eCabs, Malta’s very own and only flag bearing ride-hailing platform powered by its proprietary technology and innovation powerhouse Cuorium Technologies, expects to reach its first landmark milestone in its internationalisation efforts by June 2023.
With consistent investment in technology talent and an unwavering resolve to expand in major EU cities, eCabs is now yielding the goals that could elevate Malta’s corporate and technology credentials on an international scale.
Business Today sat down with Matthew Bezzina, Chief Executive Officer at Cuorium Technologies and Luca Di Michele, Chief Technology Officer to grasp an insight into one of the most exciting commercial ventures growing in Malta, charting the path for the eCabs flag to be sported in European cities.
Recently, eCabs has undergone a significant restructuring of its operations. Luca was promoted to Chief Technology Officer at eCabs. Matthew moved on to become the CEO of Cuorium Technologies while Andrew Bezzina was named the CEO of eCabs.
How did this major transformation come about?
Luca Di Michele: In 2019 I spearheaded the establishment of our proprietary ride hailing technology. Three years have flown by like a flash. It is extremely satisfying to look back and see how much ground we have covered and the growth we have achieved, moving us far ahead enough to make this quantum leap into the international market. During this period, we have gone through exciting phases of renewal and transformation, building a highly competent, enthusiastic team of dedicated professionals who are driven by an incredible passion and the ambition for creating ahead-of-the-curve mobility technologies and solutions.
Matthew Bezzina: Our joint efforts have resulted into impressive growth, despite the international economic climate and the upheaval caused by the pandemic. Faced with these challenges we had some fundamental choices to make. We could have either retrenched and focused on keeping on winning the local market battles or aspire to become an international brand in mobility technology and provision of ride-hailing services. We could have decided to do like many others and just invest in property or take the plunge and the risk that comes with a significant shareholder investment of €7 million. Today, we are reaping the first dividends of these decisions, wherein despite all the headwind we faced we now have a platform created in Malta that is ready to go beyond our borders and proudly fly our national flag in this growing tech driven industry.
How does this restructuring effort feature in the growth path of the Company and its platform?
MB: Our organisation’s transformation journey started kicked off in 2017 and has been through multiple iterations. However it was towards the end of 2019 that we really changed gears and growth accelerated in a flywheel effect as soon as the pandemic hit the globe. The pandemic had the effect of a giant pause button on the industry which gave us the space to shape our platform, build a multicultural team, spin-off a technology company with one of the largest cadre of developers on the island and start charting the path towards our international aspirations. The bottom line was that of thinking out of the box, keep eyes on the ball and act with agility.
LDM: My development team has grown from an in-house cosy group of four people to a more than 50-strong talented team serving as the foundation, engine and R&D for our own technology platform. What each one of us at eCabs Technologies learns is that working here brings a massive advantage for technologists to test their skills against the world’s best, whilst learning, developing themselves, and growing into leadership positions as the company matures.
“A huge competitive advantage”
MB: An essential part of this success has also been the huge competitive advantage of having everything we need from an operational perspective within a 100-meter radius. Our headquarters practically resemble a giant laboratory with the ability to have on-field testing and instant feedback of results. We have also been blessed with the immeasurable benefit of direction from over a decade of operational knowledge and experience which facilitates development and improvements at speed, whilst competing with the world’s largest and most-funded players. Competing with the ilk of Bolt and now Uber has been a blessing with both companies backed by billions of Euros in funding, respectively. We’re playing in the champions’ league, which forces us to be the absolute best we can be and always aspire to be better and measure up against these technology giants.
What are the tangible results of your organisation’s development approach?
LDM: Our investments in Cuorium Technologies and eCabs have made us a considerable technology and software development business dedicated to mobility. We can stand out in the local market based on such a solid foundation.
MB: For the last two years we have been very busy reinventing our platform with our own IP and closing the gaps we needed to realise our ultimate vision. We brought the pre-pandemic consumer app experience up to the highest degree with multiple improvements in terms of usability, automation, system robustness and features, enabling our platform to be more competitive.
LDM: We also built the entire partner driver model from scratch and the extensive technology that is behind it. All these technologies are in a constant state of evolution and improvement. In this respect we have started our journey to take our technology to its next evolutionary chapter in machine learning, a project that allows our teams to leverage a multitude of our data points in the Google Cloud Learning Platform. This evolution gives us real-time, machine-enabled analysis and actions to scale quickly through big data driven decisions, as we integrate our proprietary technology with Google’s platform. The technology is in a constant state of evolution which will keep maturing and requiring best of breed talent who are eager to challenge themselves.
What are the challenges that you expect to face in the international markets?
MB: We are in a quickly evolving market of fierce competition fuelled by an ever-increasing demand for various mobility solutions as city-dwellers are more likely to leave their own cars behind, seeking alternatives to public transport for shorter and faster urban journeys.
LDM: When we made a tough decision to rebuild all our technology assets to establish our own intellectual property platform, we managed to create proprietary technology, supporting our great achievements in Malta as a unique multi-booking platform. Whilst the app market is set to grow from a current 40% to 46% by 2025 in the EU, the market is still dominated by traditional ride hailing booking means, and our platform uniquely offers the best of both worlds. We expect to leverage the capabilities and power of our one-of-a-kind platform and transpose it in other jurisdictions.
MB: We are also cognizant of the challenge that international markets hold for us, despite being firm believers in our platform, technology, and people. Global market penetration is always difficult for Maltese companies as our local market is small and isolated. Yet, we see our success in the local market, which is saturated by mobility solutions from international tech giants, as a testament to our international competitiveness on equal footing. We know that our IP is driving us to differentiate ourselves in international markets with positive feedback from foreign investors, whose due diligence has identified the eCabs platform as unique and at par with the best-in-class.
What can support you in being successful internationally?
LDM: As we are growing into one of the largest software firms in Malta exclusively dedicated to the development of our mobility innovations and technology solutions, we also keep onboarding further highly skilled professional talent to support the expansion of our expertise in, but not limited to, machine learning, data science, cloud-computing, cloud-based architecture, edge-environment management, internet of things application integration and mapping services.
MB: Our ambitious journey off the shores of Malta will be supported by our dedicated multicultural teams. They are committed to developing flagship technology and innovative solutions, making it available across cities globally as we expand. Of course, the perennial challenge to raise finance for technology products remains an uphill struggle which however we are confident will be overcome with the priceless support of the financing institutions. 2023 will make the start of this new chapter a reality for the Company, our employees and our country.
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