Like David vs. Goliath, four-year-old transportation firm Taxify of Estonia, Eastern Europe is challenging California-based ride-sharing giant Uber head on in the cab-hailing business.Taxify just rolled out its mobile taxi-haling app in crowded London on September 5, offering cheaper rides.

The startup, which was launched in August 2013 by then just 19-year-old high school student Markus Villig, has hired 3,000 private drivers in London, making sure they underwent strict scrutiny on licensing, criminal record, and other legal requirements. At present, Uber has some 40,000 drivers in England's capital city, where three million Uber users take one million trips weekly, based on estimates of United Kingdom's tabloid Metro.

Taxify to overtake Uber and London's black cabs

Taxify is now one of the fastest growing mobile transport apps in Europe, with over a million customers in 19 countries and about 25 cities in Europe, Western Asia, Africa, and Mexico. Now, it wants to challenge Uber, which is active in nearly 600 cities worldwide. Taxify CEO Villig says he even expects his company to overtake Uber in Africa's biggest cities by the end of 2017. It is also setting its sights on Paris' lucrative market, Reuters has reported.

Like Uber, Taxify's business is connecting people with taxis and private drivers. Its mobile app allows people to request a taxi or private driver from their smartphone. In London, Taxify is likewise headed to compete with black cabs Addison Lee, Gett, and Hailo.

Lower taxi fares

Compared with Uber, Taxify fares are lower and drivers have a bigger share in profits. Taxify will be taking a 15-percent commission on booked rides in London, while Uber cuts 20-25 percent.The Baltics-based firm added it would also accept cash, aside from electronic payments, which is Uber's only mode of payment.

"We will always be cheaper than Uber," Villig told Reuters.

Uber jumpstarts troubled management

Uber is now jump-starting its troubled business, with its Board of Directors voting former Expedia chief Dara Khorsrowshahi as its new chief executive officer in August, replacing the company's beleaguered co-founder Travis Kalanick.

Kalanick resigned in June, following months of tension at the company, including reports of sexual harassment, macho culture, and the mass resignation of top executives. Last year, Uber pulled back from China, and then from Russia last July, although retaining minority states in joint-ventures in Russia and several eastern European countries.

"This company has to change," Khosrowshahi said in his first All-Hands meeting with Uber staff and investors last week. "What got us here is not what's going to get us to the next level."