If you’ve looked at the news cycle recently (outside of election politics), you probably think Uber and Lyft have taken over the world, with the rest of the on-demand economy close behind. You might be wondering if we even need taxi cabs anymore? What about the rest of public transportation? Has the on-demand economy taken it all over?
According to Andrew Meyers, CEO of Kaptyn and lifelong for-hire transportation sector innovator, the answer is a resounding no. Andrew states:
“RideShare/e-hail service makes up less than 20 percent of the United States transportation industry as a whole. An industry that is worth well over 30 billion dollars"
There’s no denying the sheer size of the global transportation industry. Going forward the global taxi and car-service market alone is projected to increase to 183 billion in value, by 2024, according to statisticians at fivethirtyeight. Thus, even if the on-demand economy takes a slice of that, as Andrew states ‘the long tail of opportunity is in the regulated commercial transportation industry'
So what creates this misperception?
Access. That's the real disconnect of the on-demand economy. Are these on-demand services able to support the entire population independent of socio-economic factors? Definitely not. As Andrew states: “Public transit should not be based on whether its peak or off-peak hours. People need to remember that public transportation is a public commodity that should be available to anyone at anytime."
As an aficionado of the for-hire transportation industry, it was this people-focused sentiment that brought Andrew into the industry in the first place:
“I’ve set up transportation services in over 30 cities, and every driver has a different story about why they drive and how impactful it has been in allowing them to put food on the table."
But Andrew’s perspective is not to preserve the status quo as you might imagine, but rather to combine the democratized public transit space with the technology and innovation of the ‘gig economy’. This led him to found Kaptyn, which he describes as:
“ Bringing technology to transportation owners, allowing them to compete in today’s data driven world." - Andrew Meyers
Andrew founded Kaptyn by rolling his two existing companies up after 10 years of working in commercial public transportation space and intently studying the regulatory backbone of ordinances such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 44, Publication 14 governed by the National Conference of Weights and Measures.
Kaptyn focused on the parts of the taxi Andrew refers to as the heart and the brain. Kaptyn sets up smart taxi fleets by fitting them with a national regulated and certified smart-meter and a suite of features including mobile app integration, wifi access, software management services, and advertising capabilities. He supplements this with state of the art safety and regulation features from driver scoring to accident prevention alerts to data security. It also integrates with e-hail providers through an open API, which has allowed Kapytn to continually integrate with any on-demand ride hailing apps.
Lets pause there for a second.
Imagine every single taxicab and public transit vehicle outfitted with those features. Kaptyn is not just a ‘software update’ but rather, a massive elevation of the public transportation sector.
The best part? It’s already in action.
Kaptyn originally launched in Las Vegas, where it operates in 90 percent of the taxi fleet, and partners with the fleet’s insurance providers to offer streamlined underwriting and cost incentives for safer driving. Las Vegas makes the perfect testing ground because of their highly regulated industry, driver benefits, and capped number of taxicabs.
More recently, Kaptyn partnered with New York City, to help them hit their public safety and accident prevention goals. Kaptyn ended up becoming the first vendor approved for the Vision Zero Vehicle Safety Initiative Pilot in April of 2015 and outfitted a number of school buses and public buses with their solutions.
Overall, Kaptyn’s clients have seen more than a 20% percent reduction in accidents.
Andrew makes it clear these results come from a holistic system:
“Part of it was the halo effect, just knowing someone was watching. But then when you add pre-emptive messages around accidents and alert buttons for vehicles in distress, you can drastically reduce safety risks."
Going forward Kaptyn’s vision is even more ambitious, Andrew continues:
“We want to be that feeling of safety and security the minute you step into the vehicle. We are the foundation of mobility infrastructure and seek to form Public-Private Partnerships across the sector. That lets us structure the arena of commercial transit to be secure and reliable for everyone."
Andrew’s approach to transportation resembles Apple’s approach with the iOS operating system. Kaptyn is designed to adapt to most vehicles (including buses, taxis, emergency vehicles, ride-share, and luxury) and build layers of software and applications. The baseline software Kaptyn has developed creates a universal standard of safety, efficiency, and measurement for all vehicles.
Andrew’s vehicle agnostic approach even takes autonomous vehicles into account:
"I believe we are 5-7 years away from accepted form of an autonomous vehicle, and about 7-10 years away from robust commercial for-hire autonomous vehicle. Kaptyn software is extremely applicable to the heart of the car. We’re creating a foundation of codes that is adaptable to any specific need of the industry. Our software is designed to make a credible sync with the vehicle itself, which is able to exchange data with the insurance provider and manufacturer. Going forward the commercial sector needs to be able to build with the sync in the car itself and not third party devices, that’s exactly what Kaptyn provides."
After our conversation, I realized what makes Kaptyn so valuable. Kaptyn is a problem solver.
For everyone. For the regulated transportation market Kaptyn insures that it maintains quality standards and reliability, no matter the time of day. For the ride-sharing economy, Kaptyn can mitigate the safety concerns that have popped around Uber and Lyft. In public transportation sphere, Kaptyn can ensure group safety, and better efficiency tracking. In the future Kaptyn, aims to make sure cars have an adaptable built-in software system as we develop IoT applications and autonomous vehicles.
That is why Kaptyn’s next big focus is the smart cities initiative, which it is pioneering in Las Vegas and New Jersey. Partnering with institutions across the public and private sectors, Kaptyn hopes to build a universally accessible and reliable transportation system. Simultaneously, Kaptyn is also exploring international expansion after drawing serious interest from government agencies in Australia, UAE, and Mexico.
Andrew likes to describe his operating philosophy as: “reliable supply equals demand”. Judging by Kaptyn’s early success, he’s certainly onto something, but I believe the core driver of Kaptyn’s value is the ethos of the company. The very product is designed to foster collaboration and innovation across every piece of the transportation industry to create a system that works for everyone.
In other words the future of transportation.
A huge thank you to Andrew Meyers for taking some time out of his schedule to chat with me, and Sergio Fernández de Córdova for connecting us. After hearing about the work Kaptyn does I knew I had to find out more. The whole team including, Micah Boster and Lisa Munjack of Munjack Marketing, was incredibly welcoming and informative.
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