If you've caught a cab in Vancouver lately – or any other major Canadian city – you may have amused yourself with a tablet-like touch-screen terminal that plays videos and lets you pass the time playing skill-testing games.
You may have called that cab in the first place using an app called One Taxi. And you might even have charged your smartphone in the cab using a complimentary device called Play Charging.
All three of these innovations were created by the same 35-year-old entrepreneur – Zach Killam, founder and CEO of Play Taxi Media, One Taxi and Play Charging.
Killam’s career as a serial entrepreneur began in university. He ran a vending machine company while pursuing a political science degree at University of British Columbia, and later earned a law degree. He spent three years as a lawyer specializing in business law, including mergers and acquisitions.
With traditional media advertising going through a major disruption, Killam realized taxicabs were an ideal advertising “vehicle” because they have captive audiences.
“What is great about the taxi is that you have someone captive for 15 minutes, on average,” Killam said.
In 2008, Killam and his business partner, Steve Lowry, launched Play Taxi Media, raised $5 million in investment capital and secured international licensing agreements. The company is now valued at $25 million and has its touch screens in 1,400 cabs across Canada. The Play Taxi Media advertising network reaches 1.8 million people and delivers 100 million video impressions, nine million page views and 12,000 hours of interaction time each month.
In 2013, Killam launched One Taxi, which traditional taxi companies pay a licensing fee to use to provide some functions that are similar to what the Uber app provides.
A year later, he launched Play Charging – a smartphone fast charger that cab companies can install in their cabs as a convenience for customers. Play Charging generates revenue through brand sponsorships from companies like Telus (TSX:T) and Just-Eat.ca.
“Play Charging has been profitable from inception and won Canada’s most prestigious media award – the gold-medal Media Innovation Award in 2014,” Killam said.
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