Whereas at Babcock College, Chichi Arinze determined to discover a aspect hustle to assist herself and take some stress off her mother and father. After attempting actual property and failing, she turned to one thing she had at all times cherished: vehicles.
Arinze observed that college students at her non-public college typically travelled out of state throughout the weekends, so she determined to construct a enterprise round that. The automobiles that college students usually boarded have been uncomfortable and congested, so Arinze determined to lease smaller vehicles and rent drivers to move the scholars as a substitute. What began as her organising automotive journeys for college kids from her faculty, in south-west Nigeria, to Lagos, 45 kilometres away, and again, quickly became a thriving mobility tech startup, AutoGirl.
AutoGirl was launched in 2019, and affords on-line car rental companies throughout three classes: vehicles, boats, and jets. Arinze has pushed the corporate past the partitions of her alma mater to change into an organization working in a number of cities, with 18 full-time workers and 20 contract drivers. Based on Arinze, AutoGirl has accomplished 3,000 rides in Nigeria and supplies mobility companies to about 123 corporations.
TechCabal had a chat with Arinze in regards to the challenges of working within the mobility sector and what her plans for the longer term are.
What would you say are the challenges with working a mobility tech startup in Nigeria?
To start with, once I was concerned within the sale of automobiles, one of many challenges was truly being shortchanged because the intermediary. This turned out to not be an issue in leases as a result of folks really want an organization to belief and maintain accountable in the case of caring for their mobility because of the security dangers that include it.
One other problem has been the rising value of gas because it threatened to chop down our revenue margin. Nonetheless, we’ve been in a position to give you the answer of getting completely different value factors for fully-fuelled automobiles, minimal fuelling, and no fuelling. This prevented us from having to extend our costs by nearly 50% when the gas subsidy was eliminated.
Coping with drivers has additionally been difficult because it calls for lots of time and sources to be sure that they’re absolutely skilled and verified.
Safety is an important part of mobility tech. How do you method that?
After we have been coming into the rental house, it was crucial for me to truly do some aggressive evaluation of the folks that have been already within the house. I observed that insecurity was one of many main the explanation why folks didn’t absolutely benefit from the companies of different gamers already within the house, and determined that safety was a robust level that we didn’t wish to negotiate on and even gamble with.
This is the reason the variety of our drivers doesn’t enhance as quickly as all of the others do as a result of there’s lots that goes into their verification. We make sure that to confirm their places, their homes, and their guarantors, simply to make certain that the folks utilizing our service are protected. Now we have a complete group that’s targeted on checking in with drivers each single hour as a result of lots of our service high quality comes from the standard of drivers now we have working with us.
Now we have trackers on the automobiles, in addition to an operations group whose job it’s to know the placement of each car at any cut-off date.
What are some issues that you simply want you knew earlier than venturing into the mobility sector?
That I wanted to maneuver quicker and construct our technological infrastructure sooner than I did. If I had deployed sources into ensuring the platform was constructed with the momentum we obtained in our first yr, we’d be a lot greater than what we already are. Mobility tech is already turning into an attention-grabbing sector as, daily, extra gamers are beginning to see the viability. Having the first-comers benefit of a web-based platform that was already getting used way back to 2019 would have actually helped.
Have you ever skilled some challenges when it comes to eager to broaden?
Enlargement is rarely simple since you’re going into uncharted territories, however one factor that has helped us is our technique. This contains having launch managers in each metropolis that we’re launching in, and that sort of helps to offer us full native context and in addition foster belief among the many people who find themselves going to be our companions. Enlargement can also be costly, however fortunately, we’re doing it at a time when there’s lots of demand for our companies.
What are your future plans for AutoGirl?
Now we have plans to broaden to different cities in Africa, which makes me excited as a result of I see it as a solution to encourage international traders, vacationers and companies to return to Africa. They not have to fret about how they’re going to maneuver whereas they’re in a metropolis in Africa and are actually assured of protected mobility whereas they’re within the nation. We wish to enter African cities which have a lot of expatriates like Abidjan, Kigali, and Nairobi. The purpose within the subsequent 5 years is to broaden to no less than 5 African cities in Africa.
What’s driving the excessive curiosity in mobility tech?
The market is ripe, and other people can now see corporations like ours which have constructed a car-rental market with a mannequin that’s sustainable. As a result of, once we began, there have been numerous questions on whether or not this is able to work. This yr alone, now we have seen different players launch out there, and I imagine that the reason being that they’re seeing how a lot of a scalable enterprise mannequin that is. Nigeria is a rustic of people that prefer to have enjoyable and present up nicely. Now we have lots of occasions each day that folks want to maneuver round for. The necessity for mobility is nearly as vital as the necessity for meals as folks will at all times want to maneuver.
5 years in the past, not lots of accelerators have been desirous about mobility tech, however proper now, there are lots of people throughout the board who’ve realised that this sector is vital and worthwhile.
Mobility is a male-dominated sector. Are there any steps that AutoGirl is taking to carry some inclusivity?
Now we have the AutoGirl empowerment program for girls, the place we’re going to be coaching ladies totally free on methods to drive and be nice drivers. That means, they’ll earn cash on our platform both as contract or full-time drivers. We’re desirous about inclusivity and creating avenues for girls to earn cash as nicely. The drivers on our platforms earn no less than ₦100,000 month-to-month, and whereas that isn’t an entire lot, it’s a massive bounce from the minimal wage and what the typical girl in Nigeria will earn.