The head of Bolt in Poland declares: in a moment we will overtake Uber. And he tells you how he wants to do it

Bolt, or former Taxify, is a relatively recent participant in the battle for Polish roads. On the Vistula River, an Estonian startup appeared 2.5 years ago, but it started to take a serious start in the last 12 months, starting with a 50-percent series. promotion for journeys. In spite of this, country manager Bolta in Poland Alex Kartsel in an interview with Spider's Web announces that his company is already dividing only months from the dethronement of Uber.

Adam Sieńko, Spider's Web: Szczecin, Torun, Rzeszów, Bialystok - I only mention cities in which Bolt has recently appeared or will appear. Nice offensive. Is it a jump on the leader position occupied by Uber?

Alex Kartsel, Country Manager Bolt on Poland: We are going step by step. It is difficult to judge whether we are already in front of Uber , but even if not, we will become the number 1 application in Poland in the first half of this year.

Do you really believe it?

Of course. When I appeared in the company in 2017, we had several hundred courses a day. It has not been two years, and Bolt serves over 1 million passengers in Poland. And around 25 million people around the world.

In this plan, Warsaw is key for Bolt?

Definitely, it's the largest city in Poland. The demand here is additionally compounded by traffic jams and the lack of parking spaces, which prompts people to order our services.

I ask, because the last data shows that in the capital you stand out from Uber. Is the idea to offset this difference?

We are already stomping on his heels. We develop our service, we introduce new categories. As the only one in Poland, and perhaps in whole Europe, we have introduced the category "without barriers". We trained the drivers so that they could fold the wheelchairs to the trunk. Time, which the driver sacrifices to help a disabled person, of course we reward him later.

Before entering Bolta in one of the new cities "Gazeta Wyborcza" asked taxi corporations, or are afraid that this will change the market conditions. Some of them replied that they had never heard of Taxify or Bolt.

It's possible, but it's related to our policy. We already serve 13 cities in Poland, Uber - 7. No other application in our country operates on such a scale. We believe that cheap and convenient journeys should be available in every city over 100,000. people.

This, however, is connected with the fact that when we enter new cities, we are often the first application to order journeys. In some places, the only way to order a taxi is to make a phone call to a corporation. Hence, I am not surprised that some people may not associate us.

All these investments, however, coincided with the law, which could have been a lethal blow to applications that employ unlicensed drivers.

I would not attach so much to its shape. This is the only act that changes every two weeks. The last version is positive for us. It assumes that transport licenses will be easy for drivers to get. It suits us, because we do not oppose this obligation. In all new cities, we allow only partners with a license.

Okay, but you're still in a state of high uncertainty.

It's hard to hide that this situation has a big impact on our investments, because indeed - we would like to invest more. But the fact that there is a conversation about the shape of the law means a lot to us. We've been through this process in many countries. Recently in Slovakia, where easily accessible drivers' licenses have been introduced. Most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe she has already decided on specific regulations. Applicable in the Baltic countries, the Czechs are already at the finish.

And in what direction do we go?

The boundary between the carriage and a regular taxi will be blurred. The law contains many archaic rules, such as a compulsory topography exam or the requirement to have a taximeter to charge for the course. The Polish employers have recently commissioned research, which showed that 80 percent passengers would like to know the price of the course before it starts. Some changes are inevitable, the market forces them.

We're getting a big protest from taxi drivers. The question is, how much he can put any pressure on the legislative process. MyTaxi and iTaxi have already cut themselves off from him. It seems that the streets will be blocked only by a group of radicals.

That is because their postulates are difficult to justify logically. The pressure boils down to the desire to limit the number of drivers on the market. We think that we should all act on the same principles. But they can not block access to the market.

Recently, customers have surprised you by a sudden change of name. What was wrong with Taxify?

We have already grown out of this name. Bolt is in English "thunderbolt". It is a reference to electromobility, which we deeply believe in. In Tallinn, we even have a special category, under which you can order Tesla transport. In Paris, we serve electric scooters, which will soon also appear in Madrid. In Africa, rides on mopeds are carried out through us.

But it's not just about switching to electrics. Later this year, we will launch food delivery in South Africa, Estonia and Finland. In Romania, we operate by providing courier services. Taxify simply ceased to correspond to our product portfolio at some point.

Will Polish customers feel this?

For now, we are launching a branding campaign. Besides, everything stays the same.

You mentioned Africa. Probably not many people know about it, but it's the biggest market for you right now.

It is true. Looking at Europe itself, Poland is the largest market for us, but South Africa and Nigeria are ahead of us in the context of the whole world.

An interesting direction when it comes to business expansion.

Africa is a continent where infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped in many places. There are also problems with the availability of public transport. In my opinion, this determines the popularity of Bolt in this corner of the world. Bolt is often the only option for residents to move from point A to point B.

Where do you get drivers from?

It is not uncommon for them to make a high unemployment job. In some countries, we also recently announced cooperation with car dealers, thanks to which drivers get preferential leasing terms. By supporting our brand, they also have greater creditworthiness.

Returning, however, to expanding the portfolio - an arms race is under way in Europe. myTaxi ( soon Free Now ) and Uber want to comprehensively organize us moving around the city. Carsharing, taxis, scooters, bus schedule - everything should fit in one application.

This is a global trend in which our activities are also part of. The trip should be unnoticeable for the passenger.

How can it look like in a few years?

Imagine that you use a bus or minibus to travel from city to city. After reaching the destination, you decide to take the car and defeat the last piece of the scooter with a scooter. In the meantime, you order food that comes to your apartment at the same time as you. All this is supported using the same application. But we do not have to wait a few years for it, it begins to happen before our eyes. In Asia, Didi (the Chinese equivalent of Uber - editorial note) already has many offers available through one application.

But in this way, everyone copies the same model of action. Who will win at the end?

Most often there is no winner. There is consolidation and there are two leading brands on the battlefield that compete with each other. In Spain there are Uber and Cabify, in the United States and Canada Uber and Lyft . In Poland, I assume that it will be Bolt and Uber.

What is to decide about this?

The customer is worried about 3 things - the price, expected time of arrival and quality. The one who will be able to best balance these three factors will win.

A recent protest by Uber and Lyft drivers in the United States. The assembly wanted regulation and more money. I have the impression that this hits a rather sensitive point - you are not afraid that drivers in Poland will also decide to demand better wages?

This thread rarely moves. I will answer yes - I do not think that this will become a problem in Poland. Everything is about the scale of action. The price for one trip can be low, but our drivers in Warsaw do on average 2 courses per hour. The taxi driver does one course, but for two hours. The latter will earn better in one course, but the hourly rate will be the same. By controlling demand, for example by means of promotion, we are able to provide drivers with a sufficiently large number of courses and earnings at a fairly constant level.

We make the service cheaper, but we sell more. Exactly the same as some popular discount stores in Poland, which show excellent financial results. And their theoretically more exclusive competition, which was to sell less, but with a higher margin, recently began to go bankrupt.

The head of Bolt in Poland declares: in a moment we will overtake Uber. And he tells you how he wants to do it


  1. hope they don't!!! Their staff are ignorantly rude and assume they know better than you where the meeting point is!!! They can't even speak the language politely. Don't use them, they are seriously bad. Other people on forums say they are also thieves.We can assume the interviewed here is a liar, paid or otherwise


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