Three cabbies turned start-up entrepreneurs, backed by a founder of Skype, will tomorrow realise their vision of making hailing a black cab in London as simple as two taps of a smartphone.
Hailo officially launches tomorrow after months of testing, allowing customers to use their iPhone or Android smartphones to call nearby licensed taxis without standing in the street for hours with their arms out.
There are 23,000 black cab drivers in London and so far 2,000 have signed up to the service. It is designed, according to the founders, to "bring the cab into the 21st century". The app will be available to Apple and Android customers, free of charge, from tomorrow.
Hailo was born out of a meeting between taxi drivers Russell Hall, Gary Jackson and Terry Runham, and internet entrepreneurs Ron Zeghibe, Caspar Woolley and Jay Bregman in a café off London's Tottenham Court Road.
The drivers' previous venture, internet-based cab business Taxilight, was running out of "steam, money and time" according to Mr Hall. Instead they developed the concept of Hailo.
He said: "We realised there was a real opportunity to bring a fresh technology platform to a business that is hundreds of years old."
Mr Hall said a customer's smartphone will locate their position by GPS. When they order a cab, the location will be available to the drivers and those nearby can accept the fare. The customer will know how far away the cab is, what the driver's name and registration is, and can also pay by credit or debit card.
Hailo is backed by Atomico Ventures, the investment vehicle of Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom, and venture capital group Wellington Partners, one of music streaming service Spotify's original backers.
It currently has a team of 20 software engineers, including some who have worked at the Ministry of Defence and Google. It has completed both its driver and passenger trials and goes live tomorrow.