San Francisco private driver startup Uber is picking up speed in Europe, with an official launch last week in Berlin, and Milan as the next city on the list. What’s the strategy? “Lots of hustle,” as the company’s vice president of global operations Ryan Graves puts it.
Uber runs on a simple idea that’s picked up plenty of fans in the tech community: Download an app, sign up using your credit card details, summon a private driver, see who’s close and how far away they are, and pay effortlessly within the app.
The price tends to sit at 15 to 20 per cent more than the cost of a normal taxi cab. In exchange, Uber promises a superior car and reliable service.
In the U.S., the model proved enough of a hit for Uber to raise a $32 million round and, in late 2011, announce plans to expand to “two cities a month around the world.” Since then, the company has rolled out in new cities including London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, Milan and Singapore (both still in test phase), and Sydney.
Berlin may prove a tricky market: With a few exceptions, it’s more known for tote bags and graffiti than glitz and business. It’s also a stronghold for Germany-founded taxi app MyTaxi and limousine service Blacklane.
Graves, Uber’s first chief executive and the current head of global operations, spoke to us in Berlin about why the city’s a good fit, plans to bring its lower-priced taxi service to Europe (“possible”), and how the company will avoid fights with regulators like those it had in Washington DC.
This story originally appeared on Venture Village, one of VentureBeat’s editorial partners, in Germany.
This story originally appeared on VentureVillage. Copyright 2013