BY BESTENIGAR KARA
FOUNDED IN 2013 IN SIBERIA, THE U.S.-BASED INTERNATIONAL RIDE-HAILING SERVICE INDRIVE, WHICH CURRENTLY OPERATES IN ISTANBUL AND ANKARA, PLANS TO PENETRATE OTHER CITIES IN TURKEY. MORE THAN 70% OF ALL TAXI DRIVERS HAVE DOWNLOADED THE INDRIVE APPLICATION TODAY IN THE COUNTRY, AND MOST OF THEM USE IT REGULARLY.
The U.S.-based international ride-hailing service inDrive, which currently operates in Istanbul and Ankara, plans to enter other cities in Turkey, according to Maxim Osipov, Turkey Business Development Manager of inDrive. “We are represented in 655 cities around the world. We penetrated the Turkish market with Istanbul and have recently launched in Ankara. There are also plans for other cities,” Osipov said in an exclusive interview with TR MONITOR.
inDrive has a specific foundation history. The company was founded in Yakutsk, Siberia, one of the coldest cities in the world, in 2013, in response to the cartel collusion of big taxi aggregators who raised the cost of the trip during severe frosts. It initially originated after a chat group was created on a social media website where ordinary people, including drivers and passengers, directly agreed on the conditions of taxi trips. The group members shared where they wanted to go and the prices they wanted to pay, allowing drivers to contact these customers and negotiate prices in return. “The final price was much lower than the price set by those taxi aggregators. inDrive was founded based on this community,” Osipov noted.
inDrive is one of the fastest-growing international passenger transport services operating on the peerto-peer pricing model. The company’s mission is to challenge injustice while it manages to resist effectively large companies with huge investments. “That is why we always have the lowest fee, the most transparent and honest conditions, etc,” Osipov said. All conditions of the trips are determined as a result of an agreement between passengers and drivers in the inDrive application. “The fact that we challenge injustice and manage to be one of the most successful companies in the world is our main achievement and our most exciting project, which all inDrive employees are proud of,” Maxim Osipov added.
inDrive is available in 48 countries today. The company, headquartered in California, the U.S., operates around 15 offices globally and employs about 2,500 people. inDrive is the second most popular ride-hailing application in the world. The application topped with the highest number of downloads in 2022, according to the U.S.-based unified data and artificial intelligence (AI) company data.ai, which brings together consumer data and market estimates. The number of downloads of the inDrive application has reached around 175 million globally as of April 2023.
Today, InDrive is an urban and transport services platform. However, the service offered by the company is not just limited to taxi trips based on the country of operation. Maxim Osipov stated that the company offers different services, which depend on the launch date in different countries in many ways. “We offer ride-hailing and intercity trips, courier services, cargo transportation, search for masters of different specialties, job search, etc., in the countries where we entered more than five years ago,” Osipov noted.
DOWNLOADED BY OVER 70% OF TAXI DRIVERS IN A YEAR
The U.S.-based international ride-hailing service inDrive entered Turkey last year. The company penetrated the market with the support of its exclusive team specialized in launches. “Our team includes analysts, marketers, business developers, public relations (PR) specialists, etc. It is a small but effective team,” the inDrive Turkey Business Development Manager noted. The company initially started to operate in Istanbul. “Turkey is one of the key markets in the region. Istanbul is the largest city in Europe. Of course, inDrive could not ignore these factors,” said Osipov. The company first launched its ride-hailing service, gathered a user base, and got brand awareness in the first stage. Then, it gradually started to launch other services such as long-distance trips, intercity travel services, courier delivery, and cargo transportation services. “We are also not going to limit ourselves to city trips in Turkey,” Osipov highlighted. The firm has recently entered the capital Ankara.
“We had certain concerns about the launch in Istanbul. Because we studied the experience of other defeated companies,” Maxim Osipov noted. However, the company has a different business model, and it does not collaborate with ordinary drivers but only with official taxi drivers. Although the company took a chance, it caught phenomenal growth. “More than 70% of all taxi drivers have downloaded our application today, and most of them use our service regularly,” Osipov said, stressing that inDrive is very close to the ambitious key performance indicators it has set for itself towards the cities of operation.
inDrive used different techniques to rapidly grow in the country and raise the number of users. One of them was that the company entered Turkey without monetization. The firm decided to launch monetization much later in the country due to the difficult economic conditions and other factors, such as the twin quakes that jolted southern Turkey on February 6. Furthermore, the company announced a few months ago that it would launch monetization no earlier than the end of this year. “What does it mean for drivers? It means that they can earn even more!”
“TAXI SHORTAGE IS ARTIFICIALLY CREATED”
Touching on the regulation of the taxi industry in Turkey, Osipov said it is very strong, and therefore the company’s features are not presented in the country. “However, I can say that we are distinguished in Turkey by the fact that we adjust our service to the requirements of regulators as much as possible,” Osipov noted. To him, passengers do not benefit from this in terms of the price of trips. “But we offer a fast and convenient service, meet the expectations of drivers, passengers, and the government,” he added.
To him, the main difference between Istanbul and other cities where inDrive operates is the limited number of taxi drivers, meaning the limited number of licenses for taxi activities. “A shortage of taxis is artificially created. It allows drivers to earn more, but it plays against passengers,” Osipov noted.
As inDrive penetrated the Turkish market only last year, the company is just starting to build partnerships in the country. The company plans to build partnerships with Turkish firms, the state, and charitable organizations. From this perspective, inDrive collaborated with several foundations which have helped earthquake victims. For instance, inDrive’s cargo transportation service helped to deliver essential goods to the quake-hit region.
“I ADMIRE HOW ISTANBUL RUNS”
Maxim Osipov, Turkey Business Development Manager of inDrive stated that he admires how Istanbul runs. “Who am I to comment on the management of a city with a population of 20 million people that has no analogs in the world? It is a lot of work. The Mayor of Istanbul is doing a great job,” Osipov said. “And as for companies like inDrive, it is our job to simply be able to integrate into the existing circumstances, but not to interfere in the city. On the contrary, it is our job to complement it, to make the life of its residents and guests more convenient.”