In busy and gridlocked cities like Lagos, Nigeria, drivers are often in high demand. Older citizens with less energy to drive for hours in traffic and corporate executives, who have to get through a ton of work even while in transit, frequently employ the services of a driver.
But many, owing to several tragic testimonies, haven’t quite enjoyed such services. Some have seen their cars wrecked by drivers while others noticed a pattern of poor understanding of traffic signs.
This was not always the fault of the drivers — as Mr. Daniel Audu got to find out during a period when his parents engaged and fired a number of drivers some years back—they just were not trained to be professionals at their job. Since then he had been on a mission to address this issue.
Mr Audu is now the CEO of DriversNG, a Lagos-based services and solutions company that offers professionally trained drivers for hire.
In this exclusive interview, he furthers shares on the tough times his parents had with drivers and how that inspired him to launch DriversNG.
The journey that led to the idea of DriversNG
DriversNG started from a personal experience, where my parents had issues with drivers who exhibited unprofessionalism and irresponsibility which led to frequent changes of drivers from time to time. This in itself became a challenge and thought to myself that it needed to be fixed and the only possibility to fix this problem is to properly train and re-orientate these drivers to be professional in their dealings when employed.
It became an idea worth pursuing
It became an idea worth pushing for when we conducted research on few people that used drivers and needed drivers and we discovered that most drivers don’t professionally perform their duties when employed.
From idea into a functioning business
It took us a period of 6 months to discover what works, what risk to take and what risk not to take. We learnt how to be resilient, tough and managers of people. As we had to tell and remind ourselves over and over again that we are in a very delicate service space where details is very important.
The first year of business
We are still cruising in our first year of business. This has been a tough time for us and using limited resources to do a lot means that the best is yet to come for us.
A typical day at DriversNG
At DriversNG every day is like Monday. There is always a sense of rush and demand to meet up with.
Ensuring driver expertise
As a Team we are looking beyond just testing and professionally training drivers, but also providing adequate knowledge base for drivers to be properly equipped with etiquette skills, customer service skills, and presentation skills.
Enormous demand for properly trained drivers for private hire
Women make more use of our services. So it is easy to say, that many of our served customers refer or talk about our offer/service to their husbands or to other women either who will give approval or need the service respectively.
Most Nigerian start-ups claim the local environment can sometimes be unfriendly to growth. Do you agree with this assertion?
This is not exactly true, this is because in most cases it depends on the exposure of the individual or team running such start-up. As a team or individual that is well exposed in terms of knowledge of similar business in advanced countries, right belief system and understanding of people’s need within the local environment this automatically creates a chance to use the local environment to one’s advantage.
From your experience building and managing DriversNG, which would you say are the greatest challenges Nigerian startups face?
Nigerian start-up faces issues of funding, strategy, market knowledge and execution.
How do you think startups can work their way around these problems?
Nigerian Startups need to make their brands attractive and take their businesses seriously in order for family, friends and investors also to take them serious. A lot of questions should be asked from mentors or those that have experience in areas of need. Entrepreneurs also need to take out time to understand whether people need what they are trying to push out and lots of planning should be put in place for perfect execution of the business.
If you had to pick a Nigerian State (apart from Lagos) to set up camp, which would it be and why?
It will be Abuja. Because it’s where most of the headquarters of companies in the federation are located.