A long time ago, we were down at the bank manager’s place (the bank), showing off the old business plan. It was full of the nuts and bolts of how we make a fantastic user experience happen for our customers. We were very proud of it, but the bank manager looked pensive.
“That’s all very well and good,” he began hesitantly,
“But…” We offered, aiming to speed up the narrative.
“Well, I can see how you’re going to provide the best minicab booking experience the world has ever known, but when you get to the top, you’re going to need a founding myth.”
“A what?” We asked, momentarily forgetting that smartphones and Wikipedia have rendered questioning another human being a dated frippery.
“You know,” he explained, “when anything gets successful it needs to have a suitably inspiring story of how it started.”
“But we put that in!” We exclaimed, clutching at the proffered straw in an attempt to avoid revisiting the word doc for draft seventeen.
“No.” The bank manager replied firmly, “What you included was a couple of lines about being frustrated searching around at night for a cab in the rain. I’m talking about pomp, gravitas, grandeur!” He was gesticulating wildly, part of his shirt had come un-tucked, and we felt compelled to introduce a sense of proportion.
“But we’re talking about a minicab booking app.” We reasoned with the sort of humility that, if one wanted to, one might factor positively into one’s choice of minicab app provider.
“Don’t you think the citizens of a modest settlement in Italy thought it might have been a bit excessive to claim foundation by a demi-god? But look how it turned out for them!”
We were not at all convinced that he had a point, and if forced to decide, would certainly have come down on the side of ‘No, he doesn’t, he’s loopy.’ Keenly aware though, of the likelihood that this would turn into a blog post, and the fact that the intro would be hungrily eating into the word count by this point, we sighed and went back to the drawing board.
And so, this is the (entirely authentic and in no way fabricated) story (not story, description) of the founding of ubiCabs. Step aside Romulus, Remus et al, this is how a minicab booking app begins.
One day, the particular date of which will, for unspecified reasons, escape precise pinpointing by scholars in the future, the ancient city of London was plunged, peremptorily, into pitch darkness. Some celestial body or errant spacecraft had passed betwixt sun and earth, and the cowering mortals, forgetful of the perfectly plausible explanations for such events, shrieked and skriked and sought a means of getting home.
In the shopping district, people fled the darkened changing rooms in whatever mismatched collections they half had on. In the technology start-up quarter, the two or three people who weren’t working from home holed up together in a broom cupboard sharing an emergency Special Brew. In the poultry quarter, people and recently beheaded chickens ran around similarly disorientated in sight of a creative etymologist.
Running through most people’s minds, walking through some, was the idea that it would be good to get home. Alas, all tube and bus services were suspended due to ‘Celestial Disruption’. It is in this situation, if you will imagine yourself looking through the eyes of a pigeon, swooping down from a building top to the crowded pavement below and cocking a beady eye up and to your right, that we meet the heroes of this origin story.
There they were, Lorenzo, Jay and Prem, calmly, heroically even, surveying the chaos with calculating, innovative, entrepreneurial perception. People were arm wrestling at the roadside as they competed to hail passing cabs. Others were tearing copies of the Yellow Pages spine from page, cover from chapter, or however it is when you dismember a book. Others still were crashing Google with vaguely cabbish search requests.
Even while the light of realisation was already dawning on their collective, heroic visage, fate had dished up a portion of over-egged pudding to ensure the full digestion of opportunity by the trio. A black cab (light off) zipped by, splashing some unfortunates with standing water (there was a storm, also, we’ve just remembered). As it passed, it let loose a burst of smoke from its exhaust which hovered in the air before our heroes momentarily. Clearly discernible among its fumy tendrils was the smoky rendition of a smartphone user interface, displaying a point to point minicab journey.
This secret knowledge imparted, the apparition shot into the sky, defying the darkness like a shimmery grey, um, well, light. While the multitude continued to panic, Lorenzo, Jay and Prem tracked the grey wisp on its progress across the city skyline. They ran after it, twisting up alleys, haring down semi-pedestrianised markets, stopping twice at espresso bars. Long hours they tailed it through the inky black until it came to rest, at last, in the sky above a set of offices in Oxford Circus.
Instinctively, they all knew as one. They were meant to build a smartphone minicab booker the like of which the world had never seen, and they were meant to do it in this place. Immediately the doors of the building opened unto them, a choir began to sing, precipitation of blossoms initiated, an elephant wearing a ubiCabs logo rolled past atop a big red ball. Their path anointed by propitious omens, Lorenzo, Jay and Prem put their hands, as one, on the desktop of destiny, and from that contact sprang forth an Android phone and an iPhone, adorned with app splash screens of such beauty they invoked tears of joy.
At once, the skies cleared and the sun shone brighter than it ever had on the fair city of London. It was like a new dawn, a better dawn, a dawn with all Londoners able to download and book a minicab on their smartphones through ubiCabs. The people joined hands and danced the streets as Lorenzo, Jay and Prem watched over them, offering a safe ride home, whatever time of night they ceased revelling.
“Perfect!” Smiled the bank manager.
“You’re crazy.” We thought.