I’m not sure what the future of taxis will be, but I hope it looks a lot like Hailo.

While the taxi-hailing app has been available in New York City for a while now, it wasn’t until this weekend that I finally had a chance to use it. And I came away from the experience far more impressed than I expected to.

My first interaction with Hailo emerged largely out of desperation: Friends and I were stranded (or at least as stranded as one can be in New York City) on Friday evening and needed a taxi to get us from Queens to Manhattan, where friends were waiting for us.

Taxis, however, were predictably hard to come by in the out-of-the-way area where we waited, which, in a last-ditch effort, inspired me to download Hailo and create an account.

The entire sign-up process, as I recall it, didn’t take very long, and after a few minutes I had the medallion number, license number, and phone number of Zahirul, the man who would soon be our taxi driver.

Already the biggest benefit of Hailo became clear: Rather than wait on a corner with my arm hanging limply in the air to hail a taxi, I was using my phone to do the hailing for me.

The benefits of this new, tech-enabled empowerment soon became even more obvious when a taxi slowly pulled up to our corner and honked. A couple, who had also been waiting nearby, immediately scampered over to it — and so did I.

“Hey, sorry — I think this one’s mine,” I told them.

In an English accent, one responded: “Actually, no — we hailed it.”

My retort couldn’t have been written better by even Hailo’s own copywriters, “Well, I Hailoed it,” I quipped, grinning and shaking my phone in their faces. They were dumbfounded.

Inside the taxi Zahirul chirped, “Hey, Ricardo!” and unlocked his doors. My friends and I piled in, and as the taxi pulled away, I turned back to look at the couple we had left behind. They we’re looking in other direction, raising their arms for another taxi that might not ever come.

Some takeaways

From a purely experiential vantage, Hailo worked exceptionally well. Less than ten minutes after requesting a cab, I had one.

This first experience is important one, not only for me, but for Hailo’s larger business as well. If the company can’t ensure that its first-time customers have a decent initial experience, then chances are those first-time customers won’t ever try Hailo again.

Obviously, Hailo doing something right. The company has raised $50 million so far, and has taxis running its app in 11 cities — even those that aren’t entirely that happy to have it.

I’m usually skeptical of our obsession with of disruption-for-disruption’s-sake, but there’s something that makes so much sense about Hailo (and, yes, Uber) that makes it tough to imagine ever hailing a taxi the normal way ever again.


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