Uber has some competition. Tanzanian-born entrepreneur Godwin Gabriel’s ride-sharing app Moovn is aiming to dethrone Uber with it.
Moovn is an application that enables you to book an exclusive driver on demand or in advance. The inspiration for the business began in 2006, following the US market crash. At the time Gabriel was managing a hotel when he got an idea to provide a service to its visitors. He tells Forbes Africa, “Back in 2006, I started a luxury car hire business with a chauffeur in Seattle for business executives, because I had already made access to these hotels. It was a little side hustle that turned into a big deal. I went from a couple of cars to 15 to 20 cars, and I had to outsource a large volume of demand to independent operators.” He continues, “It was one of those things that I was always interested in, so when Uber came, and they were doing what we did back in the day with technology, I said to my partner what if we had that technology when we were doing our business back then?”
He taught himself how to develop a working prototype for his ride-sharing idea. “We had the clientele; we had the relationships; and we had the drivers and so I sent out a little survey to some of them and the clients I had and asked ‘what if I created something like this, would you be interested?’ The response was overwhelming., It was also at the time that some of the drivers were complaining about being mistreated by some of these larger platforms, about not being able to earn a decent living and working long hours.” From this, he decided to go with the B2B (business to business) route over the consumer-driven market like Uber.
Moovn is currently active in 9 North American states with three more states planned. The company has also expanded into Africa with a presence in Tanzania, Johannesburg and Nairobi. It is also present in Dubai.
Uber’s downfall, Moovn’s gain:
Over the years, Uber has seen many controversies surrounding pricing, drivers and violent incidents across the world. Former CEO Travis Kalanick even resigned following the apps mass scandals and public calling for a boycott. [Source: 40 of the biggest scandals in Uber’s history]
Uber, valued at $72 billion, currently runs 74% of the ride-sharing market and operates in 633 countries across the world, making it the biggest player in the game. Despite this, Gabriel is confident that Uber is beginning to feel threatened by Moovn. He told Forbes Africa, “We are in our own lane, and before the end of the year, we will be a complete threat to them. They are studying us, and they know who we are. We know this because in the search words or key words on Google, when someone types in Moovn, you get an Uber or Lyft ad and it is something that is in their metadata. So they must have put our company’s name in their metadata.”
How Moovn is different:
Gabriel believes that Moovn is different because they take care of their drivers. He redesigned his app’s user experience to empathize with drivers. Moovn takes 15% commission per ride, lower than the 25% or more that many of its competitors take. He also takes a more personal stance, often recruiters drivers himself and entertaining Moovn’s ambassadors.
The aim is to cut out the middleman by communicating directly with his drivers and customers. He says, “being able to connect with people and speak to them and find solutions to their issues is where I get most of my juice. You get to hear things firsthand. This is where we fly, and we are different from other platforms. We don’t have to wait to hear via email but hear it firsthand and that helps us. Whether it is via improvement in the app or improvement in our processes, it is easy to make decisions right there and then without the hierarchy.”
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