A dentist with the vehicle sharing business


Nowadays it is possible to run several businesses and one of them can be a vehicle sharing service. Amir Timo Marouf (in the picture on the left) is living proof of this. He is a dentist and runs the mobility company tretty in Münster, Germany.

Launch date: Spring of 2020
Country: Germany, Münster
Fleet: muscle-powered kick-scooters and bikes
Web page: https://www.tretty.de
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tretty
App Store: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/tretty/id1509734922
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.tretty.app

Amir Timo Marouf founded the mobility company tretty together with Max Weldert. “It all started in school when we knew that one day we would do something together. What exactly was not yet clear back then,” Amir tells the story of how the company started. He says that he always had a passion for sharing, so he considered starting something around it. Max always has been and still is into mobility with the focus on muscle-powered vehicles. “So directly after my exam in dentistry, we took a trip with two lying bikes from Münster to Lisbon. We covered a distance of 2600 kilometers. During this time we more or less developed the whole idea around tretty, because we had a lot of time to think,” Amir remembers.

Motivation and passion

After getting back, Amir and Max set up a team. They found an accountant who took care of all the finances and an engineer. “When our engineer heard of the idea, he was fascinated. And we decided that in the beginning, we won't work for money. It was only motivation and passion that drove us further,” says Amir.

However, it was still not clear what vehicle should be used and whether people living in Münster want to have this service at all... “So we just started a crowdfunding campaign and set a very high target of EUR 50 000. This would be enough to buy 100 scooters. And we succeeded! And we even got 20% more financing,” Amir recalls.

In the crowdfunding announcement, the founders wrote that they will develop their own scooters. As they now had the money, there was pressure on them to do it. And it was only then that Max and Amir realized how big the project would actually be... But they did it!

Struggle with IT

The tretty engineer made a drawing on the basis of which the scooter is built from the scratch by tretty. The team found a manufacturer in the Czech Republic and did a lot just by doing. “In the beginning, I built a website using WordPress. You can learn everything nowadays from videos on the internet if you're motivated. Afterwards, we were very lucky to have two students on the team. They were both at university doing their Master's and they had both experiences in IT. They managed to build a website for the maintenance team,” says Amir.

Next step – the tretty team started to develop its own app. “We realized the importance of the time and also the fact that our business is not building IT solutions. We started to compare existing app developers, who offer white-label solutions. We compared all the big ones. But as we wanted to keep everything local, we hired a company that is focusing on car sharing without any experience in free- floating. It took a long time to register in the app and type in all the information required…” recalls Amir.

So at some point, tretty team decided to change the software provided and chose ATOM. Now with a new app, they are getting a significant amount of new users as the registration is a lot faster. That was one of the main reasons why they switched initially. “I'm also happy that ATOM is always open to optimizations and is ready to talk about alternatives,” says Amir.

Private and business clients, locals, and tourists

Users of the service are people living in Münster and around, including tourists. There are a lot of students in the city - around 60 000 of all the 314 000 people living there. And students are among the most active scooter users. The weather has a big impact - if it is appropriate for riding, the number of daily users increases.

tretty also has one private fleet in Münster, which is owned by a big insurance company. Right now, tretty is also currently discussing possible collaborations with other B2B partners. “There are two options available. We can set up the software for the partner and provide it with vehicles. Then they could use tretty brand and have a franchise. Or they can create their own brand,” explains Amir.

What's next?

The team of tretty is considering different scenarios for expansion. However, Amir says that they still have some homework to do: “The focus is currently on Münster. As soon as we have validated we will consider expansion.”

And what is the plan for Amir? Let's not forget that he is also working as a dentist. “I think one of the main reasons why you can do more than one thing is the enormous speed of digitalization of everything. With a smartphone, you can answer emails from everywhere and even design things and build websites. I think this would not have been possible 10 years ago. It is, of course, tough to multi-task. Mondays are my tretty days. Before and after work as well as at weekends I do tretty. Then I try to schedule my time for my girlfriend and for myself. I'd say that a month or two ago it was really tough but now it’s starting to get better. I think the main reason why it works is that it comes from passion and not from pressure.”

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Case study
ATOM Mobility drives Wheelz into new horizons
ATOM Mobility drives Wheelz into new horizons

Car-sharing company based in Ghana.

