Mark Allewell resurrects Zapacab as white label taxi hailing solution

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South African startup Zapacab is set for relaunch as a white label mobile taxi hailing solution for meter taxis after it was acquired by Tourism Radio founder Mark Allewell.

Zapacab – which took part in the first 88mph accelerator programme in Cape Town – first launched in 2013 with a similar business model to that of Uber. It even briefly established operations in Nairobi, Kenya, but closed in the middle of last year after failing to scale.

Allewell, meanwhile, departed location-based audio travel app producer Tourism Radio at the beginning of 2014 in order to take a one-year sabbatical, which he spent travelling around the world. He has now purchased Zapacab, and is relaunching it with an updated business model.

The new Zapacab is a white label mobile taxi hailing solution aimed at assisting meter taxi operators to compete with Uber, and Allewell said he hoped it would follow the example of Tourism Radio by expanding into international markets.

“Much like their counterparts in France and Germany, local taxi operators have been caught off-guard by apps like Uber and Lyft. We will now level the playing field and offer these established operators a mobile platform from which they can compete on a technological level with up-and-coming market disruptors,” he said.

Zapacab’s white label offering allows users to download the mobile app of their preferred taxi service to an iOS or Android mobile device. They can then hail the nearest taxi or request their favourite driver using their GPS location, while being able to plan their route and ensure they are paying a fair price for every taxi ride.

Taxi operators will be given full control of their own self-branded app and access to data for insights into what their taxis are doing at any one time, with Allewell saying meter taxi operators should embrace technology in order to compete with the likes of Uber.

“Recent plans to introduce legislation aimed at Uber in Cape Town were met with an outcry on social media. Users want mobile taxi hailing, and it’s not going away anytime soon. We’re offering trusted taxi operators with well-known brands the opportunity to enter the mobile market at the fraction of the cost of creating their own apps,” he said.

The company will launch its white label apps in partnership with three Cape Town-based taxi operators in the next quarter, and plans to roll out countrywide in the coming months.

Allewell told Disrupt Africa consumers would not be faced with an “either or” option when it came to using apps of established operators or solutions like Uber.

“I think it is giving users a variety of choice. It is much much simpler solution, no signups, no credit cards. So really its just that “I need a cab now”, and knowing that the taxi company has credited drivers, has spent money on some tech and up-to-date phones should show the user that they are reputable,” he said.

He said he was juggling a few projects, including another one in a similar space and a hardware project.

“Luckily, after the sabbatical I didn’t have to jump into business, and I’m spending this year getting back into the scene, building a few small business and trying to improve myself as an entrepreneur by studying and learning from the lessons that I built up on Tourism Radio over the 10 years.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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