Taxiapp is a collective of over 1,000 black cab drivers serving the London area. Formed in 2016, it incorporated as a co-op in March 2018 – out of a need to redress the balance of power in the sector.
“Corporate companies have intervened in our business and they haven’t got our best interests at heart,” says Scott Wolsey, co-op member and taxi driver of 25 years. “They seek to profit from us or our customers. They excessively raise prices or undercut when it suits them to drive their profit.”
Scott and his fellow co-op founders struck up a deal with a firm of developers. “They created the app for us. We paid for it at a reduced rate and they run it for us. We own the skin and name and they own the source code.”
The co-op’s member drivers pay £20 a month to subscribe to the app – and enjoy the benefits of membership: “Our drivers are on a platform that would never share their passenger data with a private hire – other apps do that all the time,” Scott explains.
“Our customers say, ‘We like your taxi app, the drivers always turn up happy.’ That’s because everyone likes to get paid what they are worth.”
At the start of their journey to becoming a co-operative, Taxiapp enlisted the help of The Hive – and were supported by Hive Provider, Siôn Whellens.
“He gave us a lot of valuable advice,” Scott recalls. “He presented different options to us and suggested the best model that would work with our business – so we became a worker co-op.”
“He also went through the co-operative rules with us and helped us tailor them to our needs. Thanks to his help through The Hive, we felt confident that we were doing the right thing.”
Two years later, Scott feels the same. Taxiapp recently underwent a rebrand and is successfully engaging its drivers in a number of business areas that give them a say in how the co-op is run.
It has a 200-strong PR chat group – for trading marketing and promotion ideas. There are also groups for finance, administration, work and business – and a steering group.
It’s Scott’s dream to give drivers throughout the country the opportunity to subscribe to the Taxiapp platform. “I would love other cities to be able to join our app. We are all stronger when we work together.”
“There is more strength collectively than there is individually. The co-op has enabled us to take control, look after our customers and provide them with happy drivers. With more subscriptions, it’s our ambition to offer an even better service to our drivers and passengers – and better value for money for everyone.”