Savannah Moyers fumbled with her certificates as she managed to get them all straight. Finishing her 3rd cup of coffee she sat impatiently on her couch waiting for the arrival of her taxi. Her only chance at this job, she wanted to make her best impression by being on time for her final interview with the CEO. Ten long minutes passed but no sign of the taxi that was due to pick her up half an hour ago, endless calls to the transport providers went in vain. She finally hitched a ride with a friend making in time for her interview.
Everyday many commuters like Savannah are faced with the same issue of a late show or no show by taxis. Miscommunication being the core factor for this ongoing issue. Startoholics had the opportunity to indulge in a chat session with Bryony Cooper, CEO of T Dispatch, the dispatch system responsible behind the efficient fleet management in London and Berlin.
Have a look at Quick Introduction to T Dispatch
To anyone who’s never come across T Dispatch, how would you describe it?
T Dispatch is a web-based dispatch system for fleet management. We’ve built an advanced software solution for passenger transport providers, such as limo and taxi companies, giving them the tools to manage their drivers, their clients and their business. As we gradually grow our network of quality managed fleets, it opens up great opportunities to partner with well known brands, such as taxi booking apps.
How involved are you with fundraising?
Very much. My first foray into startup fundraising was in May 2012, when we presented as finalists at Seedcamp. Since then I’ve secured seed investments from an incubator fund, business angels and VCs; pitching the product and
the vision is one of my favourite parts of the role. They really get to see your passion, and respond to it.
Where do you think is the future of Internet Startups?
I think the boom will continue for some time yet, especially in SaaS. Even blue chip companies are becoming more familiar and trusting of cloud technologies, starting to see how the benefits outweigh traditional hardware installations. As for mobile tech, surely there’s almost an app for everything now! Some industries are still playing catch up, so I don’t think that’s been exhausted yet either. We’ll have to see what new technologies take off.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
The biggest hurdle we faced was opening a company in a new country in Germany, where none of us spoke the language or had knowledge of the paperwork and tax systems. We had to learn that pretty fast! And of course, getting investors to believe in your vision before you have any numbers to show – I’m sure that’s a hurdle every startup faces in the early days.
Has your product got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
In the beginning it was better than we expected, signing up one new fleet a day. After signing up those who had been anticipating the launch, we realised we’d have to work harder to get new daily leads in too. Now we are focusing more on the number of drivers than signed fleets, to get as many people using the system as possible. Clients are great at giving us feedback and suggestions, though their excellent ideas often contradict each other!
How do you differentiate from your competitors?
We have two types of competitors:
– The old school systems, using hardware installations. These are very costly to install and run, are not compatible with the latest technologies and are not flexible to be updated. We have an open API to integrate with any other software, and give our clients a simple login; it saves time, money, and allows them to aggregate multiple booking channels into one platform.
– Booking apps are not really our competitors, but they share a similar space in the market. Most taxi apps are P2P, and offer a very basic book and dispatch function. We’re looking to integrate with as many passenger-facing apps as possible. Our booking and dispatch CRM is aimed at managing fleets and drivers looking to join the network, for an opportunity to connect with these big lead generators.
Have you had any failures and what did you learn from them?
After a great couple of months of sales, I’d say we tried to scale the team too quickly, and didn’t spend enough time focusing on finding the right people to grow with us. It’s all too easy to rush HR, so make sure it’s a great fit on both sides.
Where do you see T Dispatch after 5 years?
I see us as being the leading fleet management software for the passenger transport industry, partnered with well-known brands in air, rail and leisure industries. We already have our first big project with a UK rail company, and we hope to become technology partners for brands globally.
Which entrepreneurs do you most admire?
Well, I have to say I appreciate Marissa Mayer, flying the flag for female CEOs in the technology world!
What one piece of advice would you give to soon to be startup founders?
Lay out your plans before you dive in. Make sure you know exactly how much money you will need to get your product or service sellable, and then double it! If you’re prepared with a business plan from the word ‘go’, you’ll find it much easier to convey your idea to investors, potential clients or employees.
With better services being provided for commuters taking a taxi, we hope to see the rail project on board soon efficiently helping those travellers as well.