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Travel Smarts

Calling All Cabs

This story appears in the July 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's a scene all travelers can relate to: You're in an unfamiliar city and need a cab, but you can't locate a . Or perhaps you're at a pay phone with the number for the cab , but you can't find a quarter to make the call. A frustrating situation like this was the inspiration behind the business that partners Neal Andres, Robert Stone (above, l. to r.), Ari Emanuel and Ron Altbach founded last year.

"We thought `What if you could call one number and get a cab anywhere in the U.S.?' That's got to be a convenience for business travelers," says Andres. So the entrepreneurs established a toll-free number, (800) USA-TAXI, that forwards incoming calls to an affiliated cab company in the caller's city. To date, 350 cab companies in more than 2,000 cities nationwide are licensed with Tempe, -based 1-800-USA-TAXI Inc. Andres anticipates that within the next six months, the network will be linked with the top taxi services in all major U.S. cities, offering complete coverage nationwide. There's no initiation fee for the cab companies selected to participate. Their only expense is the cost of the rerouted toll-free phone call and a 16-cent referral charge.

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