Justin Coet­zee talks about GoMetro

Meet­ing Justin Coet­zee

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - BY BLAIR BURMEIS­TER

Justin Coet­zee, founder of GoMetro – a mo­bile in­for­ma­tion ser­vice for Metro­rail com­muters – is one of a small hand­ful of South African en­trepreneurs in the smart city sec­tor. GoMetro came third glob­ally in the Voda­fone Global App Stars in Nairobi and third place in the Gaut­eng In­no­va­tion Com­pe­ti­tion, which launched the start-up’s suc­cess as a mo­bile travel com­pan­ion in Gaut­eng. We chat to the man be­hind the idea.

What is GoMetro?

GoMetro con­nects Metro­rail with its com­mut­ing cus­tomers through mo­bile chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. It’s an app that gives com­muters tai­lored in­for­ma­tion on real- time ar­rivals and departures, cur­rent lo­ca­tions of ve­hi­cles as well as early no­ti­fi­ca­tions of op­er­a­tional break­downs and travel dis­rup­tions.

Why did you de­cide to launch the ser­vice?

I was a reg­u­lar train com­muter be­tween Bel­lville and Century City in Cape Town, and wit­nessed the lack of dig­nity ex­pe­ri­enced by most com­muters. The over­crowded con­di­tions, the lack of se­cu­rity, and the un­re­li­a­bil­ity of the ser­vice were frus­tra­tions to fel­low com­muters. I would over­hear moth­ers phon­ing home at 18:00 try­ing to find some­one to fetch their chil­dren from day­care and wit­nessed the panic of stu­dents miss­ing ex­ams. I con­stantly heard sto­ries of work­ers l os­ing their j obs due to un­sym­pa­thetic man­agers who couldn’t be­lieve that the trains could be late ev­ery sin­gle day.

You have two part­ners who are Govern­ment bod­ies (Metro­rail and PRASA [Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of SA]), how did you get them to buy into the idea?

It took a lot of per­se­ver­ance. What we found is that if you can prove you are able to solve prob­lems, the op­por­tu­nity grows. Our Govern­ment body part­ners un­der­stood the value propo­si­tion of our so­lu­tion and are now us­ing the GoMetro plat­form to im­prove the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

You’ve taken on a mo­bile-only strat­egy, what is the rea­son for this?

We’ve taken a mo­bile-only strat­egy be­cause our users are on the go and mo­bile is where the South African au­di­ence is. This so­lu­tion is par­tic­u­larly ap­pro­pri­ate con­sid­er­ing that 92% of re­gional rail com­muters have mo­bile phones. Built into our sys­tem is a con­tent de­liv­ery plat­form, which al­lows other mo­bile prod­ucts and ser­vices to ac­cess our user-base to deliver com­muter-spe­cific mo­bile me­dia to com­muters who are en-tran­sit.

What im­pact does the ser­vice have on the phys­i­cal Metro­rail sys­tem?

We don’t have the power to make the trains ar­rive on time or pre­vent them from break­ing down. But we do have the power to give com­muters a plat­form for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ac­cess to timeta­bles and up­dates to the sched­uled ser­vice, which was never avail­able to them be­fore.

Have you re­ceived any as­sis­tance (fi­nan­cial and other­wise)?

We’ve re­ceived con­sis­tent sup­port from the mLab South­ern Africa, the I nno­va­tion Hub i n Gaut­eng, the Band­width Barn i n Cape Town, An­gelHub, KnifeCap and In­foDev’s Global Men­tor pro­gramme.

We are cur­rently rais­ing our first round of fund­ing (which is re­ally tough to do in South Africa), and are talk­ing to quite a few funds and an­gel in­vestors about our in­vest­ment case. GoMetro has been boot­strapped from day one so the fund­ing we are cur­rently seek­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.