Nigerian bus-hailing startup, Plentywaka today celebrated its one-year anniversary of entering the Nigeria’s e-hailing sector. The transport company began operations in the country on September 16 last year when its e-hailing app went live.
After being fully operational in only Lagos for more than eleven (11) months, Plentywaka last month raised $300,000 pre-seed fund with plans to expand its operations to Abuja.
In an event to celebrate its one-year anniversary, the company’s Co-founders – Onyeka Akumah, Johnny Enagwolor, Oluseyi Afolabi and John Shaibu spoke to journalists about the journey so far, challenges, successes and the plans for the future.
The Journey So Far..
Plentywaka has had its highs and lows in the past one year. Speaking on how the experience has been for the company so far, Plentywaka Co-founder and CEO Onyeka Akumah said:
We had 25 buses on September 16 when we launched. We got the 25 vehicles brand new and then we put them on the road. It took us a while to get going because people weren’t so sure… The first month we did about 1000 rides in total. That started going up and in October it started picking.
Onyeka stated that the number of Plentywaka’s rides per day increased through December last year till February this year.
“We then went into December, the numbers started going up a bit more. We started gaining more traction. We were getting an average of 20 to 30 rides per day. It started going to 40 rides per day. In January of this year we got to a place where we were doing about 200 to 300 rides per day,” he said.
February was the company’s biggest month in terms of the average number of rides via its bus-hailing app. But just as Plentywaka had started gaining traction, the world had to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19.
We got to a point where we were at 1800 rides per day. Just then the pandemic happened and March 16 we had to pretty much suspend operations for Plentywaka in order to curtail the COVID-19 spread.”Onyeka Akumah, Co-founder and CEO
The company experienced its lowest point in April, as “there was literally nothing.” In order to keep running amid the pandemic, Logistics by Plentywaka was created to help people send items”.
He added that Plentywaka fully bounced back post-COVID-19 in August, recording an average of 1600 to 1700 rides per day.
According to Onyeka, the company is currently running a Plentywaka vehicle partnership where people can onboard their vehicles on its platform and earn up to N150,000 monthly.
On the whole, Onyeka said the company has still exceeded its expectations despite the COVID-19 pandemic, by completing 190,000 rides for over 40,000 customers in its first full year of operation.
App Crashes and Exits
Onyeka stated that Plentywaka had to deal with technical issues in the first two to three months of operation.
He mentioned that the app had a lot of downtimes when customers and riders could not access the online gateway or carry out payment transactions.
Onyeka remarked that this brought about a lot of complaints from the app users. He said this happened while the company was using imported technology.
A Plentywaka rider, Chukwudi Njoku also spoke to TechNext about the earlier issues with the app. He said:
This is my third account. Initially when they launched the app, I created the first account, it crashed. The second account crashed too. Then I had to use my company email to create another one. That was the one that stayed.
While discussing the people challenges, Onyeka also said: “We’ve had people who initially were supposed to be part of the system and somehow we just couldn’t go on with them because they didn’t believe in this dream and they had to move on.”
Adopting Local Talent/Technology
In order to solve the technical problems, Plentywaka adopted an in-house developed technology:
In November, we set up an in-house tech team. We decided to build all our technology locally. And we are actually excited that all technology in Plentywaka now has been created locally for Nigerians by Nigerians.
When asked why the company switched to local technology, Onyeka stressed that paying for imported technology was very expensive. He explained that the company initially employed foreign technology for its app because of speed and experience.
Speaking on the company’s expansion plans, Onyeka said:
So I said we had a target for ourselves that we want to be in three states. We are in Lagos and we are now in Abuja. We are considering a state in the Southeast. We don’t want to build a solution for Lagos only. There are other places that need us.
He added that the company is targeting a milestone of 500,000 rides on its app for the coming months.
A Customer’s testimony
When asked about his experience, a rider Chukwudi Njoku said:
I started using Plentywaka last year. If I am not satisfied I won’t still be using them up till this time. Initially, there were ups and downs but they have been able to resolve them. They have a wonderful customer service team. Each time we put out a complaint it takes a short time to resolve it. The company has been doing well
Congratulations to the Plentywaka team on the one-year anniversary.
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