A conversation with Jing Herman, VP Growth at Gett
Today, having diverse skills and career interests is survival-smart. But what happens when your career as an investment banker and your passion for the taxi business converge in an opportunity to redefine corporate car and limousine service for the business community?
Jing Herman has successfully leveraged both interests. Having launched the business in NYC as the first CEO in August 2013, she is a licensed NYC taxi driver and currently VP, Growth for Gett – a service that enables users to request rides via black cars on demand using the Gett mobile app. Gett now serves more than 30,000 orders per day in 50 cities on three continents and over 2,500 corporate clients globally.
What drove your interest in becoming a taxi driver?
I’ve wanted to be a taxi driver since I arrived in the city to attend New York University. One of my first encounters was with a young 19-year old taxi driver from Africa. His enthusiasm for his job, and how he showed me around the city, was fantastic. I was hooked!
After finishing school, I began my career in banking with Bear Stearns, then transitioned to JP Morgan, where I was part of the company’s strategic investment team focusing on tech companies.
Through my investment career, I retained an interest in being a taxi driver and after the iPhone was created, I had a random idea of creating an app-based on-demand transportation service in early 2009. Working until 2 a.m. every day and going home in a black car on the company account gave me plenty time to think about it in my head. I always thought redefining “service” in car service for the B2B segment was the key to success. To do this, I knew that I needed to become the most knowledgeable person in the industry. So I set about going through the process of becoming a licensed driver.
How did Gett come into the picture?
Large financial companies such as Goldman Sachs are spending $20 to $30 million per year globally in ground transportation alone. While at JP Morgan, I was closely following the growth of Uber and Gett. I saw that Gett offered the advantage of having a strong corporate solution and an end-to-end technology platform that would meet the needs of businesses.
I decided that Gett was where I wanted to be, and reached out to CEO Shahar Waiser via a cold email on LinkedIn. Today, Shahar loves to tell the story of how he received an email with the subject line “I’m your girl for NYC.” How he opened it and read about my vision for approaching the corporate/enterprise segment of the market. I joined Gett in 2012 as CEO for NYC and a year later, Gett debuted its service in New York City.
Why should businesses in NYC outsource their ground transportation to Gett instead of contracting with corporate car or livery services…or using Uber?
Corporate car companies offer service without technology.
Uber offers technology without service.
Gett offers service and technology.
What Gett has developed is not easy to deliver. If you look at how traditional corporate car and limousine services operate, they also have 24-7 customer support and a reservation service. But while car services have people answering the phone, they don’t have world-class app-driven technology in drivers’ and passengers’ hands. This limits the speed in which their cars can arrive.
Uber is all about technology and speed but nothing about customer service. One bank allowed its employees to use Uber. Then the bank’s head of procurement realized that their employees were not using Uber much because it did not allow advance reservations or multiple-car orders or enable an assistant to book a car on behalf of a director.
Gett built its entire business around companies’ ground transportation needs.
1. We offer companies a web portal to book and track rides, and to manage expenses through a centralized monthly invoice with terms.
2. We offer future bookings.
3. We allow booking of multiple cars at once. We allow someone in the company to book a ride on behalf of someone else.
4. We offer 24/7 customer service.
5. Last but not least, our prices are unbeatable.
How do the black car fleets and drivers you work with feel about using new technology?
There’s a saying at Gett: “We have two customers: one in the driver’s seat, and one in the passenger’s seat.” We have a great relationship with the black car fleets that have been with us from the very beginning. Because business accounts typically mean longer rides and lower cancellation rates, black car drivers are very happy about our B2B focus. They know that the future of ground transportation is in apps, and they really like ours. Our drivers also appreciate that we give them 100 percent of the tips they receive from passengers who pay on their credit card or the company’s account, and that we pay them up to three times Uber’s per minute rate. Uber doesn’t give drivers any tips.
What does a company need to do to get started with Gett?
It’s super easy for any company, large or small, to begin with Gett. There’s zero commitment and no costs to start an account. Once the company fills out a one-page application, we set them up on their own Gett web portal. The company and its employees can order rides from either the web portal or the Gett app. Anyone interested can contact email@example.com and gett started right away.
How have NYC companies been reacting to your launch here?
We’re getting tons of new business inquiries to open up accounts. The businesses we’re meeting with appreciate that we work only with properly licensed and insured drivers and that we offer a fixed pricing structure with no surge rates. They also know they’re going to get a live person on the phone, 24-7, who will answer their questions and resolve any issues.
What’s next for Gett in NYC?
While I can’t share details yet, in August Gett NYC will expand beyond rides and begin to offer delivery of other goods and services. Stay tuned!