The Gokada Experiment

The Gokada Experiment

I gave the evening oratory during their 1st year anniversary.  Gokada was “1” and was doing just fine. It was a great evening as emerging leaders in our startup scene came over to party. There was a drawing on the wall in the Ilupeju office: The Future is Green. Gokada had envisaged a future beyond bikes to boats, airlines, and more. I took photos and rode a bike: gentlemen and ladies, start your engines, and fix this transport friction.

But today, with most Gokada staff sacked and investors possibly to see about $6 million vapored (sure, Gokada has started a pivot), how would global investors look at that your pitch deck from Nigeria? Lagos state governor on The Platform last October promised never to do what he just did (see video below)!

With ban, the riders are home and their bikes parked!

Sure, new data can change policies. And that is the burden: Nigeria makes guessworks disguised as policies! If you use a certain size of bike for passenger commercial transport in Lagos, you should be (legally) fine. The regulation that makes it so has not been (publicly) updated (of course, a press conference did).

Unfortunately, that regulation was a product of a guesswork, with no data driving the decision making. It happens daily in our nation, feeding the pendulic somersault on policy revisions and reversals. If you cannot create your future, do not expect to predict it. And when policies become guessworks, investors, entrepreneurs, citizens, and workers pay the prices.

There is a big rumour (it is confirmed now) around Lagos that Gokada has sacked most of its staff . That is expected since with the commercial motorbike passenger ban, business will possibly stall. What is amazing is that Gokada is pivoting to logistics: they have an opportunity there. The only negative now is that the shippers (factories, ecommerce firms, etc) would own the market, as supply of logistics services will be huge; I expect OPay and Max to pivot to the same. With that excessive capacity, logistics will not save these three bike-hailing leaders as they have to cut costs to win businesses since the shippers are not growing that much.

“While much of your report is accurate,” the tweet reads, “we still have money in the bank and are pivoting towards deliveries while this transport ban gets sorted. We were due to make a profit in January before the ban was announced.” Fahim Saleh, Gokada CEO via Twitter

But you can also watch Lagos state governor promising not to do what he just did!

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One thought on “The Gokada Experiment

  1. The fair-weather politicians come around, say a lot of ambiguous things they don’t even understand, dismantle policies; and at the end of the day, they get a pass. There’s a never a serious consequence for certain misdeeds, so it’s convenient for those who do not understand what investment is and the role of perception, to ‘hail’ the action.

    A ‘MegaCity’ that accommodates the agberos but doesn’t have room for bikes and tricycles? This must rank as one of the weirdest things seen in a long time! The more some people in the ruling class try to show how exposed and enlightened they are, the more they give themselves away as empty heads and purposeless rulers; they never disappoint on the latter.

    It’s obvious that we must commit to training those who assume leadership positions, for them to know what discipline, consistency, and honouring contracts mean. When you try to solve one problem and create another five in the process, without really addressing the very one that started the degeneration, you cannot claim to be making progress.

    The investors and entrepreneurs will always take the hit, while the mindless politicians continue to do as they like. This is how we will build companies that last beyond 40 years? What a people!

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