Vitalis Owiny always wanted to design a home-grown ride sharing app as he was tired seeing multinationals dominating the sector.
His desire was reinforced when he joined the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (IT).
“I knew the course would equip me with necessary expertise in software engineering, information security, e-commerce, among others, to challenge these global ride-sharing startups,” says Mr Owiny who is the Water Resource Authority’s (WRA) system administrator says.
He wondered why majority of Kenyan innovators are content with multinational such as Uber and Taxify.
So, last year, together with his close friends, Kennedy Ochieng and Julius Miyumo, they launched Dango Cab in the lake-side city of Kisumu.
“Dango is an innovative, modernised ride-share application that enables you to schedule travel with a transport option of your choice — car, tuk-tuk or boda-boda taxi,” the 28-year-old says.
Aside from Kisumu, they also target peripheral towns such as Kakamega and Kisii, towns under-served by cab-hailing services.
“After seeing the success of cab hailing services in towns such as Nakuru, Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret, we were motivated to take the service to the western part of the country as there were no major players,” he adds.
The app is “a seamless platform” that connects riders and customers.
“Once you download the app and access the platform, you will see an estimated fare for your trip after keying your pick-up and destination locations,” he says.
He notes that the app will then notify a nearby cab driver to accept the request from a passenger. Upon the request being accepted, the app will show the exact location of the driver and when he or she should arrive.
Mr Miyumo holds a Bachelors degree in Business Information Technology (BBIT) from Jkuat while Mr Ochieng is a hydrology graduate from Maseno University with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from University of Twente in the Netherlands.
“The app provides the driver’s information including their name, phone number, vehicle registration and type of vehicle which will allow you to identify and connect with the driver,” Mr Owiny says.
At the end of the trip, the application automatically calculates the fare that can either be paid through M-Pesa, Cash or credit card.
“When your trip ends, you can rate your driver from one to five stars. Your driver may also rate you on the app. Our feedback system is designed to help us improve our services and better your experience,” he adds.
The innovators sought loans to start the business.
“Basically, a large portion of the capital came from bank loans that each partner secured from their respective financial institutions,” Mr Owiny says.
“We started with three cars, right now we have on board 28 vehicles largely contributed by investors,” he says.
They charge drivers a commission of 12 percent.
The enterprise, Mr Owiny says, generates good money especially during holidays, festive seasons and weekends as opposed to week days where most people travel only during the evening.
“We have maintained average earnings of Sh80,000 monthly since we started charging commissions from our drivers. December was our best performing month with earning of Sh150,000. Our revenues are bound to increase with more investors and partners coming onboard,” he adds.
Dango face stiff competition from Bolt.
“Bolt launch its services in Kisumu. More players are also coming in and this will have an impact on our market share. But we have to focus on our stronghold and what sets us apart from other companies,” he adds.
Other challenge they face are resistance from the local taxis and unregulated market place-means everybody comes up with their own set of rules.
He adds that their future is to expand to more satellite towns and expand product portfolio to food elivery and parcel delivery services.
“We also want to launch our carpooling service in Nairobi and Mombasa before the end of the year,” he adds.