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internationalisation

eCabs primed for internationalisation by June 2023

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 bests, 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.

In the press:

Business Today

Cuorium Technologies

eCabs’ tech arm Cuorium Technologies eyes international expansion

Former eCabs Chief Executive Officer Matthew Bezzina recently took over the leadership role at Cuorium Technologies.

Malta’s ride-hailing company eCabs has shown impressive growth lately and, propelled by this success, its founders are looking to expand into new international markets. Most still think of eCabs as a transportation operator but in reality, at its core, we discover that behind the popular brand we see daily on our streets there is a technology and innovation powerhouse called Cuorium Technologies.

This business is poised to take its products into the mainstream of one of the most competitive and fast-paced sectors in the world: mobility. To chart this path, the company recently announced that former eCabs Chief Executive Officer Matthew Bezzina has now taken the leadership role at Cuorium Technologies – with a very clear vision of where this will take their business and the Maltese tech scene.

The Malta Business Weekly sat down with Bezzina to talk about the growth potential of Cuorium Technologies, what the challenges and opportunities are, and how the future of mobility is shaping up.

How would you describe the eCabs journey so far?

When we started the business over a decade ago, at the centre of our most rudimentary thoughts was how we could harness the emerging technologies to overhaul an archaic sector which thrived on the typical closed-shop culture that stifles innovation, competition and improved service delivery. Many – up to this very day – think of us as a transportation company but in effect we are an innovation-driven business which was capable of adapting technology to bring about a transformation in the mobility sector in Malta.

This has been a fascinating journey for us, particularly when you consider the uphill struggle any tech start-up faces in this country and this is why I look back with a sense of satisfaction and pride witnessing the way the business has grown over the years despite many challenges.

The major game-changer in our trajectory came about when we took a very tough decision and opted to re-build all our technology assets internally in order for us to own the intellectual property of all our platform, which would enable us to leverage what we achieved in Malta and transpose it in other jurisdictions.

Cuorium Technologies

After a huge investment and many man years of effort by all our fantastic tech team at Cuorium, we are now thrilled to see Cuorium Technologies embark on this exciting, new journey as we head for the internationalisation of our e-hailing platform.

What awaits you in the global mobility markets?  

We have no delusions of grandeur. We are grounded in reality. And whilst being firm believers in our product we are cognisant of the daunting challenge ahead of us. Our market intel clearly points at at a rapidly evolving market in practically all the continents, with ever-changing mobility trends and needs dramatically changing the world over.

Whilst international market penetration is always a tough proposition for a Maltese company we are striving to differentiate ourselves by leveraging our own IP and provide an e-hailing platform that delivers convenience, trust, and speed to both the driver and the passenger at the most affordable rates internationally. Our success in Malta is a living testament that our platform not only works but can also compete on equal footing with the mobility tech giants, something that makes us extremely proud of what we achieved and the space we’re in at the moment.

What are your expectations of the global mobility market?

As mobility is evolving, people are increasingly more likely to abandon their cars for running short-distance, urban errands. In this context, we expect the demand for services such as our platform to increase significantly across all demographics.

Forecasts see the European ride-hailing market reaching a value of over €51 billion in 2025. More than 160 million European residents will have used ride-hailing mobile applications by then. According to a Deloitte study in 2020, customers increasingly favour ride-hailing apps over traditional taxi services. It is important to note, that while the figure of 160 million passengers may seem high, it is only 20% of the entire population of the European Union. So, yes there is definitely potential for further market growth and expansion.

Today a small number of giant operators with rigid and complex model have captured the global market. These models are not nimble and flexible enough to enable existing fleet operators to participate in the e-hailing market through a seamless transitionary process, without making any capital outlay. Our model is squarely based on achieving a strong dose of fairness for:

  • the passenger (offering convenience, exceptional functionality and highly affordable rides).
  • the operator (delivering a fair return for the local champion of the service).
  • and most importantly the driver (ensuring he/she gets the lion’s share of the revenue generated).

What is your take on the Maltese start-up scene?

As much as I would love to say that there is a start-up ecosystem, I have to be frank and say that it does not really exist. We learned this the hard way. Incentives are negligible and procedurally cumbersome. Funding at the beginning of the project was non-existent, and as young entrepreneurs we never really managed to break the glass ceiling of the ‘established business community’.

Having said that we have recently witnessed a sea-change in attitude with the advent of the Malta Development Bank which is moving in the right direction to support viable and bankable businesses with the potential and commitment to make their venture happen. Hopefully other institutions follow in their footsteps so that we gradually start to create the much needed start-up ecosystem in Malta.

What are your strategic plans for supporting your internationalisation?

We have massive developments in the pipeline, which in turn will create further demand for the growth of our in-house technology team. By the end of the year we estimate to be one of the largest software firms in Malta fully dedicated to the development of our mobility technology assets. We will be onboarding more talent on our team as we increase our expertise in areas such as (but not limited to) machine learning, data science, cloud-computing and cloud-based architecture, edge-environment management, IoT application integration and mapping services.

I am also a firm believer that the success of our company’s internationalisation lies in the dedication and strong sense of belonging of our multi-cultural team. Apart from being an exceptional experience for all of us, the multi-culturalism of our team will be also commercially essential as we venture into foreign markets of diverse cultures. Our team, our leaders, my fellow founders and I are now on the starting blocks of a global race to penetrate as much markets as possible through our scalable platform. As we embark on this journey, we remain committed to fly our technology and innovation flag as high as we can across all the cities we shall be penetrating. The real journey starts now.

In the press:

The Malta Business Weekly 

restructuring

eCabs announce restructuring & appointment of new CEO for Malta operation

Matthew Bezzina to lead the internationalisation of the Company after restructuring.

Leading ride-hailing and technology company eCabs has appointed the leadership team that will be executing its growth programme both locally and internationally as the Company is preparing itself to establish operations in international markets in the next 12-24 months.

As CEO for Cuorium Technologies, eCabs Technology arm, and the leader for global operations, Matthew Bezzina will be spearheading the internationalisation efforts for eCabs technology platform. Co-founder Andrew Bezzina replaces him as CEO for the local ride-hailing operations, in a period that is registering record performance and an ever-growing team of partner drivers.

In his forecast for 2022 and beyond for the local brand, Andrew Bezzina explained how despite all the challenges, 2022 is seeing eCabs registering double-digit growth on its best performance, a clear result of the company’s investments across all its business units.

“Our technology platform is continuously growing and improving with over 1,400 partners driving on our platform locally, a number that has exponentially grown over the last 12 months and which keeps growing. Local triple-digit year-on-year growth remains an ambition we are relentlessly working towards in the forthcoming years,” he added.

Restructuring and investment in its tech platform

The last two years have also seen eCabs accelerating its investment in its technology platform, as it positions itself to launch its technology in the exciting and growing international ride-hailing industry. The pipeline of investors and potential partners in the company’s target territories for its first wave of global growth is extremely encouraging.

“Forecasts state that the European ride-hailing market is to enjoy an annual growth rate of 12.5 percent. This is worth an estimated €45 billion in 2022. By 2025, Europe forecasts a mobility market of 160 million people, which is just 20% of its total population and still predominantly using offline channels – figures that show a global industry that is still in its infancy, with substantial growth opportunities,” Matthew Bezzina said.

Whilst eCabs’ principal interest remains that of launching the brand in different territories, the company also offers white-labelled software solutions to brands in any territory. “The leadership team we have put in place is already reaping its benefits. We are better positioned to keep growing our business. Thereby making make a national success out of our home-grown efforts in the digital space” Matthew concluded.

In the press:
Malta Today | Times of Malta | Who’s Who