Ordering a taxi seems simple enough: just call an operator, say where you need to go and wait. But it turns out that tapping a mobile app a few times is even easier than talking to an operator. The Maxim app is a case in point, making it possible to quickly order a car to the required place at the required time.
The orphan Maksim Belonogov's paging business failed completely, but he managed to create a taxi aggregator. Today, Maxim's annual turnover exceeds 5 billion roubles, and the company works with more than 500,000 taxi drivers in Russia and abroad.
In its first rebranding since 2004, Maxim, a Russian taxi ordering service, has changed its logo, according to vc.ru.
The Russian taxi market has always been complex and nontransparent. Experts are extremely reluctant to evaluate it and speak about how market share is distributed among its players. Rusbase has tried to find out how this market functions, where it is going, and who’s leading the way.
Meet Russia’s No. 1 taxi service. Each day, Maxim receives 15 times more orders than Yandex.Taxi (1 million vs 60.000 daily). Maksim Belonogov started the company in Kurgan and it now operates in 89 Russian cities...
Ordering a taxi seems simple enough: just call an operator, say where you need to go and wait. But it turns out that tapping a mobile app a few times is even easier than talking to an operator. The Maxim app is a case in point, making it possible to quickly order a car to the required place at the required time. The customers see ride prices in advance. It also offers services like "Designated Driver", jumpstart, freight transportation, and many others.
The Maxim app is the mobile client for the Maxim taxi ordering service, which is well-known both in Russia and abroad. Maxim currently operates in more than three hundred cities in ten countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan, Italy, and Kyrgyzstan. Almost every one of these cities has a Maxim office where users can get help with their issues. Or if they don't want to go anywhere, customer support is available around the clock.
You can always use Maxim to order a taxi over the phone, but it's far more convenient to use the app. Here's why:
See the review on 4pda.ru for more details
"I have never worked for anybody in my life. I've always been an entrepreneur," says Maksim Belonogov, co-founder of the Maxim taxi aggregator. In his final years of high school, he resold newspapers and had a side job on a "meat wagon" transporting dead bodies for an emergency hospital. The normal employees would sometimes hit the sauce, so the highschooler took their place.
Maxim's mother died when he was 16, making him an orphan. He used his orphan benefit to buy a Pentium computer and a printer. Together with Oleg Shlepanov, his fellow student and future partner, he downloaded research papers from the FidoNet, printed them, and sold them to other students. Later, he sold phones and gas equipment for cars, and worked part-time as a mover. At age 22, the entrepreneur got married and his wife gave birth to a daughter, so he had to provide for his family.
Maksim Belonogov founded his first proper business in Shadrinsk, a small town 140 km from Kurgan. In an interview with the RBC, he said that he didn't succeed on the first try. Together with Oleg Shlepanov, the entrepreneur rented an office, set up a radio transmitter, bought a "Mobil Telekom" franchise and started a paging business. This business failed swiftly and abruptly when mobile network operators entered the mobile communications market. At the time, Belonogov was already employing eight operators, so he decided to establish a taxi service. He got a radio and antenna from an acquaintance taxi driver, set up the equipment, and tried to find some taxi drivers. The entrepreneurs leased a multichannel telephone number so that they would always be available during rush hours when their competitors were not. "As soon as they found out we could give them work, the drivers themselves started to come to us," Belonogov recalled.
When they understood their business model was working, the entrepreneurs expanded their operations to neighboring cities: Kurgan, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, etc. "In Tyumen, we earned huge amounts of money that we had never seen in Shadrinsk and could only dream about in Kurgan. We noticed our progress," Belonogov recalled.
Russia's taxi market
According to the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation, the size of the Russian taxi market has increased by 14.2% annually over the last two years, reaching 575 billion roubles at the end of 2017. Research showed that the market's biggest player is the Vezet Group, holding a 12.3% market share. It was created following the merger of the Fasten Russia (operating under the Saturn and RedTaxi brands) and Vezet (RuTaxi, Lider, Vezet brands). At the end of 2017, the combined share of Yandex.Taxi and Uber was 10.4% of the market. Maxim takes third place with 7.6%, while Gett stands at 2.5%. In all, the aggregators account for 32.8% of the Russian taxi market. The rest is held by traditional offline ordering companies.
