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    Flashbike is a logistics startup that uses Fiverr to offer instant pick up services

    Nearly everyone knows someone who has had a delivery issue. There are many challenges to making a call to logistic services.

    But you can’t avoid using these last-mile delivery services. From your Jumia Food deliveries to your CDcare purchases, they’ve become quite integral to our everyday lives. Before now, we mostly used these companies to receive correspondence and large parcels — like the ones we receive from uncles abroad. The demand has increased exponentially with eCommerce’s growth.

    According to Visa’s eCommerce developments across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) report, the global eCommerce sector is projected to grow to $7 trillion by 2024. South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya are leading the pack in Africa, and with McKinsey’s predictions of a $75 billion African market by 2025, there will be no place but up.

    Projections are fine and all, but they don’t solve the current-day problems we discussed earlier. How can you decrease the wait between dispatch and delivery? And perhaps — to round it up — how do you reduce customer and dispatch company headache stories?

    Reducing wait times

    Babajide Padonu and Kolawole Robs met in early 2021 to discuss a variety of topics. Aderibigbe was a former employee of Padonu’s and they were friends. Roberts met Padonu via Aderibigbe, and the boat set sail.

    The idea was initially conceived as a joke, and perhaps a way to vent frustrations about dispatch riders. But it soon became a reality. Flashbike went from being jokester territory into serious business.

    The idea was simple: Create a platform to aggregate dispatch riders, enable tracking, and work as quickly as a taxi-hailing service.

    It took seven months for Flashbike to produce a viable version. Flashbike was available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store by November 2021.

    As many people have, they’ve had to deal with disappointments from delivery companies.

    Speaking to his own experience, Padonu said, “I’ve had a lot of [sic]. I’ve tried to send parcels and they take a long time to come. Or the rider promises that they are going to come and they don’t come or after they’ve promised, they don’t pick your call anymore after you’ve discussed everything. So, it was just very frustrating.”

    Aderibigbe was the first to propose an app. As discussions continued, questions such as funding and how this could be solved emerged. As Padonu explained, so began the research. Techpoint Africa They discovered a significant gap in their service: long wait times for pickup and delivery.

    The following table compares the wait time of four delivery companies in Lagos. Delivery usually happens on the same date, but there are different wait times for pickup and delivery. For some, it took an hour, for others, it arrived the next day — based on certain extenuating circumstances.

    Flashbike’s model aggregates dispatch companies to provide a pick-up service with the user given the option to pick whichever is closest to them.

    What this means is that, say Padonu resides in Lekki and wishes to deliver a dress to his mother in Surulere, he can open the app, set the pickup and delivery location, and he could find a dispatch rider as close as 10 km away with a wait time of between 15 – 20 minutes.

    Initial plans were to create an instant service. However, due to a shortage of riders, they had no choice but to manage expectations.

    Take a different route

    Flashbike is different from other competitors. Flashbike uses a B2B model to onboard riders, rather than boarding them individually. This involves introducing the platform and its technology to small-time dispatchers with very little tech.

    This is a Fiverr for dispatch companies.

    In some ways, this serves to mitigate the risk that Flashbike incurs, reducing issues with bike repairs and maintenance, preventing possible direct regulatory hits — although this is arguable — and training riders on customer satisfaction.

    But they have to maintain customer satisfaction. Padonu described a situation where a user waited several hours before getting their package. Although the problem was finally resolved, there was a lot of back-and-forths.

    Padonu recommended that users look for other riders on the app in order to prevent such unfortunate situations. These types of incidents are usually caused by unreliable riders, according to Padonu.

    Padonu stated that the app is currently free, which has been a great help for onboarding logistics companies.

    “In conversation with people where I tell them, ‘This is what we have, and we’d love you to come onboard,’ they’ll usually ask questions like, ‘How much are we paying?’ But when you tell them that it is free they are ready to hop in.”

    But this doesn’t always convert to actual users, he said, as sometimes they might download the app and not use it. This is not a rare phenomenon.

    Due to the model the company uses, Flashbike doesn’t determine pricing. This is usually decided by the exchange between the customer, logistics company and the customer. A very attractive option for the companies.

    A further attractive feature is the ability of these companies to track riders.

    “If you own a company, you can see whatever your rider has done on your own app. You can see the number of requests your rider had throughout the day and whether he fulfilled them. This was the one catch that everyone liked. Because sometimes, some riders can be shady and go and do their own stuff and you can’t monitor them, unless you have the money to put a tracker on your bike. Putting a tracker on five bikes is expensive.”

    An option for the average user is to live-track a rider. This option is also available to other logistics companies such as Kwik Delivery.

    While there are plans for a payment method in the future, the idea is to first solve the problem and then implement payment.

    But as we’ve seen in the past with logistics startups, freebies sometimes come back to haunt them.

    Padonu said, however that they notify companies about their intent to monetise an app as soon as they are onboarded.

    Next phase mapping

    From what Padonu told us, there’s quite a lot planned.

    Apart from implementing payments — perhaps through subscription by the companies — Flashbike wants to run ads for the logistics companies. Padonu stated that features are being developed based on workability and demand, even though the company is still in beta.

    The team brings together a variety of experience, including previous company management, in cybersecurity, system analytics, engineering, and graphic design.

    Flashbike, which is currently funded by friends and family, has no plans to raise funds. This is quite interesting. Padonu confirmed that the company was approached by investors but they are keen to expand the app’s functionality before seeking out any financing.

    There are plans to expand beyond Lagos, into Abuja, Port-harcourt, Ghana, and Kenya by 2023.

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