Are you in need of a reliable, experienced, trustworthy and verified driver? Ask Solomon Iyore, a 33-year-old HR professional and 2007 psychology graduate of Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma, Edo State Nigeria. He spoke to The Communicator on his innovation MyDriverNg.com; a platform that gives you access to reliable and trusted drivers.
Conceiving the Idea
The idea came to me through a friend’s wife who suggested that instead of me working again after resigning from my job I should begin something of my own. She suggested I serve as an agent in giving out drivers to people, but I saw this as too demeaning.
The conviction of going into the business actually struck me when my friend and I were driving through Victoria Island in Lagos and seeing a lot of cab drivers around, I was convinced that I could actually create a platform where people who need drivers could find them. So I immediately started the process last year October. The real meat of the business is actually not in the giving out of drivers but in the verification and security checks on them. That was how I kicked off; the problem of recruiting trusted drivers had to be solved which is one problem we’re having in the country.
How I Started?
We printed forms and fliers which we started distributing in Abuja and Kaduna where I had contacts apart from Lagos and we started recruitment en mass. In no time, drivers from companies registered on the platform. So right now it is the drivers who are even telling other drivers about the platform.
Once the driver is licensed and has a valid drivers’ license; but for those in Lagos you must have your Lagos State Drivers Institute card. Once you have all these and you’re tested then you can be registered on the platform.
How it Works
Someone or a company that needs the services of a driver only just has to go to our platform and then search for the driver that fits your specifications and once you select we contact the driver (s) for you. We always give room for clients to test the drivers before employing their service(s).
We do our verification in two levels: we first verify that he’s a driver and also who his guarantors are and if there’s a case of indemnity. We also check the guarantor to know if he’s fit to be one; we interview the guarantor and have interviews with him to be sure he really has full knowledge (strengths and weaknesses) of who the driver is. All the information will be sent to the client so that he/she can know what to expect from the driver.
The startup fund was about N150, 000 which was part of my personal savings. The website was built on social capital; the web designer is my friend. But the bulk of the money was spent on logistics. So far we’ve been getting funds from people using the service and we’re plowing back the money into the business. Right now we have about 700 drivers registered on the platform.
Challenges to the Business
Entrance into the market was a major challenge and this goes back to the fundamental challenge of how you get funding. Getting publicity like you know is very expensive and as much as I tried I couldn’t get the needed publicity that would suit my pocket so we decided to go for mobile marketing; We printed branded shirts and recruited marketers who wear these to offices as a way of advertising the website. We have our target market which made me think of just using the branded shirts that will serve as my advert anywhere we go.
We’re looking for institutional partnerships because this business must outlive me. Currently, we’re working on a partnership agreement with the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to train the drivers i.e. all the drivers will be FRSC-certified. This I believe will give the site a lot of credibility.
Challenges to doing Business
There are different kinds of capital in business; social capital, financial, intellectual and spiritual. This business was built mainly on social capital. Funding to me is secondary; the first thing is the idea and the willingness to run with passion. I fused both my profession and passion and created a product. I think at this stage the business is rosy enough for any investor to want to put in his/her money. At this stage one doesn’t really need money, what is needed is the passion and energy to run.