GrabTaxi CEO: 3 Advices for Mobile Developers

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anthony-tan-grabtaxi-in-front-of-taxi1-e1404817798736“Top mobile developers not only know how to code, but they also know how their code solves the user’s problem.”

– Anthony Tan, GrabTaxi Founder & CEO

Anthony Tan founded GrabTaxi in Malaysia in 2012. It was one year after winning one of the top places in a business plan competition at Harvard Business School.

So far GrabTaxi is in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. GrabTaxi Vietnam launched in June 2014.

I chatted with Anthony via Skype recently.

What is GrabTaxi?

GrabTaxi is a smartphone-based, two-sided service that matches taxi drivers and passengers. It is transforming the way people take transportation.

How does it work?

You just open the GrabTaxi app on your smartphone and tap to request a taxi. In seconds you’ll see a confirmation from the driver that includes his (or her) name, photo, mobile number and an estimate of the price of your trip. Then you can watch a real-time map as the taxi approaches your location to pick you up.

Why now?

There’s no “right time” to start a business. The question I asked myself was “Is there a real problem here to solve?” Good businesses and good apps solve real problems that people have.

GrabTaxi solves some real problems for our customers, taxi drivers and taxi passengers. We make it easier and faster for drivers to find customers nearby, saving them time and helping them get more business.

We make it more convenient for passengers because they can tap a button to order a taxi. Then they know instantly when that taxi will arrive along with the estimated fare. No more waiting, wondering when a taxi will show up.

Do you think there will be more app-based business models in Southeast Asia?

Oh yes, absolutely.

Does that mean developers with mobile app skill will be in high demand?

Yes and no. Rock-star mobile developers will have lots of amazing opportunities. Average mobile developers won’t.

What makes a “rock-star mobile developer?”

Coding quality and the discipline to get things right. Not a diva. Humble. A person who feels responsibility and ownership not just for the code, but for the value the app delivers to the end-user.

Top mobile developers not only know how to code, but they also know how their code solves the user’s problem. Our top engineers know how to write tight code. They also know WHY they code the features they do. Understanding how our technology solves business problems is key to our engineers ability to deliver a great service. grabtaxi-app

What are the elements of a great mobile app?

Great mobile apps solve problems and are localized. Localization means the app is customized to fit local customs and preferences in each market.

Look at how Line (Japanese) and WhatsApp (American) have followed different strategies in Asia. Line is super big in Thailand because they’ve localized content in Thai. They allow Thai’s to say things they are not normally comfortable expressing. WhatsApp is a great app, but they have not localized.

That’s why we are building a Vietnamese team and hiring Vietnamese developers. It’s important to us to localize GrabTaxi to Vietnamese tastes.

What advice do you have for how ITviec users can develop their mobile app development skills?

Three advices:

  • Develop your own stuff as soon as you can. It’s so important to develop your own apps, get them listed and get people to use them. That’s the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t is where technology meets users.
  • Join a startup. The best way to learn is by doing. Joining a small product company will give you an opportunity to do everything — front-end, back-end, UX… That is the best way to feel the pain of users. You’ll also learn how things really work.
  • Work hard and take responsibility for learning. Becoming a great developer isn’t easy. You have to work hard — first in school and then in the real world. Don’t wait for others to teach you.

Why should ITviec users consider working at GrabTaxi?

We are the fastest-growing startup in Southeast Asia.

We are changing the way people move. We also are a great place to learn incredibly fast. We help our developers develop their business skills by sending them to different markets to work with business managers.

If you want to learn and be part of history in the making, check out our jobs and apply today.

Thanks Anthony.

Thanks Chris.


Click to send Anthony and GrabTaxi a tweet to thank him for this interview.

I used the GrabTaxi app twice last week in Binh Thanh district. Both times I got a Mai Linh taxi in about 5 minutes. The estimated fare shown by the app closely predicted the actual fare. The drivers seemed pretty happy with GrabTaxi.

Check it out yourself! Download the GrabTaxi iOS app for free in the Apple Store or Android app in the Google Play Store.

Have you used GrabTaxi, Uber or RocketTaxi apps in Vietnam yet? Share your experience below!