An interview with one of Skype’s developers, Taxify co-founder Martin Vilig
– Your name is associated with the development of “Skype” and “Taxify”. What factors caused the Estonian company’s interest in the Georgian market?
Georgia is a rapidly growing market. In addition, we found here good partners. It is also important that in Georgia the taxi industry is deregulated, there was no management system for taxi companies, so the demand for high-quality, sophisticated service definitely exists. For this reason we decided to enter the Georgian market.
Taxify is regarded as one of the fastest growing taxi booking applications in Eastern and Central Europe. Taxify lets you choose a taxi based on arrival time, price list, car model and user feedback ratings. After confirming your order, you can also track your taxi’s pending arrival on a map in real time.
-Who are your partners?
The Georgian company “Infinite MCG” is Taxify’s official exclusive representative in Georgia.
– How profitable is Taxify project and do you have competitors in the Georgian market?
– Taxify project has justified in Georgia. In the future, I think it will bring more success. As for the competitors, I know that several Russian and Ukrainian applications are operating in Georgia. But I think that Taxify is an internationally recognized brand which has more potential for the development and improvement of operations than even the Georgian, Russian and Ukrainian applications operating in Georgia at the moment.
We don’t have a rival in Georgia. Many companies enter the Georgian market but close soon. The only company that can be considered as a competitor is the American “Uberia”. Having global approach, the company strives to operate in all countries. Therefore, sooner or later they will come in Georgia.
-You have been working in the Georgian market since September 2014. During this period what trends were revealed, what is the interest of the Georgian consumers and what are the prices?
-Consumers are active. Prices correspond to market. There may be minor differences, however, I think they are acceptable given the application reliability and service quality.
– Are you going to offer any innovation to the Georgian consumers?
-Taxify is innovation in itself. In addition, we plan to expand functions. In Georgia there is a very different approach to the taxi industry. Division into zones and fixed rates are out of date. It has no longer been used anywhere. The meter is integrated into our application that will allow more accurately and fairly calculate the tariff. App calculates a fare considering distance and waiting time.
-As far as I know, Skype is working on new features for its messenger. How do you see its future, what are the advantages and distinguishing features compared to other similar programs?
Well, I am no longer actively involved in the development and marketing of Skype as before. However, I can tell you that in the near future Skype will be oriented on video calls and video communication. Big changes are planned in this regard. In addition to the sophisticated video-communication service, the chat service will be maintained. Skype is among the top three companies by the number of users. Facebook’s messaging mission leads, the second is Whatsapp and the third is Skype.
If you are familiar with the business environment in Georgia, how would you rate, where it is easier to start and develop a business, here or in your country?
This is first time I have been to Georgia, I do not know the local business environment very well. But I noticed that the government encourages start-up funding. It is important when businessmen help each other in startup environment. This is an Estonian experience where the best business environment is created for start-ups. lGeorgia can adopt Estonian experience. Estonian side is ready for it.
What is principal for business development – a perfect business idea , creating innovative products or finances?
Several components are the key to successful business. But in my opinion, the most important is a team. Skype was not the first messenger. We have been able to do what others failed. In my opinion, it was a merit of a good team.
-The Georgian experts often talk about the problems of small businesses and name the lack of business education one of the key problems . How important is this argument and what is the situation in your country in this regard?
-Appropriate education is very important in business development. Similar problems exist in Estonia. We have a lot of specialists, who can create a good product, however, later find it difficult to sell it. Ie, face difficulties in marketing. Therefore, Estonians try to adopt foreign experience. I think a practical approach is more justified. There should be more communication with successful businessmen in the local market.
– What advice would you give the business?
It is very difficult to give specific advice to businessmen. I would advise businessmen working in my field no to think for a long time on product development, as soon as the idea comes, create a prototype and test in the market. It is important to get recommendations from the user as quickly as possible. If you see that this product works, try to develop it quickly, but if you see the opposite, you should stop. I advise Georgian businessmen not to be focused only on the Georgian market. On the contrary, they should think globally.