The Uber Experience in Taiwan: Marketing the New Form of Transportation Service
Published At:2015-04-07 
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 2022-12-01 updated

“We’re really changing lives both on the rider side and driver side, and probably more so on the driver side.” - Likai Gu, General Manager of Uber Taipei.

 

On April 9, 2015, the GMBA Student Council held its first L.I.V.E. Speaker event at the NTU College of Management featuring, Mr. Likai Gu, General Manager of Uber Taipei to speak to students about the challenges of operating an innovative and global company, and the opportunities it brings to the communities it serves.  Also attending the event as VIP guests were Chairperson Chunyao Huang, Professor Shu Cheng Chi, Assistant Professor Miriam Garvi, Associate Director, Steven Hsu, and GMBA Student Affairs Officer, Yeh Hsin.

 

Prior to Uber, Likai co-founded an online startup called Bid & Buy, which grew to the largest pay-to-bid auction site in Taiwan. Before that, he spent a few years as a strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company's Greater China office. Likai holds a BA in Economics from the University of California, Irvine.

 

Uber, whose simple mission is, “Transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone,” offers a mobile app that allows consumers to get a ride in minutes in more than 292 cities and 55 countries around the world.  But how do you integrate a company like Uber into Taiwan where you can get a taxi almost the moment you put your hand in the air?

 

In Los Angeles it takes an average of 10 minutes for an Uber car to arrive at your door and 30 minutes for a taxi to arrive at your door.  After a month or two of operating in Taipei, Uber’s arrival time reached 10-minutes and Likai thought, “Great! Taipei’s at 10-minutes, we’re as good as Los Angeles. We’re a success.”  But comments and suggestions from customers complaining about Uber’s long wait time helped Mr. Gu realize that expectations vary in different cities around the world.  Through analysis of reservation and destination trends, Uber’s software directs drivers to strategic locations to maximize efficiency, and has reduced the wait time down to an average of 5-minutes.

 

Likai explained to the students that developing a good product in Taiwan relied on focusing on three key customer values:  Quality, Ease, and Value. “Value”, a combination of the quality, price, and convenience of the product, was one of the most important messages Uber Taipei needed to deliver.  According to Likai, “You actually need to deliver mind-blowing value in Taipei to catch their attention.  We started off in Taipei with a higher end service, Uber Black, and in Mid-May of 2014 we launched UberX, our low cost option…which is about 10-15% cheaper than a regular taxi.” 

 

Despite the challenging and unique environment of Taipei, in its first year of operation Uber Taipei outperformed San Francisco’s first year in terms of completed trips.  Likai attributes Uber’s success, both globally and locally, to the entrepreneurial spirit of the company combined with its lean operations, strong global branding and network, and the drivers who Likai describes as the “face” of Uber.

 

The L.I.V.E. Speaker event is a new program instituted by the Student Council and stands for “Leadership, Innovation, Vision, and Entrepreneur”.   In his opening speech, GMBA Student Council Corporate & Community Vice President, Christopher Loo explained, “The purpose and vision of the GMBA Student Council is to provide opportunities outside of classes to Learn new skills, Engage each other and the community, and Practice the knowledge we’ve learned.” The event, attended by students throughout NTU College of management, included questions submitted prior to the event, an open Q&A session, and refreshments and prizes sponsored by Piglet Café (http://www.facebook.com/pigletcafe88)

 

To conclude the event, the GMBA Student Council asked Likai and the VIP guests to sign an English story book on behalf of Uber and GMBA, which was donated to a local elementary school.  GMBA Vice President, Christopher Loo explained that the book donation is a new “tradition of sharing knowledge as a thank you to those who come to share their knowledge with us.” 

 

To learn about future events and to contact the GMBA Student Council, please follow the GMBA Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GMBANTU.

 

Written By:  Christopher Loo