Nollywood actor, James Ikechukwu Esomugha, is having a go at Nigeria’s on-demand taxi service market. Jim Iyke, as he’s more popularly known, says he’s launching a new ride-hailing company, Mr Taxi, to offer chauffeur services to customers in the country.
In an Instagram post from earlier in the week, Jim Iyke revealed that the taxi service would commence operations in the South East, with Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo as pioneer states for its services. He also said that an expansion into the South-South would follow at a later period.
The actor indicated that Mr Taxi was starting off with “17 luxurious sedans and over 54 registered (cars) from other drivers”. He said that the vehicles would be offering riders “a far more comfortable, safer travel experience.” He invited his audience to access the service by downloading the Mr Taxi app, which is already available on Google Play.
Jim Iyke’s Instagram post says Mr Taxi will be officially launched in Awka, Anambra State, on the 5th of October, in an event that should feature major figures in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. Popular comedian Basketmouth and musician Timaya were mentioned as celebrities expected to be at the occasion.
While the towns and cities to be served by Mr Taxi haven’t been publicly disclosed, it seems that Mr Iyke’s move targets a region that’s been largely ignored by the bigger ride-hailing companies. At the moment, Uber and Taxify appear content with wrestling it out for the markets in so-called first-tier cities (such as Lagos and Abuja). Mr Taxi could avoid getting into a tough battle with them by choosing to explore the urban South East, where there’s a growing trend-following, tech-savvy population.
The strategy for Mr Taxi could be to carve out a niche in a presently quiet space, then expand into other areas when it’s had a firm grip on the region. Mr. Iyke will be hoping that the market is receptive enough to more than pay back the investment he’s made in it.
Jim Iyke’s foray into the chauffeur service business is only the latest in a series of entrepreneurial pursuits. Earlier this year, he launched an app, ‘Oga Work’, which lets its users hire artisans remotely. Back in 2015, he unveiled his bottle water brand, ‘Burgeon Water’.
Mr Iyke’s acting career has spanned 17 years, a period in which he’s won a number of awards. He’s almost certainly hoping to replicate his success with Nollywood in the world of entrepreneurship- a move which isn’t uncommon in these parts.