Tinker is a Dutch startup that aims to solve the "last mile" problem for booking ground transportation between between an airport and a destination.
In a unique touch, when a customer is arriving at Amsterdam's Schiphol, a Tinker representative (called a Tinker Bell) greets passengers at the airport's main hall and guides him or her to the booked car and driver.
Tinker also serves -- but doesn't have hostesses -- at Eindhoven, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands; the German airports Dusseldorf and Weeze Niederrhein; and Belgium's airports in Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges.
Founded in 2012, the startup says it has already served 45,000 passengers in the Netherlands. It points to hundreds of positive reviews online.
The startup is luring travelers with early booking discounts, where a return, or round-trip, journey will usually be cheaper than a single trip. Currently many old-school travelers booking spontaneously make each booking as separate one-ways.
Funding comes from founders' private capital. It wants to become a global company.
Tinker created this Vine to illustrate their company's mission:
Q&A with Cees de Wildt, marketing director.
Tell us how you founded the company, why and what made you decide to jump in and create the business.
There are great efficiency gains possible in transportation. Efficiencies that are already common practice in for example the telco industry. (Ever had AT&T tell you it wouldn’t connect you to Vodafone while traveling in Europe? No. But in travel, this disjunction often happens.)
How does the pricing work for customers?
By using revenue management to stretch price range, Tinker addresses more potential customers than any existing taxi business. Because Tinker knows upfront what trips have been sold, Tinker is able to plan operations more efficiently, while improving customer experience at the same time.
Due to the higher utilization of taxis, Tinker is able to buy transport for much lower prices. The Tinker yield- and revenue-management algorithms are currently set for growth over margin. Sales price is based on various principles, such as:
1. Time the trip is booked in advance
2. Number of passengers in the booking, what kind of luggage do they carry
3. What is the chance Tinker can add an additional passenger to the trip (the more seats a passenger books, the less chance seats are combined for ridesharing). It's possible for customers to book private trips, at a higher price.
Size of the team, names of founders, management roles and key personnel?
The founding team consists of four people: Rob van Strien (gen. mgmnt IT dev.), Gerben Abbink (comm. dir.), Cees de Wildt (marketing), Frank Keijzers (front end development), Jasper Spoel (back end development)
Public transport, local airport arrangements, long term parking arrangements on airports, airport hotel arrangements.
Revenue model and strategy for profitability?
Inventory Free Revenue management which is being applied to a decentralized (transportation) network.
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
IT-wise we partly moved out of the cloud because the cloud was too expensive, we found that big data is useless if you do not know what to do with it.
It’s about the right algorithms. People will pay more for service, so we have hostesses (TinkerBelles) at the airport helping our customers and improving overall process efficiency.
Why should people or companies use the business?
It provides high quality customer experience of door to door transportation against rates that approach public transport or lower.
What's the definition of "taxi" or "transportation"?
Tinker certified taxis mean we cooperate with taxi companies who suit the Tinker certificate (Mercedes class E, not older then 5 years, driver speaks at least 2 languages, etc.)
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition?
The Go-To-Market strategy is based on multi channel selling. B2C business is adressed via two routes; Direct via Tinkers own portal, Indirect via resellers. B2B is adressed directly through direct engagements enabling business customers to close tailor made arrangements.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
In three years Tinker will be the leading European provider of pre-booked airport transportation.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
Travellers still travel through 20th century ‘hub and spoke’ networks. These dinosaur routes transport people from places where they don’t want to be, to places where they don’t want to go. This is tedious and inefficient and will disappear.
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
None, Tinker is an applied technology company looking for its identity in this new world. We exist just 12 months.
It's only at Schiphol, but Tinker's offer of a hostesses greeting customers gives it a signature touch and helps with word-of-mouth marketing.
But the key to success won't be how well those customers smile. It will be the more boring, behind-the-scenes effort to price the product correctly. Can Tinker identify its 20% or so most profitable customers and find a way to learn how to extract additional value from them?
It will also be about finding the 20% of its routes, or service, that produces most of its revenue or positive customer response.
In short, it'll be about thinking inside the box.
But the management team appears to handle problems well. The company also has a passion -- it sees making taxi service more efficient as being good for the environment, too -- that could help it power through the inevitable rough periods to come, because it sees a higher purpose.
Tnooz will be eager to see how if this company picks up well.