Nigerian startup GatePass started life as a visitor management solution for residential communities, but has since widened its scope to help with all aspects of their management.
Founded in 2017, GatePass is a mobile platform that connects estate managers with their residents on community-related issues. It all started after brothers Muyideen and Matin Dosumu decided to try to solve issues faced by visitors accessing gated communities.
“Visitor management wasn’t something that a lot of these communities did efficiently. If you wanted to visit a friend, you could spend frustrating amounts of time waiting at the estate gate,” Muyideen told Disrupt Africa.
“The security men typically used phones and notebooks to manage visitor movements, but phone lines could go down and notebooks offered little means of processing the information captured. Notebooks were also not secure, either your guests left their phone numbers for the public to access or they gave fake details.”
The brothers started developing an app that could improve visitor management and make the process more organised, but while carrying out customer surveys and site visits they discovered the challenges most communities faced went beyond visitor management, and extended into areas like communication and bill payments.
“We found that the central issue a lot of communities in Lagos face is trust. GatePass aims to fix this by providing estate and facility managers with the data and tools that enable them to build trust and serve their residents better,” said Muyideen.
Another co-founder, Wale Lawal, came on board in 2018, and the new GatePass took shape. A two-sided digital platform, it ensures that estate managers and their residents stay connected. Estate managers create, manage and track communities, while residents create, monitor and track their households.
Seamless personalised fund management capabilities support bill generation, payment and collection, while security functions enable real-time visitor management within communities and automated emergency notifications. Real-time data capturing and visualisation provides user-friendly insight to support household and community-wide planning and forecasting.
But the platform goes further still.
“While GatePass solves important facility management challenges, we also discovered that for a lot of service providers, tapping into local communities can be difficult. At the same time, for a lot of households, services like tailoring, dry cleaning and generator or car repairs can be expensive,” said Muyideen.
“As more communities joined our platform we realised we had created a pool of potential consumers. This got us thinking what if you could connect these consumers to local service providers and brands? For us it means killing two birds with one stone: on the one hand, you’re able to negotiate better prices with service providers since you have this large pool of consumers. On the other hand, you can provide local service providers with a reliable and consistent source of income, which then feeds more income back to local communities.”
All very interesting stuff, and the self-funded startup has generated plenty of attention. A recent winner of the Lagos Urban Innovation Challenge, it has been recognised by a host of startup competitions, but the real proof of its relevance has been in uptake. Having started 2019 present in two communities and serving 90 households, by the end of the year it had nine communities and served 704 households across Lagos.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown, we lost some of our previously onboarded communities, but have since onboarded four new communities to take our total to 10 communities and 763 households. And with our pre-sign ups, we are well on course to meet our year-end target of 15 communities and have already exceeded our household target of 750,” Muyideen said.
So far, the startup’s priority has been to build a client-centric solution.
“We want to ensure that GatePass sufficiently caters to estate managers and their residents. To drive this, we have been working with a small pool of communities and directly observing the interactions between estate managers and their communities.This has allowed us to continuously tweak our offerings while securing a trusted network of early adopters. Working with these early adopters has enabled us to significantly refine our value proposition of building trust,” said Muyideen.
Currently operating in Lagos, GatePass is in the process of on-boarding its first communities in Abuja.
“Our plan is to focus on sharpening the platform experience for the rest of this year before expanding our operations next year,” Muyideen said.
“Our focus will primarily be on expanding to other Nigerian states and Western Africa. We have also received in-bound enquiries from Ghana and Kenya and plan to explore African markets from 2022. Our goal is to be active in 150 communities, serving 7,500 households by 2021 and at least 3,500 communities and 175,000 households by 2024.”
Ambitious goals for a self-funded company that is still pre-revenue.
“We have conducted several pricing experiments,” Muyideen said. “We have settled on a freemium model that generates revenue through premium features paid for by the estate managers, like additional dashboards, security monitors, and domestic staff access management, and from connecting local businesses and services to local community residents.