It’s always nice to hear about new technology startups on the continent making a difference in the day to day lives of people. Many startups start out with the mission to do so but for various reasons ranging from poor execution to poor research into the wants and needs of their customers, few actually make a tangible impact. We thus find TaxiPark to be a breath of fresh air in the Nigerian startup technology scene.
TaxiPark helps Lagosians book a taxi within Lagos via their PC or via their mobile phones and it works. Its rave reviews online and offline from its first group of customers attest to its usefulness. Given Lagos’ notorious traffic congestion, it is clear the world of difference TaxiPark makes to its few hundred early group of customers.
We caught up with TaxiPark’s CEO, Rodney Jackson Cole to learn more about the service.
Q&A with Rodney Jackson Cole, C.E.O., TaxiPark
CP-Africa: Welcome to CP-Africa Rodney! Can you tell us more about TaxiPark…
Rodney Jackson Cole: TaxiPark is a mobile/web application that allows passengers to conveniently book affordable taxi rides within a city (currently in Lagos). It has an algorithm that helps users get the best taxi rates. TaxiPark also helps taxi operators run more effectively by managing daily transactions and drivers (fleet management).
CP-Africa: How did the idea come to life? Who came up with it/what inspired its founding?
RJC: We were brainstorming over new ideas & services in the Christmas of 2011, our awesome CTO (Ugochi N. Ugbomeh) brought up the suggestion to build a Taxi app for Lagos. She had a terrible experience trying to get a taxi for an important appointment in Lagos.
CP-Africa: Who are the members of your founding team and what are their backgrounds?
RJC: I am a Lead developer at Interactive Shack and worked on a couple projects before TaxiPark. I did the UI/UX and everything awesome about TaxiPark’s apps (web and mobile) and I currently lives in Lagos..
Ugochi N. Ugbomeh – Graduated with a BSc. Geology (2009). She always had interest for IT so she decided for her MSc she was going to switch from Earth sciences to Information Technology. She moved to Scotland, studied in the University of Glasgow and earned a degree in MSc. Information Technology. She currently works as a Performance Analyst in Glasgow. She plans on moving back home by the end of 2013 and focus on TaxiPark fully.
Timi Omai leads the graphic design team at Interactive Shack. He studied Information and Communication Technology in Ghana. He designed the TaxiPark and iShack logos and also some of the company’s early ad campaigns. He currently lives in Lagos.
CP-Africa: What unique problem is Taxi Park trying to solve?
RJC: We are trying to make the booking experience as easy and as convenient as possible (accessibility on any device; mobile and web, less time consumption, access to a wider range of taxi companies). We are also trying to change the general idea behind the taxi booking rates and services. We want to get taxi companies to compete and beat the price down to make it affordable for the average Nigerian.
In addition, we want to help Taxi drivers get more jobs as well as help taxi companies monitor and monetise their taxis
CP-Africa: What kind of adoption have you seen from Lagosians?
RJC: They have embraced it…they love it. We have gotten great feedback from all our users (existing and new), good reviews on Google play and a lot of positive tweets, blog posts, emails and Facebook posts
CP-Africa: How do you make money?
RJC: Taxi drivers buy prepaid booking credits. A booking credit is charged when a taxi ride is completed.
CP-Africa: How attractive do you think the market opportunity is?
RJC: We are very optimistic. Even though we are in our early days, we now complete hundreds of bookings monthly.
CP-Africa: Which other Nigerian cities are you already in or plan to launch in?
RJC: We currently run in Lagos, but we’ll soon kick start operations in Abuja and Port Harcourt
CP-Africa: What are some of the challenges you have faced running the startup?
RJC: It’s been an exciting adventure; a lot of surprises, a lot of tweaks and legwork to get to where we are now.
CP-Africa: Have you raised a seed round or venture capital?
RJC: We got some seed funding in our early days and at the moment have our fingers crossed as we may be getting some VC funds soon
CP-Africa: What are some of the more rewarding aspects about running the company?
RJC: Watching and building an idea to life, that’s always exciting and of course each time a ride is successful. That’s one satisfied passenger and a customer for life
CP-Africa: Where do you see Taxi Park in the next 2-3 years?
RJC: Six countries across Africa and 4000 drivers signed on the service.
Thanks for joining us Rodney! To our readers in Lagos, check out TaxiPark.com.ng. Don’t forget to spread the word.