With new funds and strategies, PickMeUp plans to take on Bolt and Uber in Lagos.


 A local competitor silently entered the ride-hailing space three years after Uber began in Nigeria and a year after Bolt entered the space. Normally, when a tech company opens an office in Nigeria, Lagos state is the first stop, but Michael Okaredje had a different idea.

Okaredje, a native of Warri in Delta state, had witnessed the difficulties that residents of the state had in getting from one location to another and dealing with drivers.

Pickmeup was founded in November 2017 and launched in January 2019 as a result of his close-to-home observations combined with a comprehensive understanding of the market terrain and consumers.

In a virtual interview, Okaredje explained that his decision to launch Pickmeup stemmed from a desire to address the lack of ride-hailing services in his hometown of Warri, as well as the large un-serviced market in Nigeria and Africa.

The startup uses tech to provide drivers for people when they need to move around. Similar to any of the popular ride-hailing apps, PickMeUp lets users monitor their trips as well as complete payment on the app.

The ride-hailing startup has expanded to Asaba, Edo State, Rivers State, Akwa Ibom, and Imo states since its launch in Warri.

However, when the covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the branches were closed and are slated for reopening from August this year.

Despite boycotting Lagos and a few other states that competitors regard as “ride-hailing hotspots,” Pickmeup has certainly benefited from this decision. The ride-hailing company has attracted more drivers and clients in these areas as it has expanded from Warri to other parts of the SouthEast.

Last December, Bolt expanded to Warri and Asaba. However, the local competition it met on the ground already had a significant portion of market dominance and had a stronger relationship with the consumers.

The years of building traction in the southeast have helped Pickmeup to test its model and its product. They have also shielded the startup from much of the competition headwinds stirred up by Bolt and Uber and have allowed it to grow in ‘peace’.

However, it is now looking to take on the competition itself with an imminent Lagos expansion.

With more than 50,000 app downloads by users and over 10,000 app downloads by drivers, Pickmeup easily dwarfs local competition not only in Lagos State but in all Nigerian states.

The two-year-old startup is currently undergoing a lot of planning and setup in Lagos. However, given its founder’s openness to test new ways and its track record thus far, 2021 might be a year of strong growth for the ride-hailing company.