Nearly three years ago, ride-hailing service TADA entered the Singapore market together with a slew of other companies.
Now, it is present in Vietnam and Cambodia as well with an estimated 100,000 drivers and 890,000 users.
Most recently, the company behind TADA — MVLLABS — raised US$15 million in Series B funding to build an electric vehicle (EV) model for launch in Cambodia. ONiON T1 is a modernised version of the traditional three-wheeled tuk-tuk, and will be added to TADA’s fleet in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
According to TADA founder Kay Woo, Cambodia has a very unique transportation system, and almost everyone uses platforms like TADA to hail for rides.
As three-wheelers (tuk-tuks) are the main medium for commuting and parcel deliveries, TADA saw a huge opportunity to change those Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) three-wheelers into electric vehicles.
To reduce the cost of ownership of TADA’s EVs as compared to ICE-based three-wheelers, its proposition is based on a cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly model supported by its ONiON battery swapping station infrastructure.
Most importantly, the 40-year-old founder believes that after refining this model in Cambodia, the team will be able to rapidly replicate this across South Asia and Africa.
TADA also has plans to support the shift towards sustainable mobility in Singapore by offering a localised version of the ONiON EV mode — electric two-wheelers supported by its battery swapping station and stand charger.
Gig workers, especially drivers, tend to be treated as expendable resources.
“When faced with this issue, most people look for either generous help in terms of funding or cutting-edge tech capabilities. Unfortunately, we had neither,” explained Kay.
That ultimately led them to going down the path no one had taken before — foregoing collecting money via commissions. By doing so, Kay believes that TADA can address gig workers’ pain points, and in turn, earn their loyalty to ensure the company’s survivability.
Since its launch in 2018, TADA does not charge any commission fees. Drivers get to keep the full revenue of each ride, excluding a transaction fee for credit or debit cards.
Over the years, the company has remained consistent to this promise, and Kay told Vulcan Post that TADA supports its drivers in whatever ways it can.
The drivers have in turn supported TADA by encouraging more drivers to join its network, thus expanding its reach and delivering a more reliable service to its riders.
Our strategy is not based on short term cash burning to acquire a large market share. We take a longer-term perspective of being able to consistently honour our promises. Our zero-commission model, based on the blockchain philosophy, promises that we are working towards creating an ecosystem of mutual benefit for each of our stakeholders.Kay Woo, Founder of TADA
Our strategy is not based on short term cash burning to acquire a large market share. We take a longer-term perspective of being able to consistently honour our promises.
Our zero-commission model, based on the blockchain philosophy, promises that we are working towards creating an ecosystem of mutual benefit for each of our stakeholders.
The zero-commission model also translates to lower prices for consumers. Here is a price comparison between TADA and and ride-hailing giants Grab and Gojek without surge pricing:
In most cases, TADA is the cheapest of the three players. In the event that customers request for an extra stop, an additional S$3 charge for the extra stop, as well as distance and time fares for the additional journey will be charged.
There is also a platform fee of S$0.30 for rides that cost below S$18, and S$0.50 for rides that cost above S$18.
Furthermore, TADA runs on an “incentive-based blockchain mobility ecosystem”, and the foundation of it is building is the Mass Vehicle Ledger (MVL) Blockchain protocol.
The ecosystem seeks to connect various stakeholders within the vehicle-related industry, including drivers, riders, auto manufacturers, repair service providers and insurance companies.
Through MVL, all ride data will be gathered onto a central database such that the entire ride history of a vehicle can be tracked, stored and readily available to parties in the ecosystem. Data collected include driving speeds, traffic records, and even vehicles’ repair history.
As an incentive, drivers will be rewarded with MVL points from providing rides, while riders can earn MVL points from leaving reviews after each ride.
These MVL points can then be converted into MVL coins, the digital token or cryptocurrency of MVL, which can eventually be used to redeem goods and services from MVL partners, or cashed out.
Kay told Vulcan Post that since MVLLABS started in 2012, it has failed more than three times. As technical founders, Kay and his co-founder Jay Han did not know how to raise awareness for their products.
“We made the same mistakes over and over again. Our biggest error was only seeking financial gains,” said Kay.
On hindsight, Kay realised that they should have focused on solving problems for people, rather than focusing only on profitability.
Eventually, after seven years of learning from their failures, the duo set up the MVL blockchain protocol and the TADA service.
When we first launched TADA, people said that we’d be gone within a year or would start to charge commission. Yet, we’ve proven them wrong and TADA has built a relationship of trust with our drivers, which I value more than financial returns. Kay Woo, Founder of TADA
When we first launched TADA, people said that we’d be gone within a year or would start to charge commission. Yet, we’ve proven them wrong and TADA has built a relationship of trust with our drivers, which I value more than financial returns.
Of course, the journey has not been easy. Kay believes that as one of the newer entrants in the industry, many improvements have to be made to catch up with “larger peers”.
In the last three years of operations, the tech team has made over 500 updates to meet the needs of their users, with over 100 updates made in just the first six months of launch.
The team is now working on increasing its ridership and building a loyal user base.
Earlier in March, the company launched its new corporate portal, TADA Corporate, to address businesses’changing transport needs.
The portal encompasses a suite of tools for streamlining administrative processes, provides business leaders with more flexibility in managing transport expenses, and is available to companies of all sizes.
From a single dashboard, corporate managers can allocate and modify budgets, as well as regulate employee access to company payment methods.
Any changes made in the TADA Corporate portal will be reflected in real-time, which provides chief decision-makers with a comprehensive overview of their expenses and allows them to seamlessly implement company transport policies.
In the long run, Kay envisions that TADA’s technology will power how people move across parts of India, Africa and Latin/Central America — regions they call the “TADA equator belt”.
“We imagine a world where our products and services will bring positive impact to the drivers living in this region, which in turn will bring change to the respective societies, environments and economies over the long-term,” said Kay.
Featured Image Credit: TADA
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