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Monday, April 22, 2019

Using technology to improve lives

LONG before Uber and Grab entered Cebu, there was Micab, a Cebuano-made mobile application that makes taxi hailing easy and convenient.

Eddie Ybañez, founder and CEO of Micab Systems Corp., worked with Kenneth Baylosis to perfect the Micab app, which is now available for passengers to use in Cebu City, Metro Manila, Baguio, Bacolod and Iloilo. They first came up with it during the Startup Weekend Cebu in 2012.

Ybañez graduated from the Cebu Institute of Technology.

Micab eliminates the long queues of passengers in taxi stands and the difficulty of hailing a taxi. It also assures drivers of passengers.

Ybañez’s advocacy is for the country to enjoy an upgraded taxi experience that is clean, comfortable, and modern, run by drivers who are friendly, kind, and courteous.

The app has its own call and chat interface that gives users and the drivers real-time communications and feedback. It has a built-in ticketing system, an electronic wallet for payment, and offers reward points for the drivers as incentives. It also has a feature where passengers can rate drivers for their ride experience.

Micab currently has 5,000 partner-taxis in the country, of which 3,000 are based in Cebu. Taxi bookings in Manila (with 1,000 partner-taxis), though, are much higher at 10,000 bookings a day compared to Cebu, which has fewer than 1,000 bookings a day despite it being a Cebuano-app.

Micab has logged 90,000 user registrations following its aggressive promotions in Manila and its accreditation as a TNC by the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board last April 30.

The app is available for download in both the App Store and Google Play Store.

What was your first job?

I started out as a web developer for a local IT company here in Cebu.

Who inspired you to get into business?

The Filipino people. Majority of the average Pinoys are primed and conditioned to be an employee after finishing school. I came from a family without any entrepreneurship background and I know that my mom sent me to school with the hopes of me someday having a high-paying, stable job.

After my stint as an employee, I realized I could make a bigger impact other than achieving financial freedom for myself and my family by giving people jobs through running a business. The concept of inspiring other people that it’s possible to start and grow your business and multiplying job opportunities for a bigger group has become my personal advocacy.

When did you realize this was what you were meant to do?

The moment that I saw the problem and realized that I had the technological means to solve it, I was inspired to get it done and build MiCab. But what has kept me going is the realization that if this succeeds, it adds not just convenience but it could affect people’s livelihoods and lives for the better.

I feel it is a once-in-a-lifetime privilege to be part of something that can help change the transportation landscape in the Philippines for the better, and I have decided to not pass up the opportunity.

Why did you pick this type of business or industry?

My background is in technology plus the experience I had in providing solutions to consumers and service providers through technology made picking this line of business an easy choice.

Applying the parable of the talents, I felt it would be wrong not to use what one has to make a difference.

Where did you get the training you needed to succeed?

My previous roles while I was employed allowed me to be trained, not just in technology and management, but in business, too. I am grateful for the way that my former boss was very inclusive and transparent about running his business. It was like having an internship onentrepreneurship while working full-time and with a safety net. I will always be grateful for that.

How many times did you fail before you succeeded?

I’ve failed several times. I once had a call center that started with five seats in an internet cafe, which scaled to 20 within a year, complete with an office in one of the business parks here in Cebu. I also used to have a chain of laundry shops in Manila. But I had let go of those businesses.

Those, however, have played a huge part in my learnings toward being a better entrepreneur. The important thing is to dust it off, reflect on the situation, take what insights you can get from it, get back up again, and apply those insights.


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