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How e-hail app Hailo is playing by the rules to take on Uber and Lyft

Caitlin McGarry | July 23, 2014
We sat down with Hailo's Kevin Hatfield to talk about ridesharing, surge-pricing, and winning over New York.

One of the ways you've attracted new users is through the liberal use of promo codes and free rides. How long will you use that tactic?
Hatfield: People love their promo codes. We're happy that they love them. Like any other industry and any other product, as you introduce it, there are dollars you give: whether those are rebates toward consumer packaged goods or a promo code for a service like ourselves. At the moment we have some pretty generous promo codes, but those are introducing our new Hailo+ service. As usage starts to balance, that'll potentially taper off. We're using it as an introductory promotional tactic.

Lyft is hoping New York legalizes and regulates its peer-to-peer ride-sharing model. Given your experience with regulators here, do you think that's likely?
Hatfield: A couple of our competitors are in the ride-share space. There's a really fine line between how they operate in New York and how they operate in other markets. If you really peel back the layers, you can see both the Taxi and Limousine Commission and the state of New York have ensured that they're following the rules. What appears to be happening is that's exactly what those competitors are working on right now. They're figuring out a way to fit within the rule structure.

At least for the moment, we believe they will ultimately follow the exact same structure that ourselves and every other competitor has followed here. That said, we're in support of evolving that rule structure, because we believe there are parts of it that need to evolve and change. The more of us that are involved in helping to evolve that, the better.

Uber has said that if the TLC approves ride-sharing, they'll hop on board. What about you?
Hatfield: Our mantra has always been licensed, insured, approved drivers. As that model applies to more than just taxi or black car, we'd consider it. It's essential that we consider all options on the table. The key is they would always be an officially approved, sanctioned service.

What's next?
Hatfield: We'll continue to look for opportunities to expand in North American cities. In some of our markets, we're continuing to expand. We may not advertise it as much--like in D.C., we launched Arlington and Alexandria. We also launched Atlanta. There are a number of other North American cities that are in queue.

What about new features?
Hatfield: It depends on the market. Some markets will continue to see expanded options around how to get a ride. There's currently two services in New York, and soon there will be three [Hailo Black, a black-car service]. In some markets, you still see a single choice, but soon, you'll see a second or even a third. Given our roots, we're filling out the East Coast at the moment, and we'll continue to consider other markets.

 

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