Pitching at kLab

On Monday Gawana co-founder's gave a pitch/info session at Kigali's first IT open space: kLab. Klab is a nice mix of IT professionals and housed on the top floor of Telecom House where Carnegie Mellon University Rwanda is also located. During the pitch we explained how the platform will work and left the floor open for discussion. One common confusion about Gawana is that it's a taxi service like Uber. As explained on our website Gawana does not hire drivers but rather acts as a peer to peer sharing service like airbnb--someone has spare seats in their car and can post these seats to our platform to get interested passengers and share fuel costs.

This service has a clear benefit in many countries as we see ridesharing explode worldwide (even in emerging markets like India and Mexico). However, one of the challenges in particularly new markets is alleviating security concerns related to sharing journeys with potential strangers. While we believe these concerns will decrease as more users are active on the platform and have positive experiences, we are also trying to create security measures within the platform. Every registered user is required to have a profile that can include a link to their facebook profile as well as background information about themselves. Both drivers and passengers have control over who they ride with. Drivers can refuse ride requests and passengers and send requests to the drivers of their choice. We also have a rating system that allows users to rate both the passenger and driver after their shared journey.

The info session at kLab was met with lots of enthusiasm and good discussion. Participants also had the chance to sign up to be first testers of our alpha app. Currently we are working with developers from the start up Tunga (a platform of top African developers) and expect to have the bug free alpha version sent out very soon. We are looking forward to feedback from IT people and those interested in the service so if you missed the chance to sign up to be a first tester you can still sign up here.

We appreciate all the initial enthusiasm and support from the Kigali community. We are looking forward to rolling out a full version of the app middle of this year. To keep up to date like our facebook page.

Co-Working Spaces & Networking

It's been a busy couple of days for Gawana. Besides working on finalizing our app before we give a pitch/info session at kLab, Kigali's first IT open space on Monday (check out the facebook event here), we've been meeting fellow entrepreneurs, companies dealing with mobile money (more on this later) payment, and investigating co-working spaces. One of the perks and also sometimes surprising characteristics about Kigali is the massive number of co-working spaces, IT incubators/open spaces, and coaching for entrepreneurs. Although there is a lot of overlap, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is what made us choose Kigali as our starting location. 

On Tuesday we visited the Office. A unique co-working that unlike many similar initiatives in Rwanda is not only IT focused. The Office offers various office and open spaces for members. Plus networking events, TED talks, and coaching. We made some good connections who might end up being coaches as we complete our pre-incubation program.

One of the challenges with the sharing economy initiatives and ridesharing is balancing supply and demand. While we've made estimates about travelers between city and the potential supply of passengers, there also needs to be an adequate supply of drivers. We've received some initial good ideas to address this challenge: advertising events like weddings (an extremely common weekend occurrence in Rwanda), concerts, etc and approaching large companies, government ministries and NGOs to access the platform for premium membership. 

Finally, thanks to the help of facebook advertising we are getting good publicity. Yesterday we were interviewed by a journalist from a regional newspaper. Overall beautiful Kigali is treating us well with the delicious fruit, friendly atmosphere, resources for entrepreneurs, and perfect weather.

Back in Rwanda

After establishing Gawana in September 2015, Gawana's co-founders are back in Rwanda enjoying moto taxi rides, delicious fruit, and beautiful hilly Kigali. Thanks to the help of a team of CMU-Rwanda students we have an alpha version of our ridesharing app. Yesterday, we spent the day doing some debugging to make the app completely functional for our first group of app testers.

The next two weeks will be full of meetings with people who might like to use our service, potential partners, and pitching. Kigali is a city where everyone knows everyone, an ideal place to launch a pilot. Stay tuned for more updates. Soon we are looking for a select group of app testers and people in Rwanda willing to share rides through our platform!