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Most tech-sector startups begin with a flicker of an idea to solve a persistent problem or gap in the marketplace. That was the case with Kater, a round-trip chauffeur service that is evolving the way people think about commuting. The mobile app-based business works by connecting its clients to pre-screened professional drivers, in a groundbreaking way. It makes the most of assets clients already own: their vehicles.

The idea for Kater was sparked by principals of the Monark Group, an e-commerce company that was established in 2001. Last March, when staff were commuting to meetings and evening events, the Monark principals recognized the opportunity to build a business that solves three key concerns: the dangers of distracted driving; the high cost of hiring a chauffeur; and the unreliability of using taxis, especially outside downtown Vancouver.

With investors in Europe and North America, a core team of developers, and key staff based at its Metro Vancouver headquarters, Kater has already taken off since beta testing its app last summer. More than 60 professional drivers (including women) who have passed rigorous pre-screening standards deliver high-calibre service to clients who use Kater to get around the city and to the suburbs and beyond.

Customer service and relationship-building are core values for Kater, a departure from typical e-commerce companies. App enhancements on the horizon include functionality that lets clients track their vehicles in real-time, plus a “favourite my driver” feature, among others that provide added comfort and convenience to clients.

Kater is set to expand to Kelowna this summer, with Alberta and Ontario markets coming on board in the fall. Growth extends globally too, with investors interested in the young company’s innovative offering. Next, Kater plans to expand to the U.S.A., U.K. and Asian markets, in particular, where the regular use of chauffeurs is commonplace.