I’ve been wanting to look into the African startup scene for some time now. While the continent’s contribution to innovative business is generally overlooked, there are some exciting companies looking to provide creative solutions in a range of fields.
One of those is transport. Polls show that transportation issues are the third largest concern of South Africans, only behind education, and health. As such, there’s certainly a demand for new ideas to be introduced to the field. A startup from that very country, Mellowcabs is looking to alleviate some of the burden.
What Is It?
Mellowcabs is an eco-friendly, mobile app based mini-taxi service. It provides commuters with a free transport alternative for destinations within a 3km radius. A distance especially useful for urban areas, which is where the company focuses its outreach.
The cabs also provide an eco-friendly alternative to common commuting alternatives, being powered electrically, with solar panels on the vehicle providing an additional source of power. The zero emission service is a welcome innovation in a quickly developing nation, where pollution is a known problem. Even the shell of the car is created through recycled PET composites.
How does the company turn a profit though? The revenue is created through advertising streams on both the inside, and outside of the vehicle, making the venture economically viable as well, and an exciting prospect for business marketing.
Customers are able to rate their drivers through an on-board tablet based feedback system which offers transparency to commuters looking to hitch a ride.
The company is run by CEO Neil du Preez, and has been active since 2012. Based out of South Africa, the company is looking to develop their concept on a global scale.
Interest in the idea has been easy to come by as well. Business Insider rated the company as one of the Hottest Startups in Africa.
We’ve seen a lot of innovation in the transportation field over the past years. Whether it be Lyft, or Uber, there’s a revolution in the way people are choosing to travel today, and of course, startups are on the forefront of new developments.
Mellowcabs is touching on a part of the market which has been somewhat left out of the trend. Short distance transport, whether it be from your place of work to the nearest bus stop/metro station, or even for getting around a University campus has significant potential for growth. The fact that the service is free as well makes it an especially favorable alternative to a quick taxi ride which costs a few Dollars just to take you down the block.
The company would do well to focus on especially condensed urban areas. More laid out cities without a major focus on public transport (Los Angeles comes to mind) might not be ideal, but taking the idea to a number of European urban centers, or the American market in cities like New York affords Mellowcabs the ability to pick and choose how, and where it wants to continue growing.