All hail the global taxi app
After unsuccessfully trying to catch a cab one night, Tallis Gomes got an idea that would grow into Easy Taxi, a global company that’s making it easier to get a ride.
Tallis had never heard the word “startup” when he decided to attend the first ever Startup Weekend in Brazil in 2011.
On his way to the event, after trying for more than half an hour to hail a taxi, Tallis became frustrated. That experience sparked the idea that would become a transportation service used by millions of people around the world.
“Waiting really bothers me because it’s about our time, and time is the most valuable asset in the world,” Tallis says.
“Startup Weekend completely changed my life and how I look at the world.”
Startup Weekend, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, is a 54-hour boot camp that allows anyone to turn their idea into a reality. Attendees arrive on Friday night, present ideas, form teams, and then work tirelessly through the weekend. They do research, interview potential customers, and build working prototypes of their product, with the help of Startup Weekend staff and mentors. On Sunday night, the teams regroup and pitch their new company to a panel of judges.
In 2011, Startup Weekend hosted their first ever event in Brazil. Not only was it a pivotal moment for Tallis, but he says it also brought the concept of startups and entrepreneurship to forefront of Brazilian culture.
“Startup Weekend kick-started a movement in Brazil,” Tallis says.
Though he and his team were initially working on another concept, they pivoted directions after Tallis’ frustrating taxi experience. They worked all weekend to pitch their idea on Sunday night, when Tallis and his team won the competition and launched Easy Taxi. The mobile app allows users to request a taxi with the tap of a button, connecting drivers and passengers in a much easier way.
“Startup Weekend is powerful. They teach you to get out of the building and validate your idea with real people. In three days, you actually make something. It teaches you how to be an entrepreneur,” Tallis says.
The Google for Entrepreneurs partnership with UP Global helps double the reach of UP programs including Startup Weekend, Startup Next, and Startup Digest. Through the partnership, UP Global will bring their programs for aspiring entrepreneurs to more than 1,000 thriving communities around the world by 2016.
“Our partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs has allowed us to exponentially scale our impact around the world,” says UP Global CEO Marc Nager.
“Our vision of what the world can truly be if everyone has access and opportunity aligns closely with Google as an entire organization.”
After their Startup Weekend win, Tallis and his team went to work. Unable to find early investors, Tallis sold his own car to bootstrap the company. When they struggled to find new drivers for the Easy Taxi platform, Tallis and his team headed to local gas stations to start recruiting.
“Being an entrepreneur is like having to to kill a lion every day. Everyday you're solving a big problem that could fail or could be the biggest opportunity of your life,” says the founder.
And the hard work has paid off. Easy Taxi quickly gained traction in Brazil, and is now operating in 162 cities across Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. In emerging markets where it can often be difficult to quickly and safely hail a cab, more than five million people use the service. The company has 1,300 full-time employees and has raised more than $27 million.
In three short years, Tallis Gomes went from not knowing the term “startup” to running a wildly successful company making waves around the world.
“Entrepreneurs are the people who get things done. I was a just guy who had a dream. And Easy Taxi fulfills my dream to make a difference in society,” he says.