Pinpoint Pickup, the Car-Booking Startup Facing off Against Uber, has Seven Cities Under its Belt—and Wants More

5/4/11Follow @curtwoodward

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footprint for the network of operators in each area, connecting to nearby cities and suburbs. In Seattle, for instance, it’s possible to get cars all the way out to Snohomish or Pierce counties.

I didn’t use the service, but a test of the booking system quoted me a rate of about $90 from Sea-Tac Airport to the Tacoma suburbs—cheaper than I’ve paid on some cab rides for the same trip. Pinpoint Pickup makes its money through fees on successful bookings, not charging a monthly software-as-a-service or lead-generation fee to the businesses.

Right now, payments are made to the driver, but Pinpoint Pickup is integrating a credit card option into its app for future releases. One key point, Phair says, is that Pinpoint pickup won’t compel customers to enter a credit card number to set up an account, like some of its competitors.

Pickup reservations need an hour lead time, which Phair says is a legal requirement in some markets to distinguish town cars from taxis. But Pinpoint Pickup is working on a “the sooner the better” type of feature for locations where that option wouldn’t run afoul of regulators.

The market for high-tech driver booking does already have a few players. Along with the aforementioned Uber, there are more established companies like LimoRes.com and Limos.com, which run the gamut of nicer-than-a-cab autos. Other companies, like Taxi Magic, use the power of smartphones to help users hail cabs, without having to look up the dispatch phone numbers.

The distinction between cabs and town cars is a key one in this business. Taxis in many cities are very heavily regulated, to the point where government has a strict limit on the number of cabs allowed on the streets. That can make for conflict with town car services, and so state or local officials have different rules attempting to keep the markets separate.

San Francisco’s Uber has already felt the sting of this regulatory environment—it was hit with cease-and-desist letters by city and state regulators last year, when it was still known as UberCab, for operating an unlicensed taxi agency. That dispute apparently is still being worked out, although Uber does charge taxi-like fares based on an initial fee and distance- or time-metered additional charges.

Against more established competitors, Phair says Pinpoint Pickup seeks to distinguish itself by being more technologically savvy. Her co-founders, Dirk Groeneveld and Jonathan Tai, are software pros … Next Page »

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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  • Town Car Chris

    I have tried both Uber and Pinpoint Pickup as a driver. Uber is sleek in many ways, but Pinpoint Pickup has a more complete system. They understand and empower drivers. Pinpoint also offers choices for customers that Uber doesn’t: cash payments, advance reservations, web based booking, and a blackberry app.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.radkowski Christopher Radkowski

    Uber is a great service but during extreme traffic in Chicago on Friday evenings for a example, sometimes it makes sense to hire a traditional limo company such as http://stretchlimochicago.com with flat rates rather then being surcharged for time and traffic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.radkowski Christopher Radkowski

    Uber is a great service but during extreme traffic in Chicago on Friday evenings for a example, sometimes it makes sense to hire a traditional limo company such as http://stretchlimochicago.com with flat rates rather then being surcharged for time and traffic.