The vehicle washing industry seem to be a very big one in Africa. Especially given that cars and motorcycles are always on the increase in cities, and the owners wants to keep them clean. While there might not be too many leople using tech to solve this problem, we have one in Rwanda – Pikiwash.
PikiWash is a startup that leverages tech to allow motorcycle owners wash their machines. The platform was built as a result of the founder’s thirst to make a change and find solutions to the problem.
In conversation with Kanamugire Bicura, managing director at PikiWash, a lot of insights were shared on the startup. This ranges from what led to its creation, how they have grown till this point, how they are being funded, their business model, their short and long term goals and many more. Enjoy.
Tell us about your startup, and what led to its creation.
PikIWash was born from the thirst I have always had of finding solutions for current problem in my ecosystem, and that is how I managed to find a need in the market of motorcycle operators in the city of Kigali, and later we found on the entire continent, and the potential for a business in resolving the problem of finding sustainable, eco-friendly and quick motorcycle cleaning services.
Why does Pikiwash focus on only motorcycles? How about motor cars?
PikiWash was born on a specific demand for two wheelers, but we have recently completed the business study and business plan for a similar concept for cars, and should be implemented early next year.
Since launch, how well has Pikiwash grown? Tell us up our numbers.
PikiWash has been in operation for about 6 months, and we have managed to wash up to 4000 bikes to date, in one locations. We have managed to have 500 subscribed customers who are typically likely to use our services at least once a week. We have placed an order for a second machine that will be operational by the end of the month of November 2017. To date also, we have yet to implement an extensive marketing strategy, so far all our customers are by word of mouth.
Earlier this year, you hinted to introduce cashless payments. How has that worked out so far?
The business has implemented a cashless system through MTN’s Tap & Pay, and to date, about 70% of our customers are using this payment, with new sign ups happening every day.
How big is the industry you are operating in?
There is an estimated 30,000 operating motorcycles in the city of Kigali, and our market research has shown that 60% of them wash their bikes at least once a week, and 20% wash their bikes at least twice a week. There is an estimated 1 million motorcycles in the East African Community, and more extensive market research will give us a better sense of the potential market in the region. The continent has even more potential, will markets in West Africa being of special interest for Pikiwash.
How is Pikiwash funded? Bootstrapped or otherwise?
PikiWash has received start up funding from an angel investor and has raised the other half of the funding through various debt funding. We are looking at raising more funds through equity and more structured funding.
Tell us about your business model.
PikiWash business model is really simple, generating revenue by charging customers for various type of washes, and soon, by providing minor mechanical repairs, and sales of minor genuine spare parts, provided by one of our strategic partners.
Let us in on the team behind Pikiwash.
PikiWash is mostly ran by myself, with operations being handled by Innocent Rusagara, a technician in charge of the maintenance of the machine, and one site manager who handles client relations and manage all transactions.
Are there any competitors to the startup? How have you been able to deal?
The current competition of Pikiwash is traditional wash stations scattered all across the city, and they are using natural streams and rivers, which is an obvious environmental hazard. Also, the bad quality of the water and lack of training results in inconsistent and poor services. Lastly they are very time consuming, given the fact that the washes are done manually, and by poorly trained staff. PikiWash addresses all of these problems by providing state of the art, eco-friendly and quick cleaning services for our customers.
In 5 years, how big do you envisage Pikiwash?
We are hoping that in 5 years, PikiWash will be operating in up to 8 countries on the continent, and shortly followed by the car wash sister company. We are also hoping that the expansion will be fueled by a franchising model we are currently developing.
Share with us your long and short term goals.
Our short term plans are to have the Rwandan market covered in the next year, and slowly reaching the region and eventually the market.
In just two or three words, tell us your recipes for success.
Allow me to have five: Clean bikes, ride with pride.