The main difference between Maxim and the many other taxi dispatch companies is that the two partners realized they should automate their business and focus on the Internet. In an interview with Sekret Firmy, Belonogov shared that the orders were initially written in a notebook, and ride distances were only roughly estimated, but soon the partners hired their first programmers. The mobile app for taxi drivers appeared in 2007 (portable radio sets were used before that). Then an app was created specifically for passengers (for comparison, Uber was founded in 2009, while Yandex.Taxi appeared only in 2011). The app wasn't very popular with passengers, but the partners kept investing in technology. "We are an IT company," stresses Belonogov at every opportunity.
Maxim's geographic expansion, its own mobile app, and automation of its business processes let the company become one of the market leaders in Russia. According to Maxim representative Pavel Stennikov, more than 6.000 people now work at Belonogov's and Shlepanov's company (each partner holds a 50% of stake) company. The service operates in 264 cities in Russia and 326 cities in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Georgia, and other countries. The RBC estimated the company's annual turnover at 6 billion roubles in 2016. Belonogov says that 500.000 drivers connected to the system complete about a million of orders each day.
Full text on RBC:
The new logo is free of clutter and leaves behinds the connection with the company's distant past, when it was a taxi service. The logo abandons the taxi box, and its corporate red square has evolved into a geotag, symbolizing the company’s present and the future as a global information service.
The first logo was created in 2004, a year after the company was founded. Maxim will gradually introduce the new brand in apps, payment terminals, websites, advertisements, documents, etc.
Maxim operates in more than 130 Russian cities, as well as in cities of Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Bulgaria. According to the company's own data, it facilitates about 1 million trips per day. According to experts surveyed by Rusbase, at the beginning of 2016 Maxim ranked third among Russia’s major taxi services, behind the companies Vezet and Saturn, by volume of trips (1.6 million and 1.4 million trips respectively). Since 2016, the company has begun to expand the network through franchising.
In just a few years, mobile technologies have revolutionized the taxi industry, making it highly competitive. Life got much easier for passengers: car arrival time has been cut many times over and taxi rides are far less expensive.
The Russian Public Opinion Research Center's November opinion poll revealed that residents of large cities are using taxi services twice as frequently, and they are pleased with the quality of services they receive (cars arrive fast, drivers are polite, passengers can pay using a bank card). According to analysts, unlicensed taxi drivers' share of the market has decreased from 80% to 30% in three years thanks to the taxi ordering apps. In addition, the increasing popularity of taxi services reduces the load on city infrastructure and is good for the environment. In short, the taxi market’s adoption of mobile apps benefits everybody — cities, passengers, and intermediaries — except the drivers themselves, who have to work more for less money due to dumping.
There are two kinds of players in the market: taxi companies with their own vehicle fleets and taxi service aggregators. The latter enter into contracts with either taxi companies (Yandex.Taxi) or drivers registered as sole proprietors (Uber, Gett, Maxim, Lider, Saturn). According to some estimates, taxi services provide more than half of the taxi rides in Moscow.
While big-city taxi aggregators — Yandex.Taxi, Gett and Uber — reign in the media, the federal dispatch trio — Rutaxi, Saturn and Maxim — hold a solid lead across the country. They tend to keep a low profile, don't disclose their performance numbers and almost never talk to journalists.
"They are the real market leaders, perhaps even globally," argues Mikhail Vinogradov. "They are Russian 'Ubers', if you will, effective and self-sufficient, too." Gennady Kotov, head of Cat Taxi, agrees that behind-the-scenes regional power brokers remain the true masters of the market. He says that there is a huge gap between the federal trio and the rest of the market participants. According to preliminary estimates, Rutaxi, Saturn and Maxim collectively complete roughly 4 million rides every day, accounting for 40%, 35%, and 25% of this number respectively.
Meet Russia’s No. 1 taxi service. Each day, Maxim receives 15 times more orders than Yandex.Taxi (1 million vs 60.000 daily). Maksim Belonogov started the company in Kurgan and it now operates in 89 Russian cities. Its closest competitor — Rutaxi, an app used by the Vezet and Lider services — operates in 82 cities. Competitors, officials, and lobbyists demonize Maxim, but Belonogov keeps opening new branch offices and, starting in 2014, expanded operations beyond Russia.
The entrepreneur wouldn't give an interview, but his business has grown too large to remain unnoticed. According to our calculations, the company's daily turnover is at least 10 mln roubles.
Sekret tells the story of Maxim and its founder.