If you are a commuter in Lagos, Nigeria, you would realise there is a pool of transportation network companies (or if you prefer, cab service/ridesharing service) to select from. One that sets the pace however, is Taxify.
Taxify is an Estonian based transportation network company headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. Founded by Markus Villig in 2013 while he was just 19 years of age, the company made its way to Africa in 2016 and was officially launched in Lagos, Nigeria on November 18, 2016. In that short space of time, Taxify’s CEO, Villig has grown the company to be the first transportation app in the world which allows customers to pay for their trip via mobile carrier billing. Currently available in 22 cities across 17 countries, worldwide, Taxify is the #2 travel app (App Annie) behind Uber in three biggest SSA economies: South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
In this interview with The Spark, this enterprising young entrepreneur shares his perspective on success, his motivation and plans for the future
As an individual, what is your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement has been founding Taxify and getting the award for Best Young Entrepreneur of Estonia last year.
You founded Taxify at the age of 19. Kindly share with us what “ignited” your passion at such an early age?
I have been passionate about improving the world as long as I can remember. I realised that the best way to do it is to start a technology company so I was trying out different ideas since I was 16.
What sets Taxify apart from your competitors?
We are offering the best prices to customers while treating the drivers better than any other platform. We can do this by being very lean on marketing and instead giving the money to drivers, so they treat our customers better.
Where do you envision the brand to be in the next 5 years?
Ride hailing is only 2% of urban transport in most cities around the world today. Taxify is one of the leaders in making private drivers more affordable and convenient, so in 5 years we would be a strong alternative to public transport & personal cars.
How important has mentorship been in your rise to success?
Mentors have been helpful with knowledge on specific topics like fundraising, but the most important trait of entrepreneurs is to be resourceful so you find channels to learn or connect with needed people even without anybody helping you.
What challenges have you encountered in the course of sailing through the challenging course of entrepreneurship?
Every business has its good and bad days. Even if things are not working out for months, you just have to stay motivated and keep trying new things until you succeed.
With the tough demands from running an international transportation network company, do you have time for fun, family and friends?
For the first 3 years I did not have a single day when I didn’t work for at least 4 hours. As I have realised that we are in this for the long term, I have reduced working time on weekends so I have time to relax and be more productive as the years go by.
We know that Taxify is all about driving entrepreneurship. In one sentence, what does a young aspiring entrepreneur need to succeed just as you have
Everybody has ideas, but most people never start. Out of the people who start, many give up after 2 or 3 attempts. The ones that make it have the motivation to just keep going and try new ideas until eventually it works.
Lagos, Nigeria has been a productive market for your company. What will you be willing to give back to the Nigerian Youth as The Spark – an incentive to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs in his / her own pursuit of success?
Every person wants to have more time and save money. Especially if you’re a starting entrepreneur you are short on both.
We are offering the Rookie of the Month free rides worth 30 thousand naira, so you can make your next meetings with less stress.