Move over Uber. Moovn, a Black-owned ride-sharing app based in Seattle, is making major moves not just in the U.S. but Africa as well. Launched by Tanzania-born, U.S.-based Godwin Gabriel, Moovn was initially launched in six U.S. markets before expanding to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Having been in the transportation industry before, I was initially inspired to build the Moovn platform after repeatedly hearing drivers complain about low wages and their dissatisfaction with working on other rideshare platforms. I also felt that both customers and drivers needed a differentiator in the market. It wasn’t until I traveled to Africa and noticed that I couldn’t get a cab to come get me after being caught up in an afternoon storm that I began to seriously explore this idea, explains Gabriel. It’s very common for taxis in Africa to park in one location and expect customers to come to them whereas it’s very different here in the U.S. Consumers here can order virtually anything through an app. I returned back to the U.S. and began the work of building an app that would address both U.S. and Africa transportation-related constraints.
And it seems Gabriel was really on to something. Moovn has grown fast. We officially launched Moovn in June, 2014 in only three cities and have since grown our operations across 12 cities around the world. We are projected to be in a total of 75 cities around the world by the end 2017, he says. My vision for Moovn is to become the Amazon of emerging markets simply because we have a robust transportation logistics platform with currently over 36,000 operators. Our technology’s geolocation capabilities present us with not only opportunities to move products and services from the marketplace to the consumer, but also transform lives. The platform works very similarly on the customer and driver end as you would experience on other rideshare services.
But Gabriels initial startup got off to a rocky start. He actually taught himself to code by tutorials on the Internet but his first app was incomplete. He shifted his focus after this to get his MBA, which he did at the University of Washingtons Foster School of Business. Still, Gabriel kept his entrepreneurial dreams alive. He reworked his app, and came up with Moovn, which lets users book rides, instantly or ahead of time, selecting the type of cars they want. I bootstrapped much of the platform in the beginning and later received funding from a private equity investor which helped to scale our technology capacity, says Gabriel.
Moovn also offers rides with motorcycles and tricycles (also known as TukTuks in Tanzania). He started Moovn with a staff of 12 at its Seattle headquarters and an additional 37 full-time employees at Moovns Sub-Saharan operations. In the U.S., Moovn works in New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
Along the way, Gabriel has faced some business challenges. Challenges are always a part of a growing business. For instance; we had difficulties courting investors and developers to help us grow our platform in the beginning. However, we never let that hinder our progression and overall vision. Weve focused on strategic partnerships in addition to tapping our own individual strengths in order to build the Moovn enterprise into what it has become today, he says.
But he has overcome these challenges and has moved to make Moovn stand out, We offer No Surge Pricing; the ability to pre-book your ride up to a month in advance; and we strive to cater to diverse consumer demographic areas and neighborhoods, says Gabriel. On the driver side, we charge a much lower commission (15 percent); drivers will make more and we also allow tipping on the platform. We are committed to taking care of our partners by putting them first. We believe that by taking good care of them, they will also take good care of our customers.
Looking ahead, Gabriel has major plans. He says, Goals for 2017? Moovn is aggressively growing its operations around the world. We are projecting to be in 25 cities across North America and Africa this year, and an additional 105 cities around the world by the end of FY 2018.
He adds, The outpouring of support by people from all over the world has certainly overwhelmed us. Weve been receiving tons of calls and messages from people praising us for coming into the space. We believe Moovn is shaping up to become a global mobility company that is inspiring people and changing lives around the world.