If every Lagosian were asked to list five of their least favourite things about Lagos, the majority would mention poor transportation.
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For a long time, Lagos has held the reputation of being one of the states with the worst transportation system. This chaotic system is characterised by old rickety commercial buses, bad road networks, and constant gridlock.
What’s most troubling is the havoc these problems wreak on the lives and properties of commuters. From armed robbery attacks to “One-Chance” experiences and the health risks of sitting in traffic for hours, there’s no end to the problems commuters face.
One woman’s ugly experience with a Lagos commercial bus led her to start a platform that enables commuters to travel along fixed routes in Lagos at 60-80% less than what other ride-hailing services charge. That platform is known as Shuttlers and it is changing the way Lagosians commute.
Along with her friends, Damilola Quadry, Busola Majekodunmi, and Damilola Olokesusi co-founded Shuttlers in 2015.
“One of my sisters got into a one-chance bus (a commercial bus used for robbing passengers), and it was a traumatic experience for me. She was taken to another destination where they were abducted and robbed. Having had our different bus experiences, we realised it was a collective pain point for us. So, we came together to solve it with our complementary skills,”
she told Techpoint Africa.
Shuttlers: An Innovation-Minded Individual’s Creation
Damilola studied Chemical Engineering at the university. While this was a course that suited her due to her strong Maths and Science background, her plans for post-university life were not so different from the average university student’s – graduate from university and get a good job.
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However, she experienced an awakening during a lengthy ASUU strike in 2009 while studying for her bachelors’ degree in Unilag. She was at a seminar and met a young lady who was using tech to start a lot of companies. This caught her attention because it was quite different from the lifestyle she was accustomed to.
“All I knew was that one studied, got a good civil service job, got married, and lived happily ever after,”
As a result, she began to change her trajectory in life and adopted a problem-solving mindset. From hoping to get a job after graduating, Damilola became obsessed with the idea of using tech to solve problems like the woman she met at the seminar.
She directed her focus to start a transportation company after taking a trip to Dubai in 2014 and witnessing the stark difference between the transport system in Dubai and that of Nigeria. She came to the realisation that old Danfos are not the only problem with the Lagos transport system.
People also have issues with safety and cost when it came to using the more palatable option – ride-hailing cabs. She was inspired to start Shuttlers and adopted the staff bus model used at the company she worked.
Achievements And Milestones
Since its launch in 2015, Shuttlers has sold 500 million seats. Although it has not raised any external VC funding except grants, the startup has succeeded in sustaining itself.
“At the end of the day, I’m grateful that they didn’t give us money then because it allowed us to think of creative ways to be a sustainable business. There was no allowance to burn cash or chase growth over profit. We had to choose profitability from the get-go, and we’ve been able to turn ₦1 to ₦1 million,”
she told Techpoint.
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