5 mins with…Daniel Ishag, founder and CEO of Karhoo

We chat with Daniel Ishag founder and CEO of cab comparison and booking app, Karhoo. Launched in May, Karhoo has gone from strength to strength, taxi companies are even hiring more drivers for the demand!

Daniel Ishag KarhooPlease explain who you are, what your business is, and what it does/aims to achieve?

My name is Daniel Ishag and I am the founder and CEO of Karhoo, the new cab comparison and booking app.

We are a market place for licensed and accredited fleets around the world. Think of us as Expedia but for ground transportation. We are offering more choice for consumers and bringing more work to fleets and drivers that have been losing jobs in recent years to other single network operators.

With our scalable model, we are bringing on-demand services to four or five times the geographical area of a city – more than any other single network operator can do – and that puts us in a very unique position.

We launched in London on May 9 and after just a few weeks fleets were telling us that they were busy rehiring drivers because the workload was shooting up. We now account for double digit percentage of revenue for the majority of London’s top fleets and more than 30% of the work load of many mid sized fleets.

I would argue that the figures we are seeing in London – for bookings, users and revenue, is far ahead of anything seen before after just seven weeks. It proves how much the fleets needed a vendor neutral platform to help level the playing field and get them more work – and how much consumers value us.

In terms of achievement, we will be in thirty cities around the world by the end of the year and in a hundred within a year. This summer we will be in 14 cities around the UK, in Europe, NYC and then Singapore before branching out.

What is your favourite part of your job and what is your least favourite part?

There are so many great things about this job. I love getting in front of fleet owners and explaining to them that we are not a threat, but are here to help them and when you see that light switch on in their head, it is a great feeling. Also, seeing the numbers growing every day is extremely satisfying. It shows that consumers love our vendor neutral platform. We launched in London a couple of months ago and we are beating all industry expectations. Within a few weeks fleet owners were telling us that business had increased 20-30 per cent and they were rehiring drivers. I honestly do not think I have a least favourite part. I and all the great people at Karhoo around the world are always pushing to do more, be better and if there are challenges, that is when the fun really starts.

What has been the biggest challenge for your business?

When you start a company from scratch, especially a global company, there are so many things that you have to get right. We are integrating thousands of different dispatch systems around the world, some are old, some are new, but they all have to work and that has been a challenge, but also one of the greatest successes. There are greater minds than mine working at Karhoo who have made this possible. Identifying these people, is a great success.

What would you consider to be your greatest success?

Maybe having the confidence to go with an idea that I think will work.

Because I don’t have an academic background, I’ve never had any choice but to simply go ahead and do things.

A lot of people – including people I am proud to work with, and other people who I respect enormously and indeed in many cases look up to – have more choices because they are so well educated. Sometimes that can mean that they never actually start anything themselves: and that’s half the problem – or half the blessing – of being them, or being me.

Karhoo was born when I was in a hotel in California. I had booked a car to take me home from a night out and it cancelled, then the next one did the same and two after that. I eventually got to the hotel and the next day I was booking a flight online, looking for the best deal and it came to me…why can’t you do this for ground transportation? Within a day I was on a plane ready to start on the prototype.

Have you made any mistakes along the way and how did you overcome them/learn from them?

I think every entrepreneur will tell you that they have made mistakes – you have to. The very essence of what you are doing means it has not been done before so you are always breaking new ground, pushing technologies and perceived thinking. If you are not making mistakes then you could say that you are not pushing hard enough, not looking for that Eureka moment as much as you should be. Having a vision of where you want to be in five or ten years time is crucial so every mistake is just an opportunity to do it better and get to where you want to be.

What would you be doing if you weren’t running your own business?

Since I left school at 17, I have mostly worked for myself. If I wasn’t running my own business I have no idea what I was doing….maybe running a bar on a beach – I doubt anyone would give me a job!

Do you manage to achieve a good work/life balance?

There are many types of entrepreneur and there are many ways of being entrepreneurial. From my experience, the most successful entrepreneurs don’t see it as a job. It’s a way of life. You’re mixing in your work culture and your social life, everything. It’s a mind-set, an attitude – or a lifestyle – more than it is a job.

I don’t see what I do as a job, it is a way of life – your work and social life mixes together. Having said that, it is important to be able to completely switch off and, a couple of times a year, I will take a few days to recharge the batteries and step back to look at where I am and make sure everything is on track. It’s important to allow your brain to filter all the information that you have taken in and see where you need to go next.