This interview is part of our series of Growth Stories. We interviewed the founders and CEOs of 20 of the fastest growing startups in Europe. We asked them about their companies, their companies’ culture, and their lives, trying to understand how these three factors played a role in the achievement of such impressive growth.
Ride-hailing is, like food delivery, one of the toughest industry to be in. There’s a particularly aggressive competition going on and no clear ruler has emerged yet.
Even Uber, that certainly is the most famous company in this sector, is far from monopolistic control. It suffered from a defeat in China and there have been rumors that it explored the possibility of selling its southeast Asian branch.
As known, the many battle-hardened competitors of this business are focusing their efforts not just on better service and lower fares for their passengers but also on the development of fully autonomous car, the Holy Grail of ride-hailing.
Not having a driver’s license myself – and above all not having intentions of getting one until there will be the possibility to drive the Bat-Mobile – I wanted to know more about how the business of ride-hailing will develop in the future.
For this reason, I reached out to Ricardo Weder, the president of Cabify, a Spanish company that offers vehicles for hire, challenging Uber in the key markets of Central and South America and in the Iberian peninsula.
Founded in 2011, Cabify has been a Tech5 finalist for Spain in 2017, 2015, and 2014, and now it’s worth almost € 1,5 billion.
TNW: What’s the single factor that you think contributed the most to Cabify’s growth?
Ricardo Weder: I’d mention two different factors. The first one is our ability to prepare in advance for the upcoming challenges. I’m referring in particular to the so-called “problem of more” or “the paradox of growth” that says that the more you grow, the more difficult it gets. We were well-equipped to deal with all the challenges that arose in the initial phase of growth.
The second factor is company culture, that I think really is the most important thing that a company treasures.
Well, yes, I guess that, in light of Uber’s past scandals, company’s culture played an important role for you. How would you describe Cabify’s company culture?
We have very simple values that are shared by all of us. The first one is that “we care,” that we want to build a business that generates value for all the stakeholders. We aim for excellence but we know that there are certain limits that shouldn’t be trespassed.
I mean that’s pretty basic, right?
Of course, but you have to keep in mind that this is one of the most aggressive industry ever.
And how do you survive in such a literal urban jungle?
We mostly focus on improving our proposition in terms of service and quality. For example, take the relationship that we have with our partner drivers. We really strive to form a community with them. The sharing economy should be like an equation and both sides should be at the same level.
If the local laws allow it, each quarter all our employees work as drivers for a couple of days so they can understand what are the needs both of our drivers and customers.
Ok, now a couple of questions from other entrepreneurs that I interviewed in this series of Growth Stories. Alex Zivoder (CEO GoHenry) asks: “What’s your answer to the famous Peter Thiel’s interview question (tell me something that is true that almost nobody agrees with you on)?”
Good one. I’ve used it myself in many interviews. It’s the first time that someone asks it to me.
I’d say that a kind of universal income should be implemented in most of Latin American countries. Technology moves fast and governments lag behind in terms of policies and regulations. Universal income could represent a solution. Usually, people don’t agree with me when I say it.
Daniel Reina (CEO Tappx) asks: What’s a thing you would change if you could restart your company now?
We learned the importance of maintaining the focus on the right issues. When you’re growing really fast, it’s quite easy to disperse your energy on things that, after all, don’t matter that much.
And what’s a question you’d like to ask the other CEOs and founders that I’m interviewing in this series of Growth Stories?
I’m actually fascinated by the first question that you asked me. “What’s the single factor that you think contributed the most to your growth?”
TNW X partners with Dutch unicorn Adyen to organize Tech5 – our annual competition that celebrates Europe’s fastest-growing tech companies. The finale will be held the 24th of May at TNW Conference. Did you already get your ticket?