Continuing this week’s tech theme on the blog, this week’s Small Business Star is tech start-up entrepreneur Bryony Cooper. As founder and director of T Dispatch, a white label management system for passenger transport systems, Bryony knows what it takes to stay competitive in the fast-changing tech market.
In 2010, while running a web development agency, Bryony had her first foray into the taxi and private hire industry when she launched a London cab booking website called Tick Tock Taxi. With this B2C platform they successfully recruited around 40 fleets as the suppliers.
Armed with the insights from Tick Tock Taxi, Bryony and her partners co-founded T Dispatch in 2012, with the aim to create cloud-based tools for transport fleet management. The three of them relocated to Berlin after receiving their first seed funding from a start-up incubator.
Today, T Dispatch builds cutting-edge fleet management systems for passenger transport companies across the globe with a team of 14, hailing from all over the world. With a SaaS model and white-label apps for end-consumers, T Dispatch lets traditional fleets stay competitive in a fast-changing market.
1. Our previous insight paved the way for T Dispatch
Tick Tock Taxi showed us that, behind the scenes, cab fleets faced a big problem: the dispatch software used by these companies was very out-dated with expensive hardware installed to individual workstations, which resulted in them using old radios and no software at all.
We decided to build a web-based dispatch system that was affordable for any sized fleet and would also be adaptable to new technologies entering the market, such as smartphone apps. Dispatch software hadn’t changed much in the last 20 years, so it was crying out for a new solution.
2. The first year of business was mostly spent developing and getting feedback
We launched a beta version within six months to get some real user feedback; as a B2B enterprise software, it’s really important to ensure your solution has optimal usability for your clients. Because the founders’ experience was in technology and marketing, the industry experience and feedback was integral to our product.
This year we have launched T Dispatch 2.0 – the new generation of our software. It’s much faster, more stable and scalable – we now have clients live across six continents so we had to be prepared for major growth. We used our learnings from the past year to shape this new version of the product.
3. Our greatest success so far has been raising $1m in funding from investors
This has allowed the company to stay afloat through the development and beta phases, and we’re now in the position to grow exponentially.
Being part of the start-up scene in Berlin has opened up a whole new world to us. We’re surrounded by technical innovation, venture capitalists and angel investors looking out for the next big thing and, of course, some competitors who are catching up fast. We’ve had to learn to be fast and adaptable to stay ahead of the game.
The passenger transport industry is moving so fast; now there are many successful B2C booking apps with really sleek user experience. We work with the latest technologies to ensure our clients are already future-proof and can stay competitive.
4. We never stop developing our system
Our system can aggregate multiple booking channels into one platform via our API. We’re also proud to have a solution that is flexible enough to be used by different types of fleets across the world; from taxis in NYC to limousines in London, rickshaws in India and food deliveries in Asia. Being open and customisable is what makes our system such a strong contender in the smart mobility space.
Our dream is to integrate with all the popular booking apps and websites, providing them with more suppliers whilst generating more bookings for our clients. It’s a win-win strategy for industry players.
5. Sometimes you have to trust your gut
You can try to prepare yourself by reading up on business in your sector, through training and mentorship (something I’ve found very valuable). But sometimes you have to trust your gut feeling – when to take risks, which investors to trust. You also have to make some hard decisions to do what’s best for the company. That’s the part that’s never easy.
6. Know your clients, know your market and know your competitors
Keep your finger on the pulse so that you know what’s happening in your industry.You’ll be looked to as an expert in that field, so you should know about any changes before your clients do – whether that’s a new legislation, a new competitor or new technologies available.
I’d also advise founders to look after themselves. You will feel the pressure to work 16 hours a day, and that might even be necessary on some occasions – but you’re most valuable to the company when you’re productive and motivated. If you’re passionate about your product, it shows (and it sells) – so don’t burn yourself out.
To find out more about Bryony and T Dispatch please visit: http://tdispatch.com/
For more advice and insight from business owners, visit our Small Business Stars hub.