Winston Transitions into App Platform for Existing Taxi Companies, Launches Fleetbit

Today Fleetbit, a division of Canadian startup Winston, launched a taxi booking smartphone app for Diamond Taxicab. Fleetbit says it’s the first of 12 apps being built for taxi companies across North America.

According to Fleetbit, the free app lets passengers book, track in realtime, and rate rides from Diamond Taxicab’s fleet of over 650 drivers. This may not sound like the HireWinston service you’ve heard of. That part of the startup, which launched in October 2011, was more of a Canadian Uber.

Now HireWinston has retired and Fleetbit is an app platform for existing taxi companies. Why? The Toronto-based company says it transitioned for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which is that corporate adoption was not growing at a sustainable rate. The way Fleetbit sees it, growth will come more quickly if it works with current taxi fleets than against them.

“The pivot allows us to focus on our core competency—selling and building travel software—rather than on everything else around it—logistics, driver training, regulation compliance,” the company explained to Techvibes (which even Uber has had no shortage of difficulty with). Unlike many startup pivots, this one was a long time coming, slowly bubbling up from an idea last spring to a soft launch this winter.

“It didn’t take us long to realize we could deliver much better service by partnering with established taxi companies,” says CEO Aidan Nulman. “The Diamond app has hundreds more cars and is supplemented with the quality control, training, 24/7 support, and dispatch infrastructure that customers and corporate accounts need.”

Now Fleetbit targets taxi companies instead of consumers, offering fleets “the fastest, simplest, and most affordable way to launch great mobile booking and payment apps.”