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MUN graduates set to launch NL’s local ride-sharing service next week

From left: Nana Abekah, Haris Barki and Frank Nie are the co-founders of Kabby, a horse-drawn transportation company based in St. John's that could become the first of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador.From left: Nana Abekah, Haris Barki and Frank Nie are the co-founders of Kabby, a horse-drawn transportation company based in St. John's that could become the first of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador.

From left: Nana Abekah, Haris Barki and Frank Nie are the co-founders of Kabby, a horse-drawn transportation company based in St. John’s that could become the first of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador.

From left, Nana Abekah, Haris Barki and Frank Nie are co-founders of Kabby, a new ride-sharing company that plans to begin offering rides in St. John’s on Monday. (Submitted by Haris Barki)

Hot on the heels of Uber’s start of operations in late April, a second ride-sharing operation – this one based in St. John’s – is expected to begin serving Newfoundland and Labrador next week.

Kabby — created by co-founders Nana Abekah, Haris Barki and Frank Nie — is set to begin offering rides in St. John’s at 10 a.m. Monday. The group was poised to become the province’s first ride-hailing service in February, but delays in obtaining insurance delayed the launch.

With Uber since its establishment in the province, Nie said the preparations until Monday have been exciting and nerve-wracking.

“There’s a lot of competition here. So it’s going to give us, you know, a little bit of bang for our buck,” Nie said Thursday.

He said the group had identified two areas where it believed it could beat Uber: pricing and driver benefits.

Nie said Kabby’s business model does not currently include price gouging, which increases fares when rides are in high demand.

Nie said the group also spoke with Uber drivers about how they could improve the overall driver experience.

“We’ve kind of had to play it smart a little bit. We obviously can’t compete with the resource, so we’re kind of focusing on making it affordable for the passenger – but also giving the driver a little bit more benefits than what Uber typically offers,” he said.

Abekah, Barki and Nie, who met while students at Memorial University, created Kabby out of a need they saw for more transportation options in the St. John’s metro area .

Nie said the local connection will help them once they start operations, Nie said.

“Whatever events happen, you know, whatever happens in the city, in the province, we can quickly step in and make changes. And, you know, blend into the community much better than a giant global company,” he said.

Kabby will start small with about 10 drivers, Nie said, but is ready to expand if demand sees fit.

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