Uber-style taxi app ZayRide, which launched in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in September, has launched a crowdfunding campaign as it looks to build its team and improve functionality.
Disrupt Africa reported in September on the launch of ZayRide, which claims it is ideally suited to the slower internet speeds encountered by users in Ethiopia. The startup’s on-demand taxi dispatching system connects riders and taxi drivers based on location.
ZayRide has now launched a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to raise up to US$100,000 to hire more software engineers, integrate SMS and call functionality into the app, set up a call centre, run marketing campaigns and train drivers.
“We are crowdfunding to enhance our service and set up a call centre so customers can request taxis without access to the internet or smartphones,” said ZayRide founder Habtamu Tadesse.
“We believe we have a good product and we thought crowdfunding would be a great way to raise the funds that our product requires.”
Initial uptake of ZayRide in Addis Ababa has been positive, with Tadesse saying the app has more than 15,000 users. He said ZayRide is better suited to local conditions than Uber would be given that it is tailored to work on slow internet.
“Uber requires 3G, LTE or fast internet speeds, whereas ZayRide works perfectly on slow internet,” he said. “So it can be applied anywhere in Africa. We minimised the features and we use low resolution pictures so it can work on slow internet.”
Like Uber, ZayRide does not own any cars, but rather works with taxi companies and takes a 15 per cent commission on fares.