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“Upon our initial interaction with ATOM Mobility, we were immediately drawn to their interface and impressed by the quality of their customer service. Throughout the process, they exhibited great flexibility in their approach and were able to assist us with any difficulties we encountered.” 

– Deroy De Bordes, founder of Wheelz

Launch date: October 2021
Country: Ghana
Web page: https://wheelzgh.com
App Store: https://apps.apple.com/lt/app/id1590136064
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=wheelzgh.app

Wheelz was founded by Deroy De Bordes – an entrepreneur with a diverse background in business, including experience in HR and property development. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, he realized the potential of expanding into emerging markets while residing in the UK. During a trip back to Ghana, he recognized a potential market opportunity for a car-sharing service company.

During that time, traditional taxi services and a laborious car rental process that required your physical presence were the main options for customers in the country. The founder saw the opportunity to fulfill an unmet demand through the creation of a car-sharing service – which led to the launch of Wheelz.

In preparation for the launch, they evaluated multiple software providers and eventually went with ATOM Mobility. According to Deroy, they chose ATOM Mobility because of its superior customer service and user-friendly interface. Its integration with Geotab's fleet management platform was also a significant factor.

Overcoming implementation hurdles

In the process of starting their business, Wheelz faced numerous challenges that required careful consideration and planning. 

The company's journey began in the early 2020s when they traveled to Ghana to investigate the local market, identify any potential risks, and gain a thorough understanding of the relevant local laws and regulations.

As a company that heavily relies on connectivity, Wheelz had to address the associated risks of providing convenient and accessible services to its customers.

One significant challenge Wheelz faced was the unique characteristics of road infrastructure in Ghana compared to Europe. This situation necessitated the establishment of safe roadside parking zones, especially as many houses in the target market have gated compounds. To prevent any potential disagreements with other customers and ensure safety, Wheelz had to remind people not to park within these compounds. 

Additionally, people may park on backstreets or narrow roads, potentially causing damage or injury to the vehicle. Therefore, Wheelz took extra caution in selecting parking zones and worked closely with their team to identify suitable locations within 10 to 15 minutes of each other. This effort aimed to ensure customers' easy access to their services.

Disrupting traditional services

Introducing a new product to the market posed a significant challenge for Wheelz, as it was unlike the traditional car hire services that customers were accustomed to.

“Our concept was new in a way that it depended solely on smartphones as the main way of accessing our service. The first thing we had to do was test the technology thoroughly to ensure its stability and security before it could be deployed in the field. Then, we needed to familiarize potential customers with the app's functionality.” – Deroy De Bordes

For marketing purposes, the company used a multi-phase approach. The first phase focused on creating brand awareness through billboards, radio, and television ads. The second phase involved marketing campaigns on various platforms, including YouTube, Google, Instagram, Facebook, and banner ads. This generated a significant amount of interest in the product.

Wheelz's pricing strategy was significantly more competitive than traditional taxi services. For instance, a one-hour journey in their most affordable vehicle costs 60 Ghanaian cedi, while a half-hour ride in a traditional taxi would cost around 50 to 60 Ghanaian cedi. This pricing strategy proved to be an attractive offer, as customers sought value for their money.

"Essentially, customers who choose Wheelz can get twice the travel time for their money," Deroy explains. 

By introducing this new product and pricing strategy, Wheelz established itself as a disruptor in the market. Now, as the company continues to grow and expand its services, they remain committed to providing excellent customer service and safe, reliable transportation to its clients.

“Though we faced early obstacles, we persevered. Today, our innovative approach to car hire services has earned us a favorable standing in the market.” – Deroy De Bordes

Moving forward: plans for ongoing improvements and expansion

The success of Wheelz thus far has not led to complacency, and the company has no intention of resting on its laurels. In May 2023, they have plans to participate in a trade show in Ghana – this will allow the company to promote its brand and explore the possibility of expanding into new markets across Africa. They are also considering a franchise model to facilitate their expansion efforts.

Wheelz also plans to expand to other cities in Ghana, including Kumasi, Tamale, Takoradi, and Cape Coast. Each of these cities will have a minimum of 10 cars assigned to them. But in the nearest future, the plan is to explore opportunities to increase the number of parking zones across the capital city, Accra.

