms slowly and start breathing.