Cynthia Akinyemi seats with Mr Cardoso of Easi Taxi in our Zainab issue
-Tell us about yourself and how you came about easy taxi in Nigeria:
My name is Bankole Cardoso, and I am a Nigerian Entrepreneur that is passionate about development in Africa. I was working in New York City before starting Easy Taxi Nigeria. I used to come home a lot and I noticed that there was a poor taxi culture in Lagos; people did not seem as willing to take taxis in Lagos as they are in other places so they often seek out alternative means of transportation and it often ends in them buying a car. So I approached Easy Taxi which is a global company and that was how Easy Taxi started off in Nigeria
How long have you been in business?
Easy Taxi Nigeria has been in the business for almost a year now; we started off July last year.
Tell us about the services Easy Taxi Provides?
Easy Taxi is a free smart phone application that can be downloaded from Andriods, iOS, Windows and Blackberry devices. What Easy Taxi does is connect users to the nearest taxis to them in the quickest way and provide them with high quality service. How it works? Every Easy Taxi driver is connected to our network so when a user makes a request, the app uses a GPS to locate the closest drivers and sends a signal out, one of them accepts the ride and picks up the customer, so at any point we never want a driver to be more than 1-2 kilometres away from the passenger
What inspired you to start this sort of business?
In Lagos in particular, taxis are not as vibrant as in other big mega cities for a number of reasons. There wasn’t really a high quality taxi service available so the average user experience of taxis in Lagos has been average to poor. That disappointed me because I enjoy using taxis. I use taxis in other cities but whenever I was home for holidays I found that it was not so straightforward. I sometimes had difficulties trying to get a taxi because it was either so hard to find one or there were safety concerns or other different issues so I realized that there was room for improvement.
What is the vision for the company?
Our vision is to transform the taxi experience for many people, especially to help make transportation more efficient in Nigeria. Many urban areas in this country have transportation challenges so we want to have a positive impact on those networks. We recently started operations in Abuja and intend expanding to areas like Calabar and Portharcourt soon.
How did you find the business when you first started?
When we first started, I was outside 10 hours a day pitching to different taxi drivers, going to different taxi parks, the first stage was showing taxi drivers a brand new app and a new business for themselves. Initially, they didn’t believe that they could do business and make money form their phones so they were not receptive but as time went on, they started to understand exactly what benefit it will bring to them, and this piqued their interest. On the user end, the first set of users were excited as they did not believe it could happen in Nigeria, and after a lot of positive reviews, the acceptance was almost immediate
What are the challenges you faced since you started this business in Nigeria?
The taxi culture, it is not as vibrant as it is in other places for major reasons like pricing so every single taxi is a negotiation and that’s been a big issue for us, there are no taxi metres or anything showing that this should be the price of the fare, so we had to step in there to make sure drivers are fine with the price and also the customers are also fine with it. That’s the major challenge we face, other than that, we are a brand new business innovation in Nigeria and before this, there have not been any big call centres that you can just dial 0700taxi and get a taxi, so it is transitioning from having to go through ones phone where you have over 30 taxi driver’s numbers to trusting a service that can bring you 500 of those same guys, that’s one of the progressive things that we are facing.
you can get the whole interview on our Zainab Issue…