Mark Lim, 34, and Timothy Khor, 28, noticed that railing-hailing prices tend to fluctuate erratically. Rates were also different across multiple apps ranging from private-hire app Grab to taxi operator ComfortDelGro. For example, the quoted rate on one app could be 2–3 dollar lower on another app for the same destination.
“That couple of dollars per trip can add up to a lot, and that is the power of accumulation,” said Lim, co-founder and CEO of ride-hailing price comparison app Spur.
Both of them have always been fascinated by data, and how it can be used to empower consumers. They decided to look at building an aggregator business model around the ride-hailing industry. In April this year, they launched Spur, an app which aggregates and lists fare ranges from three main ride-hailing providers in Singapore: ComfortDelGro, Grab, and Gojek.
“Spur was born out of COVID-19, a time where we thought to ourselves how we can help commuters save money,” said Lim. The name means “to move forward, to encourage and to provide incentive.” Spur uses the Land Transport Authority’s open APIs, which allows applications to talk to each other.
Both co-founders have had experience building startups and software. Mark, an aerospace engineer by trade, had spent eight years building Singapore’s first 3D printing business called 3D Matters. It has since been sold, and is currently valued at a seven-figure sum. Prior to starting Spur, he served as a co-founder and COO in an automotive tech startup from 2019.
Timothy is an accountant. He had spent two years building an aggregated all-in-one tourism app that was incubated and accelerated by both Spring SG and NTUitive. He also has four years of experience in building big data analytics for OCBC Bank and ThermoFisher Scientific.
The Spur app showed that a ride from Orchard MRT Station to Northpoint City costs SGD 16.18 to SGD 18.18 on ComfortDelGro and Gojek, and SGD 18 to SGD 20 on Grab. A quick check on the respective apps showed SGD 16.20 for Gojek and SGD 19 for Grab, which was fairly accurate. However, it showed SGD 18.30 (excluding ERP charges) on ComfortDelGro, which is slightly off. With ERP charges included, it is more than SGD 20 on the ComfortDelGro app.
“Currently we have no contact with Grab and Gojek as our algorithms are independent of them and we make use of data that is available publicly,” said Lim. This is why they use the transactions of around 600 end-users to come up with its fare ranges.
Some of the app reviews mentioned that Spur does not take into account peak surcharges for Grab and Gojek, and seems to show the default range pricing at any time. It does not consider ERP charges for taxis either. Lim said that he is heartened by comments and reviews he has received so far, and will “continue to improve the application to serve them better.”
Spur currently has more than 4,000 app downloads and sees close to five users every minute on a daily average. This translates to about 4,300 events taking place a day on the app. It is currently approaching other ride-hailing firms, such as SMRT and Tada, to be included.
In terms of other future plans, Lim shared that they are planning to enter the logistical last mile delivery space, and venture into fleet optimization for B2B transport companies. “We also intend to connect with SMEs who run rental fleets, smaller taxi, and limo firms, and have them as options that are available on our app interface,” he said. “We hope to be able to give our users as many options as possible, while remaining agnostic to the larger platforms.”
Lim also did not rule out overseas expansion. Countries like Indonesia, Thailand or Myanmar—some of the top ride-hailing markets in Southeast Asia—could soon be on the map.
This article was originally published by Vulcan Post.