A Toronto-based startup is aiming to create the anti-Uber app for taxi fleets across Canada – and it’s looking to topple other big names on behalf of local businesses in other industries, too.

First launched in 2013, Gata Labs Inc. has been building Gata Hub, a platform that will serve small, local businesses by creating high-quality mobile apps for them. While the 12-person company wants to eventually expand to businesses like coffee shops and pizza joints, right now its chief customers are within the taxi industry, working with about 25 taxi fleets across the country.

For these taxi fleets, Gata Hub provides a mobile dispatching system on the backend, helping drivers get matched with rides. The system also shares information like GPS tracking, ride updates, ride failure rates, and a breakdown of the revenue that drivers bring in.

(Image: Gata Labs).
(Image: Gata Labs).

Gata Labs has also built an iOS app for consumers, helping them hail a taxi based on their location. Currently in beta, the app also works across all of the fleets that have partnered with Gata Labs, so when consumers travel to other cities, they don’t have to download other apps besides Gata Hub to hail a taxi.

Does this sound familiar? It should. The overall experience is basically what Uber is offering – but this is for taxi fleets who want to stave off the onslaught of Uber and protect their market share. So for Gata Labs, deciding to start with the taxi industry was a calculated move, as taxi service providers are now more open to embracing new technology, says Edward Yao, Gata Labs’ co-founder and CEO.

“Uber is going city to city, and essentially trying to create its own taxi fleet and unseat the local incumbent fleets … Essentially, Gata is ammunition. We’re an arms dealer, and we’re helping the local incumbent fleets fight back,” says Yao, who was also former president of groupbuying site TeamBuy.ca.

“We’re not directly competing with Uber. We’re simply providing a technology to the fleets who are directly competing with Uber.”

While Gata Labs doesn’t yet have a partnership with a taxi fleet in Toronto, Yao says his company will be able to announce one soon. It’s also set to double the number of fleets it’s working with, from 25 to 50, he adds.

However, the startup is turning its gaze towards other small businesses that want to break the hegemony of the Starbucks and the Domino’s Pizzas of the world. For example, it’s eyeing coffee shops that want an app similar to what Starbucks offers, or pizzerias that want to match Domino’s Pizza’s mobile experience. And in mid-October, Gata Labs will be launching a mobile solution for a local dry cleaner, its first customer outside the taxi industry.

“From a user experience, or a UX standpoint, [our apps will] be fully branded and customized to the business that you’re interacting with,” Yao says. “When it comes to speed, how it executes, you won’t be sacrificing anything as a merchant or as a consumer by using our app versus any of the enterprise-level solutions that are available from Starbucks or Uber.”

Pricing for GataHub is on a monthly subscription basis. The actual figure depends on a business’ industry, the number of customers it expects to serve with its mobile app, and what it charges per transaction, Yao says. However, a good benchmark might be with a quick service restaurant, which typically gets charged about $75 a month.

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