Ryan Marques, InTaxi Media: Making cab rides more enjoyable
Years ago, inflight entertainment systems were implemented into airplane seats to give individual entertainment to each and every passenger, something that is now being offered in taxis in Brazil.
In Global Fleet’s brief one-on-one with Ryan Marques, the founder of local startup InTaxi Media, we find out more about what the company is doing to help make cab rides in Brazil more enjoyable.
What does InTaxi Media do?
RM: Essentially, what we do is install 10-inch interactive video screens inside cabs throughout Brazil to provide entertainment for thousands of passengers every day.
In Brazil, taxi co-ops are common, right? Could you explain what this is?
RM: A co-op is a group, or an association, of taxi drivers which standardize their services. They usually have a co-op sticker and a shared toll-free telephone number. Each driver pays a monthly fee which goes toward the operational costs of the co-op.
Taxi’s are more known for B2C operations. What about B2B? Do co-ops target this type of business?
RM: Sure, a co-op first starts by contacting a large company (e.g. Johnson & Johnson) in need of mobility services.
They could say something like, “We have 500 cars which are Toyota Corollas and all of our drivers use a suit and tie. If all your employees use our service, we will give you 30 days to pay your mobility bills, and we could even help you with fleet management.”
You told me earlier that you focus on cab drivers but not ride-hail drivers (e.g. Uber). Why is that?
RM: Well, we see taxi drivers as being more professional. Most of them wake up early (around 5am), drive for about 12 hours, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that they will pick up at least 20 passengers.
They have also invested in acquiring a "medallion" so there is more commitment to remaining a taxi driver.
As for Uber drivers, I don’t know for sure if they will be around in the next few months. They may be in between jobs or maybe they already have a job and are just doing this for supplementary income (2-3 hours a day). This flexibility results in less commitment.
Keep in mind that we finance all of the hardware (interactive screens) so it makes more sense to invest in taxis than Uber. I’m not saying that an Uber model does not exist, but investing in taxis is just more viable.
So, what type of content is played in the cabs?
RM: We have content partnerships with more than 35 providers. Among them are BBC, Bloomberg, InfoMoney, Vogue, and ESPN. It is similar to inflight entertainment on airplanes but without long programs. We usually feature short video clips or news headlines of only a few minutes.
The exact types of video to be played in any particular area is based on past clicks on the video screens made by passengers during previous rides.
In Taxi Media entertainment screen (Source: In Taxi Media)
Are taxi drivers charged?
RM: No, taxi drivers are not charged. They actually get extra benefits such as repair services. We fix taxi meters and taxi roof signs at our own garages.
So, it sounds like a win-win situation for the cab drivers, right?
RM: Yes, we currently have a higher demand from drivers than the ability to install the screens. What we need is to bring in more advertisers to help fund the project and grow more. Our source of revenue is from advertisers.
What about installing your system in buses? Is that an option?
RM: As we focus on entertainment for individuals, our focus is on 5-passenger vehicles and not vans or buses. Remember that taxis are quite a bit more expensive to take than buses so the profile of a passenger in a taxi is different.
They are higher end users and this attracts advertiser such as Volvo, Universal Studios, and Tiffany which are already our clients. We don’t have millions of passengers right now so our focus is on a smaller number of premium passengers. However, as we grow, our strategy could change.