DerevaBuddy.com which was launched five years ago to end hooliganism on Kenyan roads did not survive to see the light of day as the many startups under our obituaries section.
DerevaBuddy, coined from Dereva which is Swahili for Driver and Buddy which is a friend, aimed to help drivers share real-time information with their peers to help them evade traffic and save time.
However, the web app never survived because of the lack of a clear business model, lack of a team, and lack of a clear marketing strategy which led to a near-zero reach to its target audience-drivers.
Through real-time traffic data, the startup had promised to help road users understand realtime road traffic easily, but it wasn’t clear on its source and on how to verify it. The presentation of data in coloured donut charts, percentages and realtime graphs was not the best for busy drivers-most of whom have little or no basic formal education.
The realtime traffic on city roads, alternative routes, and maps on the best performing roads was mostly to be dug from social media or other platforms that were themselves struggling to attract users.
According to the developer, Kipkirui Tanui, “Everyone is using social media timelines to try and understand how traffic on their commonly used roads is performing. This information is somehow not realtime and less structured for instant judgment. It’s more complicated for a driver who is on the wheel trying to grasp this information whilst driving.”
The irony is that DerevaBuddy was using the same source for its realtime, crowd-sourced information including from various road users on all major roads and social media users. In Kenya, it’s a traffic offense to use the phone while driving. Derevauddy.com never factored these issues maybe because it was a one-man show.
“Its best for drivers as at a snapshot or glance, one can tell how a road is performing, on what time of day , day of week etc. No more need of logging onto social media to get this information. Our logged in users get more detailed information on their roads of choice that becomes their homepage when they customize their profiles. We wont tell you about Thika Road , for example, if you live on Langata Road, Instead we give you all details about Langata Road, the possible alternative i.e Ngong Road, a GPS sensitive Google maps to allow you to switch the roads if your alternative road (i.e Ngong Road) is performing better than the one you are currently on,” Tanui adds.
The model was inpractical to most road users. The platform was free for the first 3 months and then a monthly charge of KES 100 (slightly over $1). At just KES 100, the monthly subscription service was cheap. The platform could have jusdged somewhere around Ksh 10 er day.
With crowdsourced data within the app from both logged in and non-logged users, 3rd party data from Ma3route, DerevaBuddy evaluates each entry, maps them on graphs and then generates percentages and coloured donut charts.
DerevaBuddy competition included Ma3Route, RoadAlertsKE among others. s also helping road users get to their destinations safely and in time. Though it failed, DereveaBuddy was addressing a big challenge in the society. According to a report by the World Health Organization, road accidents kill as many as 13,000 road users in Kenya a year while over 50 million shillings ($578,000) is wasted a day on traffic jams.”>