Egypt’s LocName to roll out e-commerce, delivery service

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Egyptian GPS address book navigation platform LocName, which currently has web and mobile versions, will this summer roll out its second phase, an e-commerce and delivery service providing a complete end-to-end solution to allow businesses to capture and record their customers’ addresses accurately.

LocName was launched in April 2014 by co-founders Mourad Alashry, Zeinab Alashry and Mahmoud Moghazy, with seed funding from Flat6Labs Cairo. It has since raised further funding from an angel investor and expanded to become a team of seven full-time employees, with more than 10 million users accessing its maps and location services every day.

The startup provides navigation solutions for users including travellers, pedestrians and drivers, looking to end navigational complications and make finding certain addresses easier.

“If you’re trying to get to a particular address by relying on strictly conventional means, chances are you’ll bounce across some complications – long and twisted addresses, odd coordinates, indefinite locations, and descriptions that will lead you anywhere but where you want to go,” Mourad Alashry, who is also LocName’s chief executive officer (CEO), told Disrupt Africa.

“LocName has made sure that while you’re navigating the streets in search of where you want to go, you don’t have bump into these complications ever again.”

The LocName iOS and Android app aims to simplify urban mobility, and was inspired by Mourad’s experience of problems finding address locations while vacationing in Barcelona. The startup looks to create a more coherent and user-friendly navigational system for the average person.

“Think of LocName as a non-numeric zip code, where users can remove lengthy addresses and replace them with short, customised names instead, and easily share those new names with their friends and clients, and save time locating a particular address,” he said.

Users are then able to build an address list of their most visited locations, for easy access while on the go. The app finds a user’s GPS location, and then gives that location a name. This new “LocName” will be a user’s location’s new address, which they can then share whenever they want anyone to find their location.

Well, that’s phase one, anyway. LocName is currently in preparation for phase two, which it believes it will be ready to launch within the next few months. The LocName API e-commerce and delivery service is targeted at online and delivery businesses, easing the process of getting goods to their customers. It will also come with an additional range of tools to optimise and track the delivery process, making it faster, more affordable, and more convenient than traditional methods.

“LocName API technology is divided into three basic but essential components,” Mourad said.

“Firstly, it is an address form simplifier, providing a replacement for long addresses with one simple field that predicts the correct address based on the user’s input. Second, it offers a backup dashboard report that provides the necessary information for delivering customer orders, including distance, time, and cost for a particular order and the shortest route plan to deliver said orders. Finally, the LocName API offers a delivery tracking solution that connects office teams with their runners through a live-tracking web dashboard and mobile application.”

The startup is hopeful phase two will prove as popular as phase one, which has taken off in parts of the Middle East and Africa. LocName plans expand in the Gulf, and in Asia and Latin America.

“Our market is mainly Africa and the Middle East. The gap spotted in the region is that there is not many companies doing solutions that solve addresses and incomplete maps in the region,” Mourad said.

“Many are trying to solve logistics issues by improving transportation but no one is tackling the core issue, which is incomplete and incorrect addresses and maps.”

He believes the startup has arrived on the scene as exactly the right time, with smartphone navigation usage on the increase. Over 188 million smartphone users reside in North Africa and the Middle East, of which 56 million use various navigation, mapping, and location-based services. This is allowing Mourad – and the rest of the team – to think big.

“We dream big here at LocName. We want to remove the word “address” from the dictionary and replace it with “LocName”. One day, we’ll just have LocNames.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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