Entrepreneurship is one of the biggest buzzwords in today’s vocabulary, almost every youth is looking to be the new Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or even nearer home Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa.
Rarely have such opportunities come by on a silver platter, some like the amazing story of our entrepreneur of the Month Fezile Dhlamini, the Founder and Managing Director of South Africa’s only Green Scooter (PTY) Ltd truly inspire.
Fezille set out to tell us how he was rejected more than ten times when he applied for jobs in both Uber and Taxify and this inspired him to launch his own unique and South Africa’s first scooter ride sharing taxi hailing company and oh, it has an app for you
Here is the interview
Tell us about Green ScooterZA, how did you start and what is the story behind the inspiration to launch?
The reality is, I applied to work for two competitors in the past three years and got rejected. Rejected and depression have been my sources of motivation ever since I could remember. The Idea for Scooter came to me in December 2015 when I was on holiday in Richards Bay. I was traveling in the town a lot and concerned with the commuter and how much more they had to walk to complete their trip – the last mile. So I began exploring different vehicles used for transportation and the one that stuck out was the Auto Rickshaw, primarily known as the tuk-tuk.
Looking at the Tuk Tuk I was not impressed by the look and feel of it, and having been in it I know the discomfort that is there. Definitely a No! But I carried on looking for alternatives that seem safe, comfortable and most importantly reliable for the market. I ended up finding the Zbee scooter manufactured by a Swedish company who I have managed to get into a ziplock tight relationship with as I kept pestering them with emails, pitched to their over a video call, eventually flying to Sweden (bootstrapping) and making it official on the dotted line. Scooter is more than just a ride-sharing and e-services platform – this is going to be an amazing business that tackles so many parts of the industry that include bringing a micro-factory to South Africa for Africa and expanding across the Southern Hemisphere over time. The Mantra of Green Scooter is the following: Building a sustainable business that can last a lifetime through renewable energy concepts.
Uber and Taxify both declined my job applications 10 times in the past 3 years. Because I didn’t “fit the criteria blah blah”. I then sought to creating my own opportunity and @ScooterRSA was born.
If all doors you knock on don’t open, build your own. pic.twitter.com/wUqXhx0yJF
— Fezile Dhlamini (@AudioTheBrand) April 12, 2018
How old have you been in the industry and how many are you in the team?
I have been in the digital industry for 8 years now, equipping myself a lot of things related to tech. I am a Strategic Corporate Communications graduate from the University of Johannesburg and a BA LLB Rhodes University failure. What I studied at UJ is what has equipped me to better channel my thinking.
I currently work alone, however, I went through the “Need for a Co-founder” phase where I was just building a sinking ship with people. Right now, as we grow into a functioning organisation, I will be looking for strategic partnerships and employees to help build this amazing organization.
What challenges have you faced developing your app and could you highlight the milestone of your development?
The challenges faced with developing my own app was that I do not code AT ALL. So I have had to find alternatives to that. I have engaged with companies in the US, India and finally found one in SA that speaks my language. I have just found this new dev company and they are just starting out with the dev, we will be ready by end of July 2018.
Is the technology and transport industry conducive for upcoming firms like yours? Does government reach out for you?
It is not conducive, this is because locally nobody wants to innovate and improve their business offering. People think for now and not 10 years from now, which I have in all that I have planned for Green Scooter as a whole. I have reached to our local government MANY times and written letters to ministers directly trying to get them to see the value in my business and how it can have a significant impact financially, socially and environmentally. I hope they respond someday – sooner rather than later.
How many countries do you intend have in your client portfolio?
In Africa we intend to cover these countries: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Egypt & Tanzania. In South America, a continent I would like to explore, I pretty much want the whole place under our portfolio as we understand the challenges faced in these developing countries with transportation and basic infrastructure.
Where do you see Green ScooterZA going in the next 5 years and what more products are you going to surprise the industry with?
Scooter is going to be a global hegemon that would have cemented itself well within Emerging Markets. We are more than just a Ride sharing platform as we also look to building Giga/Micro-Factory that will create sustainable jobs and more eco-smart cities in the future. As for the projects, we cannot disclose these as yet as those are the magic to our formula.
What is your advice for young techies?, Share a managerial secret.
No matter what happens in life, you probably won’t hit your precise goal, but the higher you aim, the higher you’re likely to hit.
Find people that complement your skill set and try to marry the two, it is not easy and you will kiss a lot of frogs a long the way. Just make it work and leave the excuses for losers.