Brian Martin with Michael Flanagan of Kabzy
Blueface was delighted to present Michael Flanagan, winner of our Web Summit Competition, with a cheque for €1,000. We caught up with Michael to learn more about his start up - Kabzy.
What is Kabzy?
Kabzy provides all vehicle owners and particularly taxi drivers with a unique vehicle security product.
Our taxi product connects any driver to a trained emergency response operator with one tap of our in-vehicle panic button. We also use a CCTV camera to keep a record of an incident, so liability in the event of an accident or incident can be clearly proven. If a taxi is hijacked or stolen, we have the capability to safely disable the vehicle in seconds and it is tracked at all times.
We also provide car owners with the ability to safely disable their vehicle from their smartphone from anywhere in the world – within seconds. With the Kabzy mobile app, you can disable your car at night and even if your keys are stolen your car is not going anywhere. With one tap of a button in the app, you can enable your car in less than 4 seconds. You can also track your vehicle at all times and set a virtual fence around your car so if it is illegally moved you are instantly notified.
What triggered you to start Kabzy?
I had been working on a taxi safety product for passengers for three years, so I was in the taxi space. From speaking to many taxi drivers it was apparent that there was a real need for a service that protects drivers, so we pivoted the business around this problem. The number of taxi hijackings are growing rapidly, so we set out to create a service that covers as many angles as possible for drivers.
When we came up with the product I demonstrated it to friends and family and there was a consistent reaction throughout every demo I did. What I kept hearing was, “I would use that in my car!”. It became apparent that this product appeals to everyone who owns a car and not just taxi drivers. Whether you are a private car owner or a fleet manager, having the ability to safely disable your vehicle and track it from your smartphone is a useful product, and as they say ‘the rest is history’.
What has the feedback been like so far?
The feedback has been amazing. When we tell taxi drivers and car owners what it can do, they are amazed. There is nothing else like this available and we believe that this is the future of vehicle security. Peoples’ reactions have been one of my main driving forces through the difficult times. Their reactions have bolstered my thoughts that we are onto something big here, so there’s no turning back now.
What difficulties have you encountered along the way?
For the taxi industry one of our biggest problems was making the product affordable to taxi drivers. We install a lot of hardware into the taxi and it doesn’t come cheap. Over the past six months we’ve worked hard to look at ways how we can reduce the upfront cost to the driver as much as we possibly can. We now offer a package where they can pay on a weekly basis.
Another difficulty I faced was convincing taxi owners that this new technology will bring value to their business. Our technology is completely new to the taxi industry, so it was difficult to persuade taxi fleet owners that this is the way forward. Thankfully in June this year we signed our first large taxi customer who are Ozone Cabs, who are based in Bluebell Business Park, D12. Ozone embrace new technology and have fitted their entire taxi fleet with Kabzy. Ozone recognised that by adding driver security to their fleet that this gave their rental company a greater competitive edge. Having a large reference customer like Ozone makes it a lot easier when we approach other Taxi companies.
What’s next in your plan for growing Kabzy?
At the moment we are sales focused. We have a great product but we now need to tell the world about it. We have just secured Enterprise Ireland funding and also private investment, so our aim now is to build a strong customer base internationally. We believe providing the owner with the ability to secure their vehicle from their smartphone is the future for vehicle security. We are currently in talks with some of the major insurance companies working on the potential for reduced vehicle premiums for having Kabzy installed.
If I wanted to put Kabzy in my car, what would it cost me?
The price is €395 which includes taxes, installation and 12 months monitoring. For this you can track your vehicle 24/7, disable it anytime, anywhere and set a virtual fence around your car all by simply pressing a button from your phone.
Do you have a particular target market outside of Ireland you’re looking to break into?
The U.K. is the obvious choice with over 36 million vehicles on the road. In May this year, I spent three weeks in London knocking on doors and getting feedback on our product. The response was fantastic and I learnt so much about the taxi market, but also the private car and fleet market too. Over the next 12 months I’ve set ourselves a target of entering the UK market and we plan to achieve this through strategic partnerships with a number of talks already underway. There are exciting times ahead.