Launched in 2019, Drive is a taxi co-operative, based in Cardiff and wholly owned by its members, the drivers. It all started when a group of Cardiff taxi drivers came together to form the new co-operative with the sole purpose of fighting for a system that treats drivers fairly.
“The business is run on a not-for-profit basis which means that the member drivers pay the least amount possible in admin fees and to use our dispatch system, allowing them to potentially save up to £4-5,000 a year. This means that more money stays in the local economy rather than it being paid in dividends to shareholders and company bosses. Additionally, upon joining, every member driver will receive one share in the company which entitles them to a vote and a real say in how the co-operative is run.” (Paul O’Hara, Secretary and Founder)
What they did
“We were all uneasy at the way the taxi and private hire trade was heading, with large national taxi companies charging drivers more and more money to use their systems and the way they continue to recruit drivers without putting the extra measures in place to accommodate them. We then had the huge billion-dollar app companies entering the market and charging drivers up to 25% of every journey taken with them.
Most drivers in Cardiff are self-employed and a lot are struggling to make ends meet. We couldn’t change the amount we pay for insurance, license fees and fuel, but what we could influence is the amount we paid to operators. So, we decided to form the Cardiff Taxi Co-operative and we chose “Drive” as our trading name because that is the name of every cabby in Cardiff!
The founding members took approximately 9 months to plan and prepare for the launch of the business. We were mentored by Mark Jennings from the Southend Taxi Co-operative who has been a great help.
We sourced office space from another co-operative, Indycube, based in Cardiff Bay. We trialled different dispatch systems and phone line suppliers until we found the most reliable and cost-effective ones which best suited our needs. We then decided on our name and designed our own logo ready for the launch.”
What would they do differently
“At the moment, there is nothing we would do differently. Though this may change!”
Their proudest moment in business
“Hearing our customers praise our service – we do pride ourselves in our first-class customer service skills.”
Do they use Welsh in their business?
“Our business cards and receipts are bilingual. We are aiming to ensure we have at least one Welsh-speaking driver once the business is fully up and running.”
Describe the type of support (financial / non-financial) they’ve received from Business Wales / Welsh Government
The Welsh Government’s Business Wales advisers provided detailed pre-start support to Drive focusing on business planning, legislation and a suitable structure for the business. Growth Adviser Jamie Reynolds then assisted with their growth plans and advised on marketing management tools and the future sustainability of the co-operative.
As a result, Drive launched successfully on St David’s Day 2019 and have already created 9 jobs.
Paul said: “We’ve had an abundance of help and support from Business Wales – the advisers are at the end of the phone whenever we need advice and we can’t ask for more.”
Here are Drive’s top tips for anyone else looking to start or grow their own business:
- surround yourself with like-minded people
- always see the bigger picture
- don’t be afraid to ask for help
- always put the company first
- be honest with each other and with customers, and never give up!