With a few hours left into its official launch in Nairobi, Uber Kenya, which will launch its Uber X service at the Nairobi Restaurant Week tomorrow Januray 22 through Saturday 24 with a promo that will see UberX users claim up to 2 free rides worth a maximum of Ksh 2000 each, Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi has announced its presence at the event with a seemingly better deal than UberX.
While UberX says it will give Ksh 2,000 off any two UberX rides to anyone who downloads its iOS, Android & Windows Phone app and cues in the NRW2015 promo code, Easy Taxi says it will be offering FREE rides to enthusiastic foodies all over Nairobi to any restaurant participating in Nairobi Restaurant Week every day from 11 AM until 11:59 PM.
Users only need to download Easy Taxi; request taxi, type in “#OnlyWithEasy” in the reference field then a few minutes for a free ride to their favorite restaurant.
Both have heavy backing from their headquarters, just last year alone, Uber raised close to $2.5 billion as billion war chest compared to Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi recent $40 million Series D round from Russian Phenomen Ventures with participation of Tengelmann Ventures to strenthen its position in the multiple markets including Africa.
Other Taxi companies such as MaraMoja Transport, SasaCabs and others will have to give in to this two giants unless they have a way of signing up users minus spending a single coin-which is definately tough but possible. Easy Taxi earlier had plans to buy and loan smartphones to its drivers, something MARAMOJA was doing. Uber can as well afford smartphones for its UberX drivers.
Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi started its operations in Kenya early April 2014 and in four months reported to have over 10 full-time employees, over 2500 users and over 600 registered cab drivers. Uber, on the other hand announced in October 2013 it was hiring a community manager and other positions for its Kenyan operations but took too long to launch-which some tipsters say was a delay in signing deal with M-PESA or probably all the candidates who applied were shitty but Uber had its own strategy, maybe by waiting longer-the market got educated on taxi apps by Easy Taxi, SasaCabs and the others and it has to spend a zero sum to get crazy downloads and driver signups.
Like an iPhone compared to an Android or Windows Phone, Uber to many is a premium service even if its an UberX and associating itself to prestige sells to the cream of society who act as influencers and marketers themselves to their social circles. On the other hand, Easy Taxi, which has been in the market for sometime and marketed to the ordinary Nairobi dude has a significant following and a number of taxi drivers claim the service has increased their trips and revenues, so Uber might ot easily break that unless its incentives are high and its fees lower.
Easy Taxi has tried to court the media, bloggers, twitter big-wigs to events it was partnering; to both sell its brand and sign up a new users or get the word out freely by enthusiastic tweets. The firm has also organised its own events such as the scavenger hunt / amazing race and got participants on free rides. Uber has also done the same in both South Africa and Nigeria and is likely to ferry Lagos guys out to go vote come election day. Both Uber’s and Easy Taxi’s partnership with the Nairobi Restaurant Week will tell who is who in Nairobi’s taxi scene.
Though Easy Taxi says it has over 3 million users and over 185,000 drivers globally doing millions of rides per month across 160+ cities in 30+ countries worldwide, Uber is present in over 200 cities and valued at $40+b andgenerated over $200 million in revenue in 2013.
The firm has also promised to work with municipal partners to help manage urban growth, relieve traffic congestion, expand public transportation, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions using its data.