Were reckless driving and road accidents what came to mind when you heard the word, “motorcycle” before 2015? Perhaps your mind may have additionally conjured up unkempt-looking motorcyclists driving like they had nine lives to this list. Yeah, quite the throwback right?
This not-so-pretty narrative is what on-demand mobility startup, MAX NG has been determined to change in the sub-Saharan transportation scene since its inception in 2015.
This is evidently why today if a person thought of “motorcycle“, words like logistics, mobile app, cool bikes, and faster transportation would easily make it to the top 10 on the list. A definite growth scale on both the perception and reality of commercial motorcycles in Nigeria and Africa.
MAX NG has since its inception, put together resources into making transportation of people and goods easier, more efficient, safer, and innovative for Nigerians and Africans. Has this worked? How has the journey for this company gone so far? Is there more to be done in the transportation industry of Africa? and finally, What could this on-demand mobility company be up to recently? These are questions which will be touched upon throughout the course of this article.
WHAT 2020 LOOKED LIKE FOR MAX NG
For companies globally, the word, “sudden” and “change” might well summarize a major part of the year 2020. The unexpectedness of the global Coronavirus pandemic took a lot of businesses by surprise and MAX NG was no exception.
So unprepared was the on-demand mobility company for the events of 2020 that Tayo Bamiduro, Co-Founder of MAX NG in summarizing what 2020 was like for the company begins by saying, “2020 was quite an eventful year for MAX NG…”.
The on-demand mobility startup kicked off the year strong but faced headwinds when, in Q1, a ban of okadas (motorcycles) was issued in Lagos- their biggest market at the time.
However, the start-up resisted by focusing on other kinds of operations such as logistics in Lagos. Before fully recovering from the blow of the ban, COVID struck and soon enough, the country had to shut down. The nature of the virus and the lockdown regulation meant the startup could no longer cater to the needs of persons needing in-person transportation services. However, the logistics arm of the business carried on.
Further to this, towards the end of Q2, MAX NG doubled down on accelerating its presence in other cities where they were already available, especially in cities like Ibadan (where operations had kicked off in February of 2020), Kano, and Akure – where the tech start-up deployed a lot of drivers. In addition to this, MAX NG drove hard on its electricity mobility project.
By Q3, the start-up was gradually navigating its way to pre-pandemic levels. MAX NG successfully closed a bond program that would help provide the financing drivers would need to maintain their vehicles – one of a kind initiative for the transportation scene in Nigeria.
By Q4, the country was rocked with activities of the #ENDSARS movement and protests. On its part, the MAX team continued to improve on safety, enabling its drivers, scaling up partnerships with state governments in south-western Nigeria in respect to help formalizing and digitizing public transportation.
FUND-RAISING PARTNERSHIP WITH DLM
In explaining the reason why MAX NG partnered with DLM on the fund-raising project, Adetayo Bamiduro, co-founder of the mobility start-up, had this to say, “For any business, access to credit or funding is very critical for any government as well especially when driving development agenda or objectives. Whether it is traders or transport operators. Credit is a very scarce commodity to come up with in a country like Nigeria especially for persons without assets or collateral, land etc. this project is one of its kind as it allows informal operators to gain access to high-quality brand new vehicles without coming up with any collateral.” This marks a significant achievement in providing access to under-served communities by creating that bridge they need to start generating income for themselves. This is the most exciting part of this project.
Explaining the strategy deployed in the fund-raising partnership., Bamiduro continued, “We went about this partnership in a creative way; we partnered with DLM, Shell and a bunch of other investors. These investors looked at MAX NG’s track record over the last 3 to 5 years to understand how we operate, the technologies we’ve built, and the systems we’ve created to allow us to be able to take this kind of risk.”
Once the start-up deployed this strategy, they were confident of creating a trustworthy business which could allow informal transport operators access vehicles without any form of collateral – a significant milestone for MQX NG in terms of pushing forward the agenda of extending access to credit and funding to people who otherwise would never have had access to such.
TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIONS BUILT BY MAX NG
In terms of the roles that technology plays in the transport and mobility space. MAX NG has built a number of elaborate technologies; the first category being the digital market links connecting drivers to commuters in real-time, as well as anyone needing access to transportation and delivery. These technology-enabled persons get their transportation needs met at the click of a button. Hence, providing commuters access to move around with safe drivers,
The second category of technology built by the start-up deals with capturing data on vehicles or managing these vehicles. Details such as the speed of these vehicles, distance covered by them. Furthermore, this data captured enables the start-up to ensure that maintenance routines are carried out properly, drivers aren’t breaking speed limits, vehicles are being used the right way, and the life-time of the assets are being prolonged. MAX NG has also built in a lot of technologies to keep the vehicles and customers safe. For instance, the technology around digital payment was designed to enable the flow of money from the start-up’s customers to their drivers, and even to the start-up’s financing partners. This payment gateway is transparent to ensure, transparency, zero wastage, and full accountability for every single transaction carried out on the MAX NG platform
The third category is the bespoke electric motorcycles specifically designed for Nigeria and Africa. This took the tech mobility start-up 2 years to achieve and the company is proud to unveil the M3 – a state-of-the-art electric motorcycle designed for both private and commercial use in sub-Saharan Africa.
WHAT DOES 2021 LOOK LIKE FOR MAX NG?
2021 for MAX NG will be driven by expanding on already existing products and technologies.
Africans and Nigerians should expect exciting news, anticipate new cities where MAX NG services will be launched, new products, as well as new scale-up in terms of people empowered by the platform.
Some more things Africans should expect from the start-up, are more partnerships with local and foreign governments in order to transform the transportation space, roll-out of new products, and more news around fund-raising as well in terms of the impact MAX NG will be creating in Africa.
In his concluding remarks, Bamiduro had this to say,
“One of the key things MAX NG prides itself in is our people because everything we achieve is made possible by the people. A very critical aspect of our next phase is giving our people a lot more opportunities to continue to deliver at scale and also bringing onboard people who are excited about transportation and mobility in Nigeria, who’d love to achieve the impossible, do extraordinary things in the development of transportation of Nigeria and Africa.
If you’re a genius out there, interested in transforming mobility in Africa, we’d love to talk to you.”