Namibia’s public transport industry is fast going digital and with the entrance of Piggiback, a pro-Uber user friendly taxi-app already operating in the coast, business is likely to be unusual.
Before The Villager even broke the news of the LEFA taxi-app finding a niche market in the capital buoyed by Namibia Breweries’ support, Piggiback co-founder Nikolai Kaufmann was already operating.
Kaufmann, who rather prefers to be called by his smooth name says his application should rather be seen to be Namibia’s first and original mobile app ride requesting service.
Driven by nothing short of the sheer zeal to disrupt the industry and make Namibia catch up with the rest of the world, the start-up has managed to get off its feet without a heavy corporate backing and adequate funding.
“We had to save up from our salaries,” Nikolai’s voice dominates the phone speakers as he speaks with this reporter from his coastal base.
And that is why nobody heard about Nikolai and his co-founder, Gerald Hatton, who happens to be a floor manager of one of the growing shops in the area.
“We aren’t a big spending organization with the marketing clout of Namibian Breweries, but we were first and we have tried to do something about drinking and driving in Namibia long before LEFA launched.”
“We are looking at strategic partnerships to enable organic growth and brand awareness, of which we have a few in the pipeline, but until that happens, it would be nice to know that the little guy can also get some support, even if it is a David vs. Goliath scenario, a scenario I’m sure you yourself have a little understanding and intimate knowledge of,” he says in an email.
Yet with the convergence of integrated emergent technologies empowering the omnipresent smart-phone, how much of it are Namibians ready to trust and embrace?
Nikolai says there is a fear within the market, one that says innovations that empower the other side of the seas may not be acceptable in this pocket of the continent.
Yet a taxi mobile application that save the purpose of merely hollering for a taxi is a mundane thing in the crispy clean streets of Capetown, he says, and Namibia does not deserve not to be part of the revolution.
Sadly, a latest Readiness of the Future of Production report by the World Economic Forum that lists countries deemed to be ready to embrace new technologies bringing massive transformation to the nature of industrial revolution, does not include Namibia.
This, nevertheless does not deter these tech-savvy entrepreneurs from daring to dream and waking up to take the biggest risks.
“We launched our service on the 15th of December 2017 just in time for what is traditionally Namibia’s really silly season at the coast, and we have been operating non-stop ever since.”
“We are defined as a Ride Sharing service specifically employing regular Joe’s (myself included) that are in desperate need of work or extra income. Piggiback is wholly Namibian and 100% privately funded by myself and my co-founder Gerald Hatton, just tow guys trying to make a difference and where in the past big business has failed, we have tried to step in,” says Nikolai.