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Exclusive: GoMetro ride-sharing service to take on Uber, Taxify, tackle congestion

Cape Town smart mobility startup GoMetro claims it has the solution to tackling traffic in one of Africa’s most congested cities. The company plans to begin trialling a door-to-door ride-sharing service in the city in February, CEO Justin Coetzee revealed today.

Speaking at the launch in the city of the Craft and Design Institute’s new R12.8-million grants fund for craft and design firms, Coetzee said more details of the first 100-person trial would be announced in February.

He said the startup plans to run the trial for its “pop-up service” with a corporate and added the service would allow users to opt for any kind of transport service — including ride sharing, cabs, minibus taxis, buses and trains.

He said the data analytics startup has already been trialing the new service with its staff members over the past few months.

“We’ve been testing it (the new company’s new flx-offering) internally. So, we’ve got 15 people at our office in Durbanville (Cape Town) and nobody drives to work, everybody gets ‘flxed’ (using a flx-ride) to the office in shared cabs. We compete kilometre for kilometre with minibus (taxis). So we’re as cheap as a minibus taxi service, but it’s a door-to-door service,” said Coetzee.

He said the startup would reveal more details such as the pricing of the service in February. The service will build on the masses of data that the startup has collected on its big data platform.

‘The new GoMetro service competes kilometre for kilometre with minibus taxis. So we’re as cheap as a minibus taxi service, but it’s a door-to-door service’

Coetzee admits that while the platform will “potentially” compete with Uber, the service is ultimately aimed at a different types of market to that of ride-sharing users. “It’s not about competing with Uber, it’s about removing car sales from the environment,” he said.

“There’s a really interesting study that we’re basing this work on, called the Lisbon study that looked at the city of Lisbon and said ‘what if we took all the cars off the road’.

“And if you took all the cars off the road and replaced them with three percent of the vehicle fleet in taxis and shared taxis, you could service everybody’s demand… congestion went to zero and emissions dropped by 30% and everybody had the same service as before,” he said.

In October last year the startup was able to tap R10-million in funding from Tritech media, in return for a 20% stake in the business. AngelHub Ventures, representing former FNB CEO, Michael Jordaan also have a share in the startup. In addition 4Decades Capital is also an investor, with Derek Prout-Jones as GoMetro’s chairman.

Read more: Tritech Media invests 20% holding in GoMetro

The startup is also targeting to launch its solution in Milton Keynes in the UK towards the end of next year, and is also looking to raise €5 million from European investors. This, after the startup was last month accepted into the Telefonica Startup Accelerator based in the same city.

Editors note (29/11/2017): This piece has been amended to reflect that 4Decades Capital is also an investor in GoMetro, with Derek Prout-Jones as GoMetro’s chairman. In addition the company new offering is “flx” and not “flex”. Ventureburn regrets the error.

In addition, GoMetro CEO Justin Coetzee pointed out in an email to Ventureburn following the publication of this piece, that his company has no intention to “take on the minibus tax industry for their customers”. He said while the costs for flx rides are equivalent to those of a minibus taxis, “it is a very different market and operating areas than minibus taxis”.