As we expand into Europe, we need to think about our strategic positioning, and Tom Tunguz has 5 very pertinent questions that are worth answering in the context of what is our strategy (and how does it transfer beyond emerging market environments).
What are we creating at GoMetro?
A Platform for Flexible Mobility. “What if CityMapper and Uber had a baby?”
We are designing a toolkit to transform how transport systems operate and function in cities around the world. It is grounded in the concept of the Flexible Mobility Platform – that any operating area (a shopping centre, a university campus, a CBD, an office park, a suburb) can be coordinated better if we provide better information and tasking to co-create transport solutions for an area to provide shared mobility or “private-public transit”.
“One day someone will be able to open the flx app on their phone that will tell them exactly how to get from where they are to where they need to be using the cheapest or fastest or most appropriate mode of transport – and steer them through their journey as they proceed. Sometimes it will be direct via metro, or using a combination of public transport and shared taxi services. Sometimes the journey will be regular enough and popular enough that it will be best executed by means of a shared van service that is run on a subscription basis. Transport operators and providers will be recalibrated to be more efficient and generate more revenue due to more people using and relying on flx over their own cars. Owning a car is going to seem as funny as owning a DVD collection or having a desktop computer – when you can consume mobility-as-a-service.”
Flexible Mobility presents all transport options for a particular area or community (such as a campus or a business park) for a user to choose the most appropriate form of transport for their needs – both to provide and consume – that is low-impact and low-cost. A user may end up belonging to multiple Flexible Mobility Platforms (such as your town, your child’s school, a local retail park, a delivery service and long-distance ride-share for out-of-town travel). Our Flexible Mobility Platform makes use of private vehicle navigation and routing, public transport routing and shared mobility options and routing – and draws from Uber fleet and minibus taxi fleets.
The unit of Flexible Mobility is a “flx”. A “flx” is a transport task that needs to draw from and generates data, provides information to both a “flxee” and “flxor”, plans, contracts and executes a transaction, and should be able to be executed on-demand. Flexible Mobility requires a new operating system – and the core of that system is the “flx”. The “flx” has a central architecture and uniform data schema. A well-designed flx engine will produce value in multiple verticals and extend the benefits and value of the flx platform into new markets and industries beyond public transport systems.
A flx has the following characteristics:
- An origin for the flxor and an origin for the flxee at the start of the flx (as these may be different locations)
- A destination for the flxee
- A flxee – the person who is looking to be carried (distinction should be made between the passenger and the person paying/subsidising the trip)
- A flxor – the person who is doing the job (distinction is made between the driver and the owner)
- An arrival time and a necessary departure time to achieve that arrival time
- A travel time plus real-time traffic conditions
- A calendar or schedule (once-off or regular)
- Events along the way (expected and unexpected) such as pickups or drop-offs
- A charge per unit time or unit distance to multiple parties boarding and being transported
- A cost per unit time or unit distance that ensures the flxor is profitable
What is your distinctive value proposition?
Which customers do we serve? We serve the early adopters who do not want to buy a second car or who want to sell their car but still get to their office. Our value proposition is to provide smart mobility tools across the next phase of city development.
At this transition period, Cities and their consultants trying to solve/offer better urban mobility
Transport operators (big and small), as well as new mobility transport companies offering new services but not being able to show this
Transport users – commuters and corporates that need daily mobility – and we believe we will become more and more essential to their needs over time. Our real opportunity is to have deep and profitable relationships with our riders – who can and should come to rely on us more and more.
Their needs are:
Flexible mobility – clear and live contracting and reporting.
A software platform that allows them to deliver/execute/run/operate flexible mobility.
This is a virtual service that will move up the value-chain over time as people stop buying cars and start relying on these networks.
Our position and pricing:
Middle-class on the fuel-tank and equivalent car operations cost – and fill the gap for lower-middle-class individuals relying on transport to get to work for shifts.
Cost-competitive service for 14-seaters.
How do you tailor the value chain to suit your company?
Porter wrote about two different types of value chains: internal value chains and external ones. In this case, he is talking about the internal one. As Joan Magretta writes in Understanding Michael Porter, “The essence of strategy and competitive advantage lies in the activities, and choosing to perform activities differently or to perform different activities from those of rivals.”
We have expertise in mobile apps (passenger), systems (organization) and mapping apps (driver) that we could use to deliver MaaS. We can deliver a three-sided marketplace – focussed on delivering information products, data products and travel products.
What trade-offs does your business offer to differentiate itself from competitors?
Every strategy has a trade-off. A startup trades speed of execution through focus to win in a market. An incumbent trades greater capitalization, reach and assets for speed. We will not own our own fleet (less control) so that we can have more coverage (more vehicles). Our biggest and most urgent objective is critical mass at key nodes. We will start working with corporates and office parks so that we can create critical mass quickly and efficiently. This also goes for universities and other areas.
How strong is the value proposition across the value chain?
This is a nuanced question that tries to get at the leverage the strategy creates in the business. In other words, does the new value proposition and the trade offs made within the businesses operations suddenly create new market opportunity and competitive advantage. Once we achieve critical mass, we will be able to start a Uber-like network on the back of the corporate contracts on the same infrastructure and fixed cost base.
How does your strategy endure over time?
Can our data platform create incumbency? Can our mobile app userbase create incumbency? Can our city relationships create incumbency?