Imagine the value of 30-40% of cargo vehicles in a R500bn market returning empty? Can you imagine the savings if we could change this? And this is not just a South African problem, it’s a global issue.
Where did it all start… Well… Approximately 2 years ago, Benji Coetzee, now Founder and CEO of EmptyTrips, was driving down the N3 from Durban passing empty trucks, rail wagons and thinking of how her consulting clients complain about expensive transport costs eating into profit margins. Applying economic theory to it simply didn’t make sense; excess supply leads to lower prices, or better matched demand and supply leads to equilibrium… Then, she decided that something needed to be done, a smart market for transport was needed. Technology held the key.
That is when Benji and Herman Strauss (CTO) committed time, effort, funds and agility to develop what EmptyTrips now offers. By closing the gap, this simple, yet practical innovation would change the face of an old and traditional industry, by filling empty spaces to places for less it enables sustainable growth of sectors and reduces the impact on the environment.
And here we are. EmptyTrips!
EmptyTrips officially launched on the 3rd of April 2017 and it is a first of its kind in Africa! We use an open marketplace paired with smart algorithms to map deck-space demand and supply for transport better. By using “smart-mapped spaces” we reduce wastage on moving vehicles (Road, Sea, Rail and Water) to offer cost-savings, reducing the barriers to entry of products across Africa, and inflation linked increases for consumers. Furthermore, a reduced number of vehicles would ultimately be needed due to better utilization / yield, leading to lower congestions, and as such, is better for the environment.
EmptyTrips will be proving that new business models and innovative thinking can connect Africa and enable growth, assuring the investment community that we are moving Africa forward, smartly.
So this is what has been happening since the launch…
Our strategy includes partnering, collaborating and aligning with corporates, other technologies and customers to become the “nucleus” orchestrator. Recently we have aligned with Deloitte Consulting in Africa to focus supporting their corporate clients’ digital and venturing readiness. We also aim to assist Transnet with their road to rail strategy, which we truly believe can shift the industry too.
EmptyTrips was in the top 5 for the Global Impact Challenge from Singularity in May, as well as, being in the top 12 for the Seedstars Africa competition held on 26 May 2017 at Standard Bank. We are receiving great client feedback, market acceptance with a strong growing team. With regards to traction, customer sign-ups are on the rise (12-15% week on week), with our first paying customers running smoothly!
Unfortunately, the reality that techies in South Africa face a limited “real Venture Capital” with many looking for stable profits with limited risk. However with the plans of taking EmptyTrips abroad, seeking for funds there doesn’t seem like a bad idea. As such, Benji also recently travelled to Dubai in an effort to secure growth capital to support the business growth and further technology enhancement. She will be returning in June for next round of engagement with potential investor based out of Kuwait.
The EmptyTrips team has been hard at work signing up transporters and has received great feedback. Our Business Development Consultant, Justine Letard quoted one of the transporters "This is brilliant solution, why has no one thought of it before?"
DID YOU KNOW?
- South Africa’s rail network is the 11th largest in the world, with a total track distance of 30 400km.
- Lack of trust, access and past reputational damage has left rail losing market share to road. Under-utilisation of South Africa’s rail network has resulted in a significant loss of market share to road, with rail only carrying 11% of the market share while road carriers 89%.
- Large volumes of rail-friendly goods are transported on road by trucks, when on average, trains are 4 x more fuel efficient than trucks.