Who’s afraid of the economic crisis? Greek startup Taxibeat raises $2m and expands to Mexico

taxi Mexico
taxi Mexico

taxi Mexico

Athens-headquartered taxi app startup Taxibeat has raised $2m from private Greek investors and is hoping to raise double that much again to help it expand in Mexico and South America.

Nikos Drandakis co-founded Taxibeat in Athens in May 2011 at the start of Greece’s second financial crisis, about a month before Standard & Poor cut the country’s credit rating to a rock bottom CCC, at the time the worst in the world, and just before a wave of violent protests in Athens.

Since then, despite continued economic suffering and instability at home, Taxibeat has expanded to Paris, Oslo and Bucharest in Europe and Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil. The company – incorporated in the UK to try to make it more attractive to international investors – raised $1.4 million from private investors including entrepreneurs Apostolos Apostolakis and Nikos Moraitakis in December 2012. 

Now, Taxibeat has raised an additional $2m from new and existing investors, all high-net-worth individuals in Greece, and announced plans to expand to Mexico City. “We didn’t really campaign for it,” Drandakis said – the new investors mostly came on board through word of mouth. The company is currently campaigning to raise a further €4-6m round from investors in Europe and the US.

After three years of austerity measures, he’s resigned to their home base’s economic troubles – while Greece’s S&P credit rating is now back up to B-, unemployment hit a record high 26.9 per cent in April. “The climate is still bad but we’re used to it,” he said, . “We create our own environment.”

A more pressing concern for the business is how to establish and maintain a lead in Brazil, Mexico and further upcoming markets in South America.

Taxibeat’s iOS and Android apps allow user to find and call taxis, pay within the app and rate drivers – the company places particular emphasis on its rating system, which it thinks will came in handy in markets where safety is important.

Competitors in Europe include Hailo and myTaxi; Rocket Internet’s EasyTaxi, which raised an extra $15m from Rocket Internet and Millicom in June, is active in ten cities in Brazil plus Mexico City, Lima, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Venezuela. 

Image credit:
taxi in Mexico: Flickr user cerulean5000

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