The Hailo Founder's Story - Know Your Market, Your Customers and Investors

Russell Hall HailoTo date, Hailo has raised over $50 million in funding, expanded into sixteen major cities, and there is a Hailo booking every 4 seconds.  So what created this epically successful venture?  Russell Hall, co-founder of Hailo, joined Startup Grind London to tell us all about it.

Like all great entrepreneurs Russell actually started with another idea, a web-based booking platform called Taxilight in 2009, with two other taxi drivers.  They quickly realized that it was not what they had envisioned and decided to leave Taxilight behind. Russell said the real eureka moment happened while talking to Peter Stringfellow, a successful British businessman himself.  Before he could even explain the idea for the Hailo app, Stringfellow said, “It’ll be a success because you know the market you’re in.”


After that, the three cab drivers found three Internet entrepreneurs and the rest, is history.  They worked together to solve a problem that they knew intimately and ended up revolutionizing a 350 year old industry.

Here are some key take-aways for budding entrepreneurs:

Know your market

With extensive experience in the London cab industry, their initial launch was so successful because they knew more than their competitors.  Social media grabbed hold of Hailo and eventually celebrities started endorsing them as well. Hailo ensures that they keep this advantage throughout their expansions, getting key industry feedback from drivers in each city.  This also plays a part in their monetization, tailoring their app for different markets; in Europe they charge drivers, whereas in the USA they charge the customer.

Know your customers

Without drivers there would be no passengers for Hailo, so they focused on making the driver experience as easy and intuitive as possible.  From making easy payments, helping to find jobs, to teaching them to use smart-phones and even setting up email addresses.

Know your investors

Prepare a roadmap of where you are going and what you hope to do with the money you’ll be receiving.  For every investor they pitch to, Hailo shows its future horizons and expected delivery outcomes.  As you meet these outcomes, it gets easier in further investment stages because you’ve already seen some success and growth, so you can be even more confident in what you’re selling.  Having received funding from the same investors responsible for Skype, Twitter, Spotify and Facebook, it’s safe to say Hailo knows what they are doing.



Trust your team

Without trust in each other’s strengths it would be hard to get anywhere.  From the start, the six founders worked long hours and finally felt so bonded that they knew they were on to a winner.  People are attracted to working for Hailo because they see the possibility of the app and they live the same dream as the founders, “We keep growing, so they keep growing.”

Know yourself

Your family is instrumental in helping you and supporting you when you think you’re doing something crazy.  Stay focused and confident.  Believe in your journey (even if it starts off as six guys on a boat in west London).  Set key goals for yourself and your team and celebrate them! Russell’s next key moment will be when Hailo is an everyday verb.

In the two years since it’s launch Hailo has done incredibly well and they continue to grow.  If you have a great idea, take Russell’s advice to stay confident and believe in your offering… Who knows? You could be the next Hailo!

Written by: Shona Read


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