What is your background?
I am hacker, I love technology and I come from a small village in Kenya called Engineer. I embrace endless curiosity, I first learnt programming by printing a 400 page C++ manual at Engineer’s only print shop at 11.
How did you end up doing what you do now?
I had just moved to Rwanda from Mauritius hungry for a tough challenge, I met my business partner Barrett Nash and we started brain storming ideas. We always heard from the corner of our ears horror stories of people flying over motorcycle taxi’s handlebars and we realized, this is a serious problem, there’s our tough challenge and we should do something about that! Hence the evolution of SafeMotos began, today we are at a very different point than we started, our initial idea was GPS chips in the helmets, seriously?
Living far from the main road doesn't have to suck! A SafeMoto picks you up at your gate anywhere, anytime! pic.twitter.com/JhxTJabcgD
— SafeMotos (@SafeMotos) July 24, 2016
1 min pitch for your current venture?
Currently I am all in on SafeMotos. At SafeMotos we are trying to address the 2nd biggest killer on the continent, road deaths, with majority of these injuries and deaths coming from motorcycles and motorcycle taxis. We use smartphone sensors to measure driver quality. We do this by analyzing their movement and singling out speeding, aggressive braking, phone use, harsh acceleration, adherence to speed limits, e.t.c. Driver’s who maintain a high safety standard get connected to customers seeking them via an app. We have launched in Kigali and done more than 40K trips in less than a year and been hailed as the startup to watch in Africa in 2016.
How did you find Ireland?
Ireland was fun! I arrived on the coldest day of the year from highs of 28 degrees in Uganda, I froze for a few minutes! However, being part of SOSV accelerator program provided a lot of opportunities to engage with industry leaders, start ups and corporations, I learnt a lot and made a lot of connections. Moreover, I learnt a couple Irish folk songs!
How did it help you to launch your company?
I came to Ireland to participate in an accelerator program organized by Sean O’Sullivan Ventures, the program was a rich intense three months touching topics ranging from building your company ground up to raising investment. We came in with a very basic product, we left incorporated and investment ready!
Tips to others / if you were doing it again what would you do differently?
One of the biggest challenges facing ICT entrepreneurs in Africa is ecosystems, Ireland has managed to create an ecosystem supporting innovation, access to talent and best business practices. I would advise taking advantage of this developed ecosystem to supercharge your business.
— Afro Entrepreneur (@afroentmag) July 20, 2016
How is the business going now?
SafeMotos is in a exciting place, we have gotten customers and drivers to care about safety and have seen tremendous growth over the last six months. It is very exciting to see drivers who the first time hadn’t ever used a smartphone understand how an app can monitor and increase road safety! Furthermore, seeing drivers knocking on our door wanting to join is refreshing.
What are the plans for the future?
My future is SafeMotos, the problem we are trying to solve is tough and is continent wide. I want to see SafeMotos spread over the continent leaving a wave of safety awareness and improvement. If we are successful, we will save lives, that is all that matters!