Shared transportation in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by population, is a thriving business, at least when done the conventional way: offline.
With millions of Nigerians using danfo minibuses and okadas to commute to their various workplaces and destinations, mobility startups have sought to digitize the market. However, most have found little luck, especially those in the two-wheeler mobility space.
While most mobility tech in the country is centred around two-wheelers and car-hailing, there’s been hardly any deliberate disruption in the bus-sharing and mass transit space.
Shuttlers, a “tech-enabled scheduled bus sharing” company, is itching to change that. After years of bootstrapping, the company has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from several investors to blitz scale within and outside Nigeria.
Chicago and Africa-focused investment firm VestedWorld led the round. Fintech unicorn Interswitch, Africa-focused VCs Rising Tide Africa, Launch Africa, EchoVC, Consonance Investment, CcHub Syndicate, CMC 21 & Alsa, ShEquity, Five35, Sakore and Nikky Taurus also participated in the round.
CEO Damilola Olokesusi founded Shuttlers in 2016 to address the issue of inefficient transportation costs in Nigeria’s most renowned urban city, Lagos. Via its ridesharing platform, Shuttlers provides companies with better mobility options for their employees.
But when Shuttlers launched in 2017, it did not have a functional mobile application. Instead, the company ran an unconventional online model using Slack, email and WhatsApp to communicate with its customers.
Yet, that was enough to onboard its first set of business clients. Tech talent unicorn Andela was Shuttlers’ first B2B2C client, Olokesusi told TechCrunch over a call.
The B2B2C plan is one of three main offerings Shuttlers providers; here, companies split payment of transport fares with their employees whichever way they see fit. The others include B2B, where business clients pay the complete fares of their employees and B2C, where individual customers pay fares themselves.
“Our mission is to transform the way people commute around the world by building a global partner network and connecting communities of shuttlers like we are presently doing in Lagos, Nigeria,” Olokesusi said in a statement.