As a tourist in Thailand and the Dominican Republic, Cyril Masson hopped on unlicensed motorcycle taxis to get around. Back home, the 33-year-old Parisian and two friends hit on a business idea that some might consider just as crazy: running a two-wheel-taxi operation in one of the world’s most genteel cities.
Motorcycle taxis are the developing world’s limos. Scooters, mopeds and motorcycles offer a fast, cheap and risky way around snarled traffic and scarce mass transit. Mr. Masson, who ran sales to French Internet companies for Britain’s Cable & Wireless PLC, had also faced clogged streets and a shortage of traditional taxis in Paris, and he realized it offered an opportunity for taxi-bikes, which can squeeze through jams.
What he didn’t expect were hurdles faced by entrepreneurs world-wide: the complexity of executing a simple idea, and of translating a business concept from one culture to another. Many overseas franchisees of successful U.S. companies, for instance, have failed because they didn’t adapt the American model to local habits.
Photo by robin.elaine.