Bike-hailing startups represent one of the most conspicuous applications of tech to everyday life around us, especially in Lagos. This is largely due to the fact that transportation is one of the biggest problems in Lagos and indeed any major city for that matter.
It is therefore not surprising that the platforms seem to be gaining a lot of traction and saying they are here to stay might actually be an understatement. They are here to thrive.
Despite the seeming success of bike-hailing startups, perhaps one, two or maybe three of them have stood out.
They include Oride, Gokada and MaxNG. Although Gokada announced a break in its operations in Lagos not too long ago, it quickly made a comeback with a new look.
As it is with any lucrative venture money makers, market saturation is inevitable. So, beyond the big three, there are other not-so-popular bike-hailing startups platforms in Lagos.
I present to you a list of 3:
Safeboda is already a huge hit in Uganda, its parent country, as well as in Kenya, its first adopted country. The startup then turned its sight to Nigeria, reportedly hiring a Customer Acquisition Lead and a Product Support Assistant for their new market. T
o crown it all, the Ugandan company announced that Andela veteran, Babajide Duroshola, would assume the mantle of Country Head for Nigeria.
“We are exploring Lagos and other markets and Babajide is leading the efforts for Safeboda in Nigeria,” Safeboda co-founder, Alastair Sussock said of the appointment in May 2019.
Babajide himself lauded the achievements of Safeboda in Uganda insisting that with its ‘aura of emotion’, Safeboda is more than just a ride-hailing company.
“I’m looking to help them replicate that in Nigeria, starting in Lagos,” Babajide says.
While Safeboda bikes are yet to hit the roads of Lagos, the Nigerian city they intend to launch in, there is no denying however that they have a strong operational presence here and we expect visibility from them soon enough.
As they take their time, we sincerely hope they would give us something that blows our minds away, even more than Oride.
EasyMobility is not new to the market as it has been around for almost two years. These guys may look like your regular bike-hailing startups, they may act like it, but in reality, EasyMobility is actually nothing like your regular bike-hailing company.
With a physical office in the Anthony area of Lagos, EasyMobility does not do apps and any attempt to reach them via the website, as at the time of writing this piece, would produce the same feedback: This site can’t be reached.
This validates the assumption that EasyMobility business model is centred on Face to Face transactions.
As a result, EasyMobility’s management wields little and less control over their drivers’ activities. As such, passengers are left entirely to the whims of the driver which may not be unintended.
“Our model allows our riders to use the bikes for whatever need they deem fit,” EasyMobility CEO, Adekunle Omololu told Techpoint Africa. “Whether they want to use it for personal use or commercial purpose, all we require of them is that they pay their daily leasing fee.”
EasyMobility bikes, as the model suggests, are leased to the drivers who in turn decide what business to do with it.
From bike-hailing to delivery and personal businesses to even subleasing, as long as the driver makes his returns, all will be in order. Consequently, the drivers are masters in the company as they decide what to do with the assets, how much to charge, and basically everything else apart from their daily leasing fee.
Hala bike NG
Despite its physical presence on Lagos roads, Hala Bike NG appears to be the least auspicious of this list. Its strong digital presence complete with an app and website has not helped much either.
According to its website, Hala Bike is run by a team of three people simply identified as Okereke, Keddei and Emeka. They are without a physical office and painfully, without a social media presence as well. How exactly they carry out their primary marketing duties, therefore, remains a conundrum.
Describing itself as a transportation network company, its operations include bike-hailing and delivery services. Just like EasyMobility, Hala Bike NG’s model revolves around giving a lot of power to its drivers because, according to its management, “we believe riders are the backbone of this entire business.”
As such, drivers are offered 100% of their income, be it fares, tips, wait and cancellation charges and everything else. It also gives drivers instant referral bonuses of N500 for every rider referred, as well as a driver referral recurring bonus in which the startup pays N500 for every driver referred.
This points to the possibility that the startup is very short on assets and of course, users, a situation buttressed by its very low app download and by the simple system of paying commissions on referrals.
While the information on its website asserts that the company is based in Lagos with operations in Nigeria at large, the reality on the ground, however, is different.
Hala Bikes have been seen doing their business, but they are a very rare sight. Its site and app look cool enough though and navigation is seamless.
To book a ride, you need to fill in your phone number after which an OTP code from an American phone line with which to verify your number will be sent to you via SMS. After that, other personal information like name, password and payment method will be required.
Then you’d have to choose a destination because the inbuilt map already shows your present location. The problem, however, is the response. I kept getting a “No bike available” response.
I strongly doubt the startup has enough assets to power its operation. This paucity of assets in the form of much-needed bikes is the reason why patronage is low and the company’s bikes very scarce on the roads of Lagos.
In the final analysis…
Bike-hailing motorcycles are quickly becoming a major feature on our roads. And like I’d always say, the sky, in this case, the road, is big enough for everyone.
Competition remains a major driver of innovation and efficiency. Thus while the major bike-hailing companies hold sway, competition from others would ensure they don’t get too comfortable resting on their oars.
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