Phillip Mintchin founded Splyt two years ago along with four co-founding members. Back then, he wanted to start an Uber competitor in London after realising that, although the market was quickly growing, there was no second player in the city. Following this, Mintchin was approached by the largest taxi fleet in Brussels, who wanted to use Splyt’s technology to help its traditional taxi company keep up with new competition. This then quickly shifted the focus onto producing a white label application to the sector in Europe, so that many companies who were experiencing the same pressure could remain competitive.
Mintchin tells me that the goal was simple: “We wanted people to be able to roam between each other. On one hand, we wanted to create a local solution and, on the other, we wanted to be a global player.” After Brussels, Splyt managed to secure several cities across Europe which helped the startup get involved with large e-hailing companies. “We notice that, although they would never give up their technology or front-end application, they all faced the problem that they were very fragmented,” Mintchin explains. “They all had certain territories that they were fighting for and understood that they could only reach a certain point, unable to enter new markets such as Asia or the Middle East.” This created a space in the market for Splyt, which wanted to take the core element out of its application, roaming, and become a network for the world's largest e-hailing operators. “We made this decision seven months ago and now we cover over 380 cities including all of South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It was a really good decision from us and it seems that we have managed to solve a problem that even the largest e-hailing systems, no matter how much funding they had, could not overcome,” says Mintchin. This gives Splyt an edge in the e-hailing market, breaking down the barrier for mobility service providers so that they can enter markets that they originally thought were out of reach.
There is nothing worse than leaving your hometown and not being able to access your local e-hailing service provider, struggling to find another application to carry out the same task. This means that mobility providers are losing out to rival companies across different regions, as customers are forced to move to another application in order to keep using e-hailing services. This is where Splyt comes in, creating a network that allows customers to continue using the same service on their phone wherever they are, in the same currency they had been using on the original application. By creating a solution for global brand engagement, Mintchin’s company has taken a new approach to the e-hailing market and, rather than joining the competitive sector, has focused on further developing the infrastructure.
“We like to call ourselves the backbone of e-hailing infrastructure for global roaming e-hailing organisations.” says Mintchin. “We built a flexible system that allows an e-hailing player to choose which organisation is used abroad in different regions to roam. We understand that, on a shareholder level, there is a lot of friction and therefore you would never see certain players roaming with each other.” This is a welcomed idea for the e-hailing market as, at the moment, companies seem to be caught up in turf wars as people are trying to dominate as much land as possible. Splyt's approach creates an infrastructure for global ride hailing for everybody, allowing mutual benefits. The backbone infrastructure, utilsed through an application programming interface (API), allows companies to come to Splyt and adapt their business structure to ride hailing services. This is important as the integration process needs to be hassle-free, for both e-hailing services and customers, allowing a smooth transition without having to change anything on their end.
A rideshare initiative between Didi, Lyft Inc., Grab and Ola, which many called the ‘anti-Uber alliance’, was the nearest thing to what we are seeing with Splyt today. However, this partnership stopped in March earlier this year, after difficulties with integration, payments and overall experience. Mintchin tells me that he learned a lot of vital information by analysing the short-lived alliance, especially in regards to building strong relationships with all of the companies involved with Splyt. “We managed to assign three major problems to the rideshare initiative: technology, invoicing and education. The technical problem was that there were too many integrations going on between each other, with no intermediary platform that would root the requests to the required partner. It became a spiderweb of systems which were too resource-hungry to maintain and, considering that all of these players prioritised their local operations, these things were always neglected. The more APIs you have to maintain, the more complicated it becomes. We are selling ourselves as the intermediary entity that only requires one API connection with each player and we make sure that we route the request to the correct partner,” he says.
The second problem, Mintchin explains, was invoicing. “We have approached this in a way that customers are charged as a user in their local currency on their local application.” For example, if you are a Lyft user in the US travelling to Dubai, you will see your fare in dollars, which makes everything easier for both parties. Splyt holds multicurrency accounts all over the world which allows the company to pay out and receive payments in a range of different currencies. This helps create a simple ecosystem that benefits the customer and allows businesses to become more fluid across the world. As we have seen with Uber and Lyft, this simplicity is what drives success for a mobility service provider, but moving into new regions is always difficult.
However, the biggest problem that the industry faces today is finding out who is going to educate the customer, such as how to create the e-hailing software and map major hubs such as airports and train stations. “We've developed a solution for this and will be launching a software development kit (SDK) at the end of the year,” says Mintchin. By using an SDK, Splyt can utilise its global database of airports, train stations and other major areas which are highly traveled by tourists. Through utilising the infrastructure that Splyt has created, there is now a platform for everyone to benefit from. “On a daily basis, we make it our goal to simplify the integration process,” confirms Mintchin.
E-hailing and ridesharing have only become available over the last few years, but have revolutionised transportation. The demand for owning a personal vehicle is quickly declining as the growing number of mobility services become a genuine substitute for vehicle ownership, especially in cities. “The number of people who own a vehicle is declining thanks to millennials who are leaning towards ride hailing applications and car sharing services,” adds Mintchin. “From that point of view, I would say that ride hailing has reshaped the industry and we will definitely see more people switching over from vehicle ownership to ride sharing services.”
Many OEMs are yet to focus on ridesharing, however newer players such as Tesla are now looking to continue selling vehicles but allow ridesharing services when they are not in use. OEMs, which were traditionally very linear, are now realising this shift and are investing in carsharing and ridesharing services in order to generate additional profit in the growing market. Automakers need to understand that they cannot just build a car and sell it directly to the customer in the future, but recognise that vehicles can be utilsed in mobility services, post sale. Ultimately, this shows how much of an effect future mobility is having on the automotive industry, which has had the same ideologies and processes for decades, based on a build to sell model. “With these huge multinational corporations, it takes a long time to adapt to innovations like e-hailing and, when they do come in, they will start to actively invest and re-brand themselves as mobility companies in the automotive space,” Mintchin echoes. “At some point we may see more merges and platforms that provide additional services, rather than how it is separated today. Therefore, we are hoping that we're betting on the right horse and territory that these companies are moving into.” Truly, this is an emerging sector that will significantly affect people around the world. No matter what culture or background, mobility services are ready to transform the way we live. In addition, despite only being formed two years ago, the rapid growth of Splyt truly highlights the demand for a platform like this which can provide mutual benefits to all those involved in the e-hailing industry.