With a similar business model as Uber, SafeMotos a safer and convenient means of transport via motorcycles reinvents the transport industry with its ingenuity and surety of client comfort and safety. With road accidents being Africa’s number two reaper, SafeMotos a Kigali based start-up has devised a system to make our roads safer. It is able to track more than 500,000 kilometres of its drivers and only connect clients to drivers with safer speed. Through its vision, SafeMotos continues to provide superior customer services to its client’s whiles ensuring a safer, comfortable and faster way to reach ones destination. Eric Nshimimana the Marketing Manager of SafeMotos engages us with insights into SafeMotos’ operations:
What is SafeMotos?
SafeMotos is a Safer Uber for African motorcycle taxis. Starting in Rwanda, SafeMotos uses a Smartphone application that connects motor passengers to safest and best drivers. The app uses built-in devices, accelerometer and gyroscope that enable uses to track how our drivers drive. By tracking safety telematics like data, we are able to rank drivers based on their safety score and only connect customers to drivers with above 85% control score.
What do you do and who are the brains behind this ingenuity?
I’m Eric Nshimimana, managing marketing activities here at SafeMotos. Actually, Peter Kariuki, a Kenyan and our CTO, and Barrett Nash, a Canadian and our CEO are also the co-founder of this innovative company. They started SafeMotos in December 2014. They applied for an Ireland accelerator called CARMA and they got accepted to start developing the product. And we officially launched the product in June 2015 last year. Being involved in motor accident at that time, Peter and Nash knew that they were up to something great. Something that can give people hope to survive the journey when they were on the backs of motors.
How long has SafeMotos been in existence and how did you manage to overcome the challenges that surfaced during the introductory stage?
We’ve been operating here in Kigali since June 2015. In fact, a start-up at an introductory stage encounters several challenges including market understanding and how the service can be tailored to meets customers’ needs. SafeMotos’ biggest challenges at the introductory stage were market understanding and product development due to inability to find skilled developers here in Rwanda. To overcome the challenge of the market, we did a comprehensive market research on both sides, customers and riders and contacted focus groups to really understand what customers and driver’s needs. Then, built an app that reflects those needs. For example, after realizing that both drivers and users had issues of negotiating prices, we built a digital wallet called SafeMotos wallet that relieves customers’ frustration of having to carry money every day and gave the drivers the ability to save money to improve their standard of living.
What inspired the formation of SafeMotos?
The formation of SafeMotos was inspired by the fact that motorcycle taxis are fastest movers of people in African cities, but they are dangerous because sometimes they are being ridden by amateur drivers who are way too dangerous. Reducing road carnage is an inspiration that keeps SafeMotos alive. According to Rwanda Nation Police, 80% of accidents in Kigali involve motors, finding ways to contribute in making people safer, is our biggest inspiration.
Tell us more about SafeMotos’ services?
After analysing the market and realizing that people are afraid to take motorcycles because they are too dangerous and their drivers are unprofessional. We decided to launch SafeMotos with Uber-like app that connects passengers with safest and professional drivers around the city. SafeMotos drivers become trained in different areas including how to use maps, how to greet customers and how to deal with a situation during a trip and this makes them outstanding compared to street drivers.
We are so excited that we’ve launched SafeMotos for Business that enables business to keep their employees safe and track their spending and expenses where they get receipts of trips taken by its employees for better accounting.
We are hoping also to appeal to non-smartphone users by allowing users to take a SafeMotos off street without having to use the app to order. Cool, right?
How do clients get access to SafeMotos service and how many clients does SafeMotos have as at now?
To access SafeMotos services, customers need to get the app on their app store services, register and start taking trips. Currently, we do over 2000 trips per week and overall, we have + 10000 registrations.
How is SafeMotos financed?
Basically, with SafeMotos, drivers do more trips than normal street drivers and earn enough money on a daily basis. Charging 110 RWF per Km, we charge drivers 20% commission for each client that we bring to them. However, we are planning to launch AdMotos, which is an advertising platform within the SafeMotos that helps Companies to bring customers to their doors within the app. This will add to our financials, it’s our next business model we’re looking at.
What makes SafeMotos unique and distinct and how does the app work?
Despite making money, it strives to make every person’s trip safer than before. The uniqueness of SafeMotos is that it combines safety features in the rider-sharing app to make people safe. To use the app is simple, you open up the app and then see the map of Kigali. Choose the location and then request the driver. And only be connected to the closest safe driver available.
SafeMotos is accessible on mobile platforms such as Android and iOS, Have you considered extending your services to other platforms such as windows and feature phones?
We are currently on Android and iOS version and we’re looking forward to extending our services to windows and putting the app into the local language to appeal to all locals who can’t even read, but want to use our services.
How many countries are SafeMotos operational in and which other markets do you intend to expand into?
SafeMotos is currently operational in Rwanda only, but looking forward to expand to other markets including Ghana, Tanzania.
What is SafeMotos major challenge and how do you manage it?
SafeMotos biggest challenge is finding skilled labour especially in app development, which I think Africa is still lacking. To manage it is to find that one guy who can make it happen not for today for the future.
What does the future hold for SafeMotos?
The future holds the rise of a unicorn that comes out of Africa. And SafeMotos believes that it can become more successful and make people’s lives safer than ever before across Africa.
A short word of advice to young African entrepreneurs
A short advice for young African entrepreneurs is that the path to building a successful product is not linear. To break the deadlock, sometimes, they just have to stand out and try things that don’t scale to build that one thing that will scale for the long time. Being an entrepreneurs doesn’t mean waking up and finding your business skyrocketing, you just have to work for it, use available resources at your disposal to bring a better product that everyone will love to use.
“The future holds the rise of a unicorn that comes out of Africa. And SafeMotos believes that it can become more successful and make people’s lives safer than ever before across Africa”. These words are resounding and I believe Africa is the beacon that will lead the entire world into the future.