Cape Town-based startup GoMetro has launched Mini, a mobi site designed for older phones and available to commuters in all of South Africa’s 11 official languages.
GoMetro maps and reports on public transport in South African cities, and claims the new Mini service is the first transport app truly accessible to all South Africans, with users able to choose from Sepedi, Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, Venda, Tsonga, Ndebele, Swati and Afrikaans.
The new app is optimised to use a minimal amount of data to access the same service as the full site, and will work best with an older BlackBerry or Nokia phone, market segments still very strong in South Africa.
GoMetro Mini is the brainchild of Reginald Ledwaba, an intern working for GoMetro, who championed the idea and led its rapid development at the end of 2014.
“After observing that high data charges were preventing commuters from accessing GoMetro, the chief executive officer (CEO) Justin Coetzee challenged Reginald to build a multi-lingual and simplified version of the site that is optimised for these older devices, and for people who would not have accessed the internet at all yet,” GoMetro said.
“Reginald was able to complete this project in less than 20 days – and it is this product that GoMetro is launching to the public today as GoMetro Mini.”
Coetzee said the company had noticed over the last two years GoMetro was sometimes the first internet site a commuter from a township in South Africa had ever visited, as local transport information was extremely relevant content.
“It is a real honour to be the first experience of the internet for thousands of commuters in post-apartheid urban South Africa,” he said.
“We want their first Internet experience to be easy-to-use and of immediate benefit – which is why we have released GoMetro Mini. This will allow these first-time internet users to access the digital economy and the associated opportunities.”
Coetzee said the startup was particularly proud of the design and thought that had gone into the site, saving commuters money on their data usage, and added GoMetro was trying to attract the attention of a mobile network operator to offer the service to commuters at a zero data charge.
GoMetro was recently recognised in two global startup competitions, winning Best Innovation in a Growth Market at the Meffys Awards, while also finishing runner-up at the Get in the Ring competition.