Could this Nigerian ride-sharing startup hit $1m in 18 months?

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Ride-sharing platform Jekalo.com thinks it may have found the solution to public transportation problems in Nigeria. And what’s more? It expects to see revenues in excess of US$1 million within 18 months of launching.

Jekalo.com was launched by software engineer Bolarinwa Motoni in May this year, in Lagos, Nigeria.  The startup aims to stem the increasing numbers of vehicles on roads by leveraging technology to create a seamless, easy-to-use ride-sharing platform.

“Jekalo.com is a secure and trusted ride sharing platform – currently focused on working professionals – where we connect “ride owners” who have spare seats, with passengers going in the same direction, so commuters can get to their destinations in a convenient and affordable way. No more endless waiting at bus-stops or huge transportation costs. We also save costs for ride owners,” Motoni explains.

“Our focus is provide users with a system with a high level of trust, information, technology and incentives to encourage such connections.”

Motoni says the startup hopes to create a culture of ride-sharing in Lagos, where commuters automatically prefer to turn to shared transport before deciding to put another car on the road, in a city with traffic congestion of infamous proportions.

In a bid to make the platform as secure and trustworthy as possible, Jekalo vets users on the platform through mobile phone and bank account verification, as well as with an algorithm which crawls users’ social media profiles, Motoni explains. Users can also rate each other.

Since launching, Jekalo has seen over 2,000 users signed up to the platform in Lagos alone.  Motoni says the short-term plan is to expand the platform’s user base in Lagos, before launching in other cities around Nigeria.  He also plans to use the network for courier-type services, with users to help in last mile delivery, and as such support the growth of e-commerce in the country.

“We are a pioneer in Nigeria and we have received overwhelming support and encouragement, and we have gotten people interested,” Motoni says.

In fact, Motoni says so many people are interested, the startup is on target to reach its US$1,072,500 financial projection by the end of 2016 – based on the model of taking a fee for rides shared, and from vendor commissions.

In the meantime, Jekalo is focusing on encouraging uptake, and gaining the trust of users. Technically, the startup is looking at ways to better incorporate e-payments on the platform. And it’s fundraising too.

Jekalo was one of four startups invited by startup investment fund 440.ng to a 24-hour event in July, named Deal Weekend, where the startups competed for equity investment of between US$100,000 and US$250,000.  Deals resulting from the event have not yet been announced.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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