The 12th annual Meffys, supported by F-Secure, is open for entries and return to London this Autumn. Continuing our spotlight series we speak to last year’s winners to find out what winning a Meffy meant to them and what they’ve been up to since they celebrated their win.
This week, we catch up with GoMetro, the winner of the Innovation in a Growth Market Award (this year called the Innovation in a Mobile First Market). GoMetro Founder Justin Coetzee shares what’s in store for the business next.
What did Go Metro win a Meffy for?
GoMetro won the MEF 2014 award for Innovation in a Growth Market for our GoMetro Mobile Website.
It is very difficult to collect and create transit datasets in emerging market cities due to the chaotic nature of the transport systems, as well as the lack of IT skills in these transport companies and city authorities. Transit data is very difficult to collect and map out in the first place, and then keep up to date. GoMetro has positioned itself to create transit datasets in cities such as Johannesburg – in order to service the mass market of each city with public transport data via mobile app and mobile web. The app is a mobi-site that is a data-driven transit app for City Transport that provides a user with schedules from operators with mapping and routing that GoMetro captures in the field. This baseline data is contextualized by integrating with control-centres and operational centres with GoMetro’s own web-based admin panel to capture real-time alerts. These real-time alerts are supplemented with crowd-sourced updates from users in the system.
“South-East Asia is set to explode, and we are actively looking for partners in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines. We would love to take GoMapp and GoMetro to South East Asia – and are working with MEF to facilitate this.”
Why do you think the judges picked your entry?
All markets that have large cities with semi-formal transport systems (rail, bus or taxi) and a lack o information are viable markets for our service. This corresponds to about 1000 cities with populations of more than 500,000 people – or 3 billion people in the Globe who could use our service. We have done an integration of our transit feed technology into News24.co.za – Africa’s biggest website to reach a wider audience with Public Transport information. This feed is active and reaches 3 million South Africans each month. We have grown to 150,000 monthly active users and generate 2 million travel requests per month on USSD. We have contracted with Metrorail, Gauteng Department of Transport, and successfully delivered local solutions of the system for Gauteng, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. 69% of our users report that they use Public Transport more regularly because of GoMetro – so we are reducing their individual carbon footprint. 64% of users report an improved brand perception of Metrorail.
What have you been up to since winning the Award?
- GoMetro was named the best early-stage startup in Africa by Get In The Ring (GITR) in Rwanda and was the runner up in the 2014 Get In The Ring International startup final in Rotterdam, the Netherlands – and we are now raising a new round of funding.
- We launched a “light” mobile app: m.gometro.co.za, optimized for the emerging world, this app requires a minimal amount of data and is designed for older phone models. m.GoMetro.co.za also provides public transport information to commuters in all 11 official South African languages, making it the first transport app that is truly accessible to all South Africans, in their mother tongue.
- GoMetro also launched a service earlier this year for commuters to “Email-your-Boss” from a delayed train. This feature was designed for the South African developing environment for users who do not have email addresses and are accessing train times and delays on older phones. They don’t even need an internet connection, using our USSD service to email their employer. This button was featured on international media as an Emerging Market Innovation.
- Although GoMetro provides data on Metrorail routes, and recently added certain bus companies’ schedules as well, minibus taxi information has remained difficult to capture and produce. As a result, GoMetro felt that South Africa’s transport is not truly integrated until minibus taxi routes are documented and mapped as part of the formal information system of a city’s transport system. GoMetro started a mapping initiative and built a complete map of all the public transport options, including minibus taxi’s in Bellville, Western Cape.
What are your plans for the year ahead?
GoMetro Mapping has initiated the Mapping SA Project to map public transport in each city in South Africa using our innovative Android App. Public transport users can contribute to improving public transport information within their cities by mapping and contribute towards efforts to develop a transport info app for their city.
Mobile ticketing is a lead that GoMetro is currently strongly pursuing. A ticketing solution as easy as checking airtime balance in South Africa. mTicketing with GoMetro reduces cash in a public transport and provides customer convenience. It requires no infrastructure, no readers and no integrations. Ticketing is a simple process that parallels the traditional paper ticket process commuters are already familiar with. Using our USSD platform, mTicketing will work on any phone – smart or not. mTicketing on GoMetro is secure and non-tamperable, with verified and audited records.
Apart from your own, which mobile region is most exciting to you right now?
South-East Asia is set to explode, and we are actively looking for partners in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Phillipines. We would love to take GoMapp and GoMetro to South East Asia – and are working with MEF to facilitate this.
Judged by expert panels of international journalists, analysts, academics and VCs, the Meffys provide companies and innovators with an unrivalled opportunity to be considered for the global mobile industry’s top accolades. With categories covering Apps, Consumer Trust, Enterprise, FinTech, mHealth, Mobile-First Markets and Consumer First, the 2015 Meffys reflect the broadening mobile ecosystem. Deadline for entries is 17th July 2015 – get yours in now.