The top 10 British innovations in 2012: Part 3


Part 3: Hailo App

In the third instalment of our British innovation blog series we’ll be looking into the success of Hailo, the app that allows you to hail a cab from your mobile phone.

Having started off in a café in London in late 2011, it has experienced phenomenal success and now operates in 11 major cities worldwide. Hailo’s business model draws similarities to Funding Circle as it cuts out the middleman; by allowing passengers to connect with the taxi driver directly, rather than going through an operator.

What is Hailo?

Hailo provides a service to both cab drivers and customers. To get going with it, you can download the app onto your smartphone from your respective app store which will allow you to pick up a booking if you’re a cab driver or help you to book a taxi if you’re a passenger. Instead of braving the elements and searching the streets for a yellow light, the GPS on users’ phones pinpoint where both parties are; providing an estimate of when the taxi will collect their ride. As a passenger, you also have the option to pay by credit card for your journey, which is great for when you don’t have any cash.

Why has it been so successful?

Recognising that there were huge inefficiencies in the taxi market, three London cabbies teamed up with three technology entrepreneurs and together, their wealth of knowledge allowed them to create an easy-to-use app for the urban population. With figures suggesting that cabs can have between 30-60% downtime, there was a gap in the market to provide something that would ease the uncertainty of driving around and searching for a fare. The Hailo team also saw inefficiencies for the customer. Cash is being used less as people use electronic payments and credit cards more, and once you create a Hailo account you can pay electronically, add a tip and leave feedback for your driver.

Success despite the competition

At the time of launching Hailo, there were other taxi apps available to download, however their success can be attributed to building a happy community of drivers first, before it was offered to the public. They offered services to drivers, such as daily logs to improve efficiency and traffic sharing information which meant that as soon as Londoners started using Hailo, their service was already established enough to take off.

Their key London competitor is Get Taxi, which has 1,500 black-cab drivers registered, and apps for mini cab providers, such as Addison Lee or comparison taxi apps like Kabbee.

What’s next?

Currently Hailo operates in London and four other cities worldwide, and there are plans to expand to New York and another 5 cities this year with the $30 million they received in series B funding.


Although the app is free to download for drivers and passengers, the costs involved for a successful trip may act as a deterrent for users in the future. Drivers hand over 10% of their fare to Hailo, and they have recently introduced a minimum £10 fare for the passenger on a Friday and Saturday night; which has to be paid by card.

Hailo is an excellent example of British innovative thinking that can produce great success locally and internationally by solving everyday problems.

Jack Pritchett

Senior Communications Manager