Recently, Gokada, the motorcycle hailing outlet, celebrated her one year anniversary with the opening of its corporate headquarters at Tinubu close, Ilupeju, Lagos. The disrupting transport tech company has upgraded its re-launched mobile app for users’ effectiveness.
CFAmedia.ng caught up with Deji Oduntan, the Founder and CEO of the facility, at a press conference and he gave an overview of what prompted the establishment of the facility, its milestone and how it intends to take over the transportation challenge in Lagos, before expanding to the rest of the country.
“Gokada was built on a super simple premise; moving Lagos citizens around the traffic-plagued city, safely and quickly. Congestion smothers our entire economy and affects all businesses – from SMEs to corporate giants. We tackle this head-on, acting as a catalyst for the economy to boost productivity and keep the city moving; on two wheels.”
An average Lagosian is bound to face the challenge of daily traffic and this, no doubt, has been an uphill task for consecutive administrations of the state to solve. Although it must be noted that various processes have been put in place to ensure an effective transport system in the state, these efforts have not made much positive impact.
The Founder jumped into the mix with the idea of moving commuters through the busy roads and highways of Lagos, without them getting hindered by traffic. In a bid to scale this challenge, He identified motorcycles as the most functional form of transport in the city and the future of reliable movement from one point to another, hence, the birth of the hailing motorcycle app sometime in June 2017.
The Founder identified an existing challenge with transportation by motorcycles and that is the fact that the Lagos state government had earlier enforced the use of helmet, but after some time, the policy was no longer effectively enforced.
This policy was for the safety of the riders and the passengers and that is what Founder worked on. He leveraged on this initiative to guarantee safety and asides that, there is a three-stage process-psychometric, oral and verification for selection of Gokada riders.
These are some of the strong points the Founder has leveraged, to make the hailing motorcycle business approved by the government. In addition to that, he claimed that, in 2018, the accident rate for Gokada riders was a mere 0.0138%.
Changing the transport narrative The future is beyond motorcycle. Gokada’s future projection involves all other means of transportation, but an immediate need for ease of commuter’s movement was identified, hence, the commencement with a motorcycle mode of transportation.
According to the Founder, the brand has communicated trust, safety, speed and comfort to its users. If users at this point, are satisfied to some level of significance, then, to key into future projections, which includes bus, ferry boat, and airline, would not be difficult to achieve.
The hailing app has on its plan in moving beyond Lagos. It is currently a city operation, but the founder noted that it is a demand that triggers the expansion of a business outlet. The oversized population of Lagos state, compared with its land mass, has in one way contributed to the traffic challenges that the city is currently facing.
The effectiveness of the app and riders
“Investing in drivers, investing in tech, incorporating feedback from our customers into our product design, providing reliable and fast service to thousands of riders each day – these are all core aspects of what we have prioritized over the past year of operations at Gokada, as we work tirelessly as a team to be the future of two-wheeled transport. Whilst we celebrate and look back at a strong first year, we are now doubling down to make 2019 an even bigger year, as we consolidate our position as the motorcycle market leaders. As part of this, we will be looking to launch in new cities as well as introduce new verticals to our offerings”.
With lots of complaints on the effectiveness of the Gokada app, in terms of staying too long to get a response and the likes, the Founder stated that the bikes are not yet evenly distributed around the city of Lagos, hence, a concentration of the riders in some specific locations. With this density, a commuter who requires the services would encounter slight challenges in response time, if the location of hailing is far from where the bikes are most concentrated.
Self-reliance has been the key to sustaining the outlets, a reason for the non-availability of the Gokada services in some parts of the city. The founder, however, assured that there would be a re-launch of a financial capital project, slated for April 2019. An imbalance between demand and supply has been the major challenge bedeviling the app, which has seen over 100,000 downloads.
On the reliability of the riders, as mentioned earlier, three stages are involved in their assessment and final background check. The founder noted that most of the riders in the outlet services are referred by existing riders, hence, a high level of trust is guaranteed. The corporate headquarters has a facility, set to train not less than 500 riders at a time.
Competition with local bikes and other hailing services Unlike the traditional commercial motorcycle riders, Gokada goes a long way beyond the street to street commuting, a distance that covers 10km and above, lasting over 30 minutes. The Founder noted that this segmentation has ensured less competition from local motorcycle riders.
“As for other hailing services operating with cars, our target option has been the working class professionals, who need quick and safe movement in the busy streets of Lagos and at the same time getting an affordable service, Gokada provides you such option”, the Founder stated.
What Gokada has in store for the future
In changing the narrative, as a privately owned business, Gokada in the nearest future will expand beyond motorcycle services; other means of transportation would be explored, ranging from road, water, and air means of transportation. The Founder noted that 25% of Lagos is covered in water and there are channels that connect other waterways together, so, why waste so much time in road traffic if you could use the waterways?
At the end of the session, there was a tour around the corporate headquarters to have a better view of the departments in the new location.