Meet the Seedstars World Nigeria winner: MyQ

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Road travel app MyQ, which earlier this week won the Nigerian leg of the Seedstars World competition to win a place at the global final in Switzerland, is described by its co-founder as “Uber for inter-city travel”.

Disrupt Africa reported on Monday MyQ was chosen by a panel of judges as the winning startup at Seedstars World, and will now progress to the global final where it will compete for US$500,000 in investment.

Co-founder Ishiaku Gwamna told Disrupt Africa MyQ provided a unified platform for road transport operators to publish the destinations and ticket prices, cars loading, and seats available in all their terminals for passengers to access. The app has different functionalities for station managers, drivers and passengers, with the latter able to buy travel tickets through it.

Developed on the Android platform, MyQ is now finished and set for launch imminently after discussions with its first transport operator. Gwamna believes the startup has spotted a significant gap in the commercial road transport system in Nigeria.

“If you want to travel from, let’s say, Lagos to Abuja, you have to go a terminal and inquire on a vehicle going to Abuja. If available, you pay for a seat and wait for other passengers to come and do the same, until the vehicle is filled up, then the travel starts,” he said.

“This is not guaranteed, sometimes the vehicle does fill up or there won’t be vehicle at all. You are forced to check at other stations and if it is late you have to postpone until the next day. More than 80 per cent of the population uses this mode of transportation. There are also independent drivers that get passengers on the road informally. They have their spots too.”

Competitors exist in the Nigerian market, but Gwamna says the likes of Oya.com.ng and bus.com.ng are not directly competing as they only provide ticketing services.

“What we provide uniquely is live data as it is in the terminals, automatic vehicle queuing and passenger ticketing, auto manifest… It is as simple as downloading any other app and using it for both the transport operator, drivers and passengers,” he says.

Self-funded so far, MyQ is currently looking to raise funds for a full launch, hence the Seedstars participation. Gwamna says the bulk of the funding is needed for promotion and corporate setup. But the startup is already signing partnerships with road transport unions and associations, and has reached out to major players in the transport industry.

Revenues will come from charging commission of between three and five per cent on ticket sales, while MyQ will also offer adverts on vehicles and vehicle and passenger insurance deals. Utilising big data is also an option, according to Gwamna. But for now, rolling out is the goal.

“Some of the difficulties we encounter are getting the organised transport sector to use the system. They seem to be skeptical about new technology,” he says.

“Advertising and promotions are very expensive. We need all the funding we can get to effect these. But surprisingly the independent drivers are more willing, eager to learn, to improve and expand their services. From all indication, we will have to go the way of Uber and taxis, to get the independent drivers on the platform. It is a huge and way underserved market. I think there is enough to go around.”

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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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