Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi is a taxi hailing app that gives passengers the convenience to book taxis regardless of time and place and with guaranteed, high-quality services; that’t why they are ‘Easy Taxi – Your taxi one touch away’.
Easy Taxi was, for the very first time, founded in Rio de Janeiro Brazil in 2011 by Tallis Gomes. It is now present in more than 27 countries globally, one of them being Nigeria which is the first African country to settle in.
The global firm with operations in Kenya and Nigeria connects its clients to transport providers that are available in the market and guarantee you the quickest pick up time and highest quality ride all at the lowest possible cost. TechMoran talked to Nigeria’s EasyTaxi CEO, Bankole Cardoso, and he had so much to reveal about the Start-up, but first things first, let’s start by telling you a few things you didnt know about EasyTaxi.
- What was the inspiration behind EasyTaxi, how it began and what it took you to get where you are now?
The original inspiration for Easy Taxi was to create a safe, trusted and convenient means of using taxis in Lagos. Of course we are now expanding to other cities in Nigeria but I noticed that there was a poor taxi culture in Lagos in particular. I had numerous friends and family that would not even consider a taxi as a transportation option in Lagos because of the security risk. Through hard work we are making taxis more appealing to more people but we realize that we have a long way to go.
- What were you doing before EasyTaxi?
I was working at The Carlyle Group in New York City. Carlyle is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world. To put it loosely, private equity firms invest in companies whose operations are underperforming and use their expertise and network to turn around the operations and create value for investors. So I had a lot of experience analyzing the operational performance of different businesses in different industries.
- Did you know you were going to be an Entrepreneur all along or did it happen by chance?
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur but I can’t confidently say that I knew all along that I was going to be one even though I have been working towards this opportunity for a long time.
- How successful are you in the business? Is there competition? And how do you face them
We are still a very young company as we have been operating in Nigeria for less than a year. We have had successes but most importantly we keep learning how we can improve our application and our service for our customers because our customers own us. There is competition in many forms, traditional taxi companies, other app developers and other means of transportation but we realize that the best way to face competition is to give the user the best experience possible whenever they request a taxi through Easy Taxi.
- How far have you gone in terms of expansion, and which countries are you eyeing?
We have recently launched in Abuja. I am particularly excited about Abuja because the existing infrastructure is a lot more conducive to our technology than Lagos and there is an already existing taxi culture there. We keep receiving requests from enthusiastic users to start in Port Harcourt, Enugu and Benin. I think those will be the nest three cities we go to. Outside Nigeria we have also started operations in Accra and Nairobi.
- How is the response in your market, and who is your most important client?
The response has been emphatic in Lagos and that is why we are looking to roll out expansion to other cities as soon as we can. We have a never lose a customer policy because we look at every customer equally. We have corporate clients, individuals and governmental clients but none is more important than another.
- Which are some of the major partnerships you have done and how has it influenced you business?
The most influential partnership we have had has been with Samsung. The team at Samsung has been really great supporting us with promotions, events and other publicity as we try to establish our business. They have a true entrepreneurial spirit and it is great that such big companies can help out small start-ups.
- Comparing the markets that you have worked with and the different African countries you have explored, how would you rate Africa’s adaptability of your product?
It is promising. Smartphone adoption in Africa is still low but Africa is the region with the highest Smartphone penetration rate in the world. Africans are just being exposed to these technologies and we are discovering the power of applications on our devices. This can only help Easy Taxi.
- Does ICT play a big role in you organization?
We are primarily an ICT company so we rely heavily on ICT. Our application runs though ICT and servers store all our reports and information. I am a big advocate of technology and now my employees are too.
- Does your company have the power to influence ICT, If yes how, if no why?
Most definitely Easy Taxi is already influencing ICT. We recently had an event for our drivers where Google gave our drivers a training on Google maps. This is so powerful as our drivers are always on the road and can identify improvements on Google maps in Lagos and Abuja. I think it is quite amazing that we put our drivers in front of Google to see how we can contribute to Google Maps.
- Where could you place Africa compared to the world in terms of ICT development?
Africa is clearly behind in terms of ICT development but we have a massive advantage in the sense that we can leapfrog development especially in ICT.
- What do you love most about your business and your life as an Entrepreneur?
I enjoy the fact that we are at the forefront of a technological advancement in Nigeria. We have literally rolled out a new transportation system in Lagos and this makes us highly relevant. I love being an entrepreneur because my days are flexible even though they are long. I work very long hours and there are many challenges but I enjoy it. I have a list of the problems that I have to solve and a second list of the new innovations that we can introduce.
- What keeps you and your team motivated?
My team and I are making a real impact on the Nigerian transportation network and how people move around. We strive to make the experience as enjoyable for all of our passengers as we can. This is our ultimate motivation.
- What can your team not live without?
Email. It is how we communicate.
- Is there a specific skill one needs to join you, if yes what is it
There is not one specific skill that I look for but I am fortunate to have a team that is as driven and excited about Easy Taxi as I am.
- What does EastTaxi have in store for the future except expansion?
We still have a lot of improvements to make in how we move people around but in the future it is possible that we could expand into logistics and transporting goods.
- Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
I always looked up to my older cousin. He took me to my first football match, always got me the latest music and taught me many other things like how to drive.
- What advice would you give to any person who wants to follow your example
I would encourage them to pursue their dreams and be prepared to work harder than they have ever worked. There will also be many ups and downs so it is important not to get carried away or get too down on a day to day basis.