Case study
How Vift grew their taxi business through digitising with ATOM Mobility
How Vift grew their taxi business through digitising with ATOM Mobility

“Using ATOM Mobility's platform, we were able to open up our taxi business to an entirely different target market  – younger people. We've been able to offer a more simplified booking process to continue offering quality service to our customers, which is our guiding principle.” - Jamal, Founder and CEO of Vift

Read post

“Using ATOM Mobility's platform, we were able to open up our taxi business to an entirely different target market  – younger people. We've been able to offer a more simplified booking process to continue offering quality service to our customers, which is our guiding principle.” - Jamal, Founder and CEO of Vift

Experience in the taxi business: 6 years
Country: Sweden
Web page: https://viftmobility.com
App store: https://apps.apple.com/vn/app/vift/id1631027113
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=vift.app

As engineering students in the Swedish city of Örebro, just west of Stockholm, the Zindi brothers saw market demand and decided to launch their own taxi company. Starting six years ago, the business has grown to account for 8% of the local taxi market, attracting a higher-end clientele. 

One year ago, founder and CEO Jamal Zindi was looking for opportunities to further grow his business. At the time, Vift operated as a classical taxi company – based on receiving phone calls and dispatching drivers. By using the ATOM Mobility platform, he was able to launch his own dedicated mobile app, which clients could use to directly order and pay for their taxis. 

The effect of digitising his business was immediate – Jamal shares that they have received a considerable boost to business, as it opens the door to a new target audience. He shares that human behaviour regarding booking has changed. Many young people don't like picking up the phone to make a taxi booking, or people sitting in meetings aren't able to make a call. Having an app to offer makes all the difference.

Quality as a North Star

Jamal shares that throughout all of his journey as an entrepreneur, his guiding principle has always been to offer the best possible quality to clients. 

“In the services sector, it's not about who offers it cheaper, it's who serves their clients better. We offer better cars, better drivers, better customer experience. If you do it better, people will be willing to pay a premium,” explains Jamal.

In the early days, Vift's differentiating factor was an improved experience. They, and their drivers, were from an academic background. They were younger than most taxi drivers in Örebro at the time, which Jamal considered an advantage. They were able to bring an improved customer experience to their clients, which was appreciated. 

They aren't in a hurry to expand in size or geography. Jamal emphasises that they're looking to build a solid foundation and only then expand upon that.

“We don't want to start with too many cars. Our strategy is to build up the business in stages. Because if the foundation is strong, you will not fall. Once you have a system in place, it's easier to go to other cities.”

Vift has its own fleet of cars, and, using the ATOM Mobility platform, it can now onboard other drivers onto its platform. Though they're not in a hurry – they're establishing quality first and then will look beyond their borders.

Locally-owned as a key differentiator

The city of Örebro does not lack in its fair share of taxi sharing apps. They have Bolt, Uber, and others. But what Vift can offer and Uber can't, is hyper-local customer service – both for drivers and for end-customers.

“There are Bolt and Uber, they drive very cheaply. But the management and owners are not in Sweden. So if you have a question, you won't receive a response that fully understands your situation. People appreciate that we're from Sweden, that they can contact us, and that they can receive a response in their own language,” comments Jamal.

Using their competitive advantage, they believe that in just 2 years, they will be the biggest company in Örebro. And after that, they'll replicate their experience in other cities, still based on quality-over-quantity.

The secret to surviving in the taxi business – thinking 10 years ahead

One thing that sets Vift apart from traditional taxi services is their future-oriented mindset. Jamal shares that when making business decisions, he thinks about what will be relevant in 5-10 years' time. This way, he's able to stay ahead of the competition, and relevant to his customers.

One way this comes across is in the vehicles they choose. 

“Right now, all of our cars are hybrid. But very soon we'll be switching to a fully electric vehicle fleet. It's the better choice – for business, for the environment. That is where mobility is heading, and that's where we have to be as well.”

When asked about his tips for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own taxi business, Jamal stays true to his values:

“Constant development. Professional standards. Work with the heart. Quality is what matters. Consider the future – if you only do things for today, then you'll fall down.” 

Through working together, Vift has significantly increased its demand and revenue. Laying the strong foundation for digital services, Vift can now continue to build out the business and reach its goals of dominating the local market and expanding past its borders.

Learn more about ATOM Mobility ride-hailing and taxi platform here: https://ride.atommobility.com

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