Ride-sharing technology has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry within the past decade with the biggest names being Uber and Lyft. Now a new platform, led by an innovative chief exec, looks to stake a claim in the global marketplace.
Moovn is a ride-hailing app that is currently operating in 7 U.S. cities and has plans to rapidly expand in both western and emerging markets. Founded by Tanzanian-born Godwin Gabriel, the mobile application also operates in 3 cities in Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Gabriel’s home city, Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.
In an interview with UrbanGeekz, Gabriel talks about teaching himself to code and developing the software to launch the platform. Still, he admits his beta launch was “amateurish at best” and states, “It wasn’t until we received investor backing that I was able to hire and collaborate with a team of seasoned developers to transform the platform into what we have today.”
When asked what his biggest challenges are, he says, “The market, for the most part, is currently being dominated by Uber and Lyft with these companies enjoying the benefits of having first mover advantage with the transportation technology space. However, we’re confident that the global market remains sizable enough for all of us to fit in and play.”
In fact, operating in Africa has been a smart business strategy, particularly with the rise smartphone usage across the continent. It is also a chance to do business in markets that hadn’t been explored by big name brands. “I believe Moovn is changing lives – particularly in Africa and developing markets,” he says. “For instance, drivers earn more on our platform, are reducing idle time and are able to provide and build their communities.”
Gabriel has an impressive track record climbing the ranks of corporate America. He also has an MBA from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Stepping out in faith as a tech entrepreneur, he quickly realized that he had to differentiate his brand to create a competitive transportation technology platform.
Moovn sets itself apart from most ride-sharing applications because it allows the rider to pre-schedule trips up to a month in advance, instead of only being able to request one for immediate service. It also allows different vehicle options depending upon local modes of transportation, such as motorcycles and tricycles in developing economies. Other unique features include the movement of products and services from the marketplace to the consumer and the ability to enable businesses to keep track of their transport logistics.
Coming from a non-technical business background, Gabriel bootstrapped his startup with a burning desire to uplift developing nations. Still, utilizing mobile technology in these regions means inevitable obstacles that his team has had to overcome.
He explains, “Technology usage is more prevalent and mature in the U.S. than in Africa, not to mention these continents have incomparable rates of overall smartphone usage. Another challenge is adoption by the African consumer takes much longer in terms of educating them about the benefits of using such a platform compared to their US counterparts.”
Having a CEO of African descent gives this utility a major competitive advantage in those untapped regions. Gabriel, who has resided in the Unites States for about two decades, admits his heritage is what has a plus for investors. “Operating a business in Africa requires in-depth knowledge of the marketplace, language, cultural dynamics, socio-political influence and so forth.”
He summarizes his vision for Moovn by stating, “I believe technology consumption in Africa is growing rapidly year over year and therefore presents us with tons of growth opportunities to continue our expansion and operations within that continent. He continues, “All-in-all, there are so many business models that can be built upon this platform but our grand vision is to become the Amazon of Africa.”
Those are certainly lofty goals, however, with Gabriel’s drive and determination with the support of approximately 50 employees worldwide, Moovn is looking to become a major player in ride-sharing around the world. He offers inspiring entrepreneurs these words of encouragement:
“The journey to success is not easy, but keep the faith. Believe in what inspired you to become an entrepreneur in the first place and let this inspiration fuel your everyday hustle.”
Gabriel also revealed to UrbanGeekz that Moovn will be launching in Vancouver, BC within the next few weeks and they are also aggressively planning to expand into 20 cities across the globe between January and March of 2017.
Main Image: CEO of Moovn Godwin Gabriel