Is Split the New Uber City in Croatia? Interview with Uber Croatia Chief

Total Croatia News

TCN caught up with Uber Croatia General Manager Davor Tremac on April 27, 2016, to find out how their entrance to the Croatian market was going, and where they are headed next.

After last year’s October launch in Zagreb, recent releases from Uber Croatia showed there is a possibility of launching Uber in coastal cities too. Split is said to be one of the first choices for a new Uber city in Croatia. Uber is one of the most successful transportation apps which started off as a simple idea of fast and affordable transport. In 2008, co-founders, Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp had trouble finding a taxi in Paris and a handy app seemed like good solution. From its start as an app to request a car in few cities, it now presents a whole logistical platform around the world.

Uber is not just a car ride but provides a whole range of different services such as delivery of goods, and it has expanded to different means of transport and offers its services to businesses too. With a presence in more than 65 countries and 400 cities worldwide, it is great for Croatia to be on the Uber map too. The Zagreb launch was followed by protests from local taxi drivers who saw Uber as a threat. After 6 months, Uber in Croatia has been an extremely positive experience and a few days ago it introduced price cut by 25% to make the service even more affordable.

Based on Uber company policy, Uber Croatia tries to make the life of its users easier and attracts them with various special deals such as the recent lamb on spit delivery (a Croatian classic when it comes to food). To get the most accurate information about Uber and insight in future plans, we asked Uber Croatia General Manager, Davor Tremac, a few questions about the app itself, the current business model and experiences in Croatia. We also discussed potential introduction of Uber to tourist towns and future plans for Split as a new Uber city.

Firstly, can you briefly describe the main attributes of the Uber app and the idea behind it?
Uber is one of the most forward thinking companies in the world, changing the way we move around the cities.   We are a technology company that enables riders – users of the app – to use technology to efficiently find and locate the nearest partner driver.

Uber brings innovation to the transportation sector in Croatia – as we are a completely cashless service, we help to bring transparency and accountability to a sector that has been mostly cash-based for decades.

What does Uber bring to the market where it operates – what are customer experiences like and what are partner experiences like?
The response to Uber in Croatia has been fantastic. Zagreb embraced Uber as a safe, transparent and technology driven way to move around the city:
⦁ after first 6 months we have almost 50.000 users of the app in Zagreb
⦁ The app has been opened by more than 200.000 times in last 10 months only in Zagreb
⦁ The average waiting time for a car is 4 minutes – one of the fastest in the region
⦁ Also, tourists trust Uber – so far, visitors from 62 countries have used Uber in Zagreb

Zagreb is the first city in Croatia where Uber has been used, what can you tell us about your experience in Croatia thus far, the number of users and partners along with the general acceptance of the application as a new form of transport in the city? Also, please present the Uber team in Croatia in a few words?
We have been incredibly overwhelmed by the positive response we received from both riders and partner-drivers over the first few months, efficiency is so a lot better than we expected and we’re excited to see what the future hold for Zagreb.

We do not discuss driver numbers, because drivers on the platform utilise the platform around their schedules as they wish, the number of drivers on the platform is always changing. Riders tell us they appreciate Uber technology and the safety that comes from using our platform. Partner-drivers are telling us they love the flexibility that comes from driving with Uber.

What is important to us is that we are making our service available to as many users as possible. The operations in Zagreb are led for the moment by a small team of only three but we will expand as our operations continue to grow.

Is there a possibility for the arrival of UberPop into Croatia or is that impossible due to set legal parameters?
Our uberX service currently allows professional licensed drivers to gain access to the platform. This means that our partner drivers that have passed all the necessary exams and have commercial licences for transport of passengers, and the vast majority of them also work as taxi drivers and use Uber to supplement their income. uberPOP is Uber’s innovative ridesharing platform that connects riders to drivers in your area and allows drivers to recoup the cost of owning a car.

Our decision to launch uberX in Zagreb is reflective of the constructive and positive discussions we have had with local authorities to ensure that our service is the right fit for the city of Zagreb. Uber is pro-regulation and look forward to further dialogue with policymakers as we update them on how our service is being welcomed by the local communities.

In light of the announcement that Split could be a new Uber city, can you tell us what are Your expectations in that market?
Uber is looking to be present wherever there is a need for a reliable and safe transportation alternative, including the   Croatian coast, one of the world’s tourist hotspots, but there is nothing we can confirm today.

Croatia is a very interesting market – we have a beautiful coastline with a lot of features so Uber wants to introduce also some other services. We are also thinking about UberBOAT or UberCHOPPER and we could also introduce a transport with ships to the islands but firstly we will evaluate demand for such services.

Have you gathered information from current and potential users regarding the interest for Uber in Split and its surroundings?
If we look at the taxi licenses in Zagreb for example – where there is a true need for multiples transportation options – we have 1.200 taxi drivers, or 1,7 taxi drivers per a thousand citizens. This number puts us behind the rest of the cities in Central Europe.   In Bratislava, for example, there are around 3.000 taxi drivers or 6 taxis per 1.000 residents, in Warsaw there are 13.000 taxi drivers or 7.7 taxis per 1.000.

On the other hand, in Split, known as an extremely popular tourist city, there is an even smaller number of taxies per 1.000 citizens, it is 0.8. If we add tourists who usually come to Split to the local population, we can see that there is a significant need for alternative transportation options for the citizens of Split and its guests.

When we’re talking about Uber as a tech platform, which allows the local companies to find passengers, the potential is even greater since that form of transport attracts people who don’t usually use taxi services.

Do you plan on being primarily oriented on the local population or the incoming tourists in Split?
Uber does not discriminate are our mission is to provide safe and reliable rides to anyone.

What are your assumptions on the structure of an average Uber user?
We are oriented towards everyone who wants safe and reliable transport through the city.

It’s known that companies or businesses specializing in customer transportation are often reluctant in accepting new competition – does Uber present them with a threat or an opportunity?
Uber is a technology platform which allows Croatian entrepreneurs, businesses and companies to have an additional source of income by acting as a vehicle with a driver for hire. Uber doesn’t have its own drivers but it allows the locals to start companies and begin earning money from the very first day through the Uber platform. We call it instant entrepreneurship. Uber allows the local companies to grow, develop and pay taxes and all necessary duties, while having a positive effect on the local community.

Therefore, Uber driver partners choose their own work time according to their lifestyle or other business or private obligations. Customer demand is taken into the equation when deciding the time they are willing to spend working on the Uber platform.

What is the situation like with the local taxi services, Split is known as a temperamental city, do you forsee that Uber will encounter problems such as a protest of taxi drivers and other transport service providers?
We have many challenges because we are dealing with an industry that didn’t change for decades. You are changing something that was created before smartphones.

On the other hand we see that the Baltic countries are very well accepted by Uber. They are ready to talk about a number of new opportunities and we believe that Split is equally ready to accept Uber.

I believe technology it is here to stay and these are short term problems. At Uber, we like to focus on long term solutions and that is why we prefer to work with politicians to introduce new legislation which is fit for the 21st century and brings clarity around how technology can be used to improve people’s mobility and welfare.

What is Uber’s price model like – do you have any information about the prices that can be expected in Split?
Uber’s prices are very transparent – in Zagreb, the base fare is 6 kunas, each kilometer is 3 kunas, and 0.4 kuna per minute. At the end of the ride you get a certificate where you can simply view the details of your ride. You can also download the receipt for every ride via the application.

Do you have a specific arrival date for the Split market and what does it depend on?
We had good preliminary discussions in Split, but there is nothing we can confirm at this point in time.


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