Sat | Apr 21, 2018

Get There negotiating equity partnership with AIS

Published:Friday | April 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
Christopher Gayle, CEO of Get There Jamaica Limited.

App-based rideshare and courier service Get There Jamaica Limited is negotiating partnerships with mobile money service Quisk to make its payment platform more accessible to potential clients and concurrently build up market share.

Get There software developer and CEO Christopher Gayle also told the Financial Gleaner that the company is about to take on a new equity partner, Advanced Integrated Systems Limited, in exchange for marketing support and investment in product roll-outs.

As to the size of the stake and the investment to be made, Gayle said this was the subject of ongoing negotiations, but he notes that AIS’s willingness to back the nascent company was a sign of confidence in its business model.

Since the taxi service’s start-up in 2016 by Gayle and partner Konrad Hylton, some $800,000 has been invested in its operation. Get There’s business model is similar to Uber’s ­ its app connects commuters with drivers, but the company itself does not operate a taxi fleet.

Ownersip of the operation is held through Gizzada Limited.

“Being a start-up, we have had to bootstrap the entire project. Nonetheless, we have a personally invested dream team at Gizzada with a bunch of different talents, which has made it possible for us to do what we are doing for as little as we have,” Gayle said in an interview with the Financial Gleaner.

Gizzada is in the processing of developing new software platforms, which Gayle says the AIS partnership will assist in bringing to market. One of those projects is called Jamaker, a project or start-up management app, which the Gizzada team built.

“The aim is to give entrepreneurs tools to start up and manage their business ... like a planner/calendar, budget, notes/docs and invoicing.”

Gizzada has also developed a music-streaming service called JahMah, designed “to mix music like a real-life disc jockey”.

"We think this will be a perfect way to give the world a personalised but authentic reggae/dancehall listening experience," he said.

Like Get There, Jamaker and JahMah are held through Gizzada. The rideshare service was the company's first project, but Gayle says Jamaicans have not been adopting to the use of the mobile app as quickly as expected.

To solve its banking issues, which developed because most Jamaicans do not routinely use credit cards or Visa-linked debit cards for payments, Gizzada developed an accounting system, which allows Get There to accept credit cards and cash payments.

Building usage of app

The plan to integrate with Quisk, a service operated by Jamaica's largest banking network, NCB, will "finally allow us to get the software into the hands of most Jamaicans," Gayle said. AIS is NCB's technology partner in Quisk.

Usage of the Get There taxi app is not as robust as the company had hoped - much like the dilemma facing the mobile money market. So the Gizzada team spent the past year studying the Jamaican approach to mobile technology and their willingness to use an app to call for rides.

"The latter is a culture we have had to apply ourselves to learning first, in order to build an experience that will better serve drivers or couriers," said Gayle.

"Our journey thus far hasn't been as smooth as I would have wished," he said. "We started up in September 2016 but have only really had public operations running 50 per cent of the time, as we have had to go back to the drawing board once or twice."

Since start-up, the Get There app has been used by nearly 5,500 persons. Approximately 150 drivers have been verified, 45 of whom are still active.

"We have connected over 1,000 trips or deliveries and put approximately $1 million in the pockets of drivers. This is all really promising," Gayle said, adding that his own company is projecting to break even somewhere between October and December of this year.

The service is mainly used in Kingston, but has seen "occasional usage" in Portmore, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Mandeville, he said.

The company has set a goal of 100 trips per day by the end of the year, backed by the upcoming marketing campaign, and is already eyeing expansion to other countries, starting with Trinidad and Tobago, where founders of the company have familial ties.

"This will begin in 2019. The exact month has yet to be set, but we know we will be going there," he said.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com