The young Vivid Tjipura, without any background in the technology industry, has just won an award of R100,000 in a tech Startup Knight competition in South Africa for his intriguing concept “Airtaxi” set to commercialise at the dawn of 2014.
At 33, the professional state prosecutor won the prize for his concept of utilizing mobile airtime as an emergency form of payment for taxi rides. This concept advances airtime to minibus taxi commuters if they run out.
Launched by Byte Orbit, the Startup Knight competition currently in its second year, introduced a new category that includes a concept phase this year, in addition to the cash prize of R100,000. Airtax beat eight finalists announced in front of over 100 guests including media personalities during the prize giving day.
While Airtaxi received mentorship from RSAWeb co-founder Rob Golmour and Groupon South Africa CEO Daniel Guaso, other finalists too, were expected to participate in a mentoring session earlier in December at Byte Orbit’s Durbanville offices before pitching their ideas.
The Airtaxi service targets some 20 million South African commuters who use minibus taxis every week. Tjipura, who is a trained state prosecutor yet lived in the country for 10 years, is planning to bring the product to the market with the help of a major financial institution. He expects to bring Airtaxi to the market in early 2014 using USSD, and then with applications on BlackBerry, followed by Android and iOS.
In conjunction with CBD minibus taxi fares in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, Airtaxi service would agree with taxi drivers to sign up using their mobile phone numbers. Immediately, Airtaxi would send the fare together with a commission to the driver and once the passenger is transported and loads airtime. The fare would be deducted automatically as the commission sent to the taxi driver would be paid for by a financial institution yet to be revealed next year.
Taxi drivers would then be encouraged to trade airtime with registered fuel stations to get more fuel than usual, by encouraging the service station to buy airtime at a discount price and sell it to consumers at normal cost, that would be disclosed next year.
And once passengers load Airtaxi “credits” in advance, passenger transactions would not experience challenges such irregular usage insufficient airtime to cover the cost of their previous transaction.