NipeLift: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Shagz
NipeLift is a new Kenyan app looking to disrupt the public transport industry with a simple idea; carpooling. The app created by Boniface Githinji offers an uber cool way to carpool without any hitches. We caught up with Boniface, who now serves as the company CEO, to get deets on this brilliantly simple idea making waves. No sleigh? No problem. We also get tips on how to travel on a budget this Christmas.
KENYABUZZ: NipeLift. What’s it all about?
BONIFACE: NipeLift is an online marketplace that connects drivers who have empty seats with passengers looking for better, cheaper and safer rides. Say you are travelling to Nakuru alone in your car, you may use the app to connect with passengers headed to the same destination. The passenger pays an earlier agreed on price that serves as the driver’s compensation.
KENYABUZZ: So, it is the carpooling Uber?
BONIFACE: Drivers on NipeLift do not make profits; they charge just enough to cover the car operating costs – fuel, wear and tear, servicing among others. This ensures that the car is not being used for gain which exempts it from PSV categorization. The motivation to carpool is not just for recouping costs but also environment conservation, traffic decongestion and cultivating harmony and coexistence among people.
NipeLift isn’t only for long distance carpooling though. It can also be used for your commute to and from work, getting a lift to popular and fun events around town, or to the mall.
KENYABUZZ: How did the app come through for stranded passengers during the recent matatu strike?
BONIFACE: We did pretty well that week. Not only did we get people offering and booking more lifts on the app but also had a perfect opportunity to create awareness about our services. There was a lot of buzz online. We went viral and got over 200,000 impressions in a few hours. That still ranks high among our best weeks.
KENYABUZZ: How is NipeLift different from other ride-sharing apps?
BONIFACE: Our strongest point has to be safety and security. Whereas most of taxi hailing apps do background checks on drivers only, we also extend the same to all our passengers thus guaranteeing a multifaceted vetting and verification process.
KENYABUZZ: Why should Kenyans get the NipeLift app?
BONIFACE: For passengers NipeLift is the most affordable option available on the market today. All our CBD and its suburbs only cost Ksh 100 per seat. There are no wait time charges, no rush hour price hikes, just pure travelling bliss. As a driver, you get to set your preferences; do you allow smoking, pets, music or eating in car? Would you only want to ride with fellow women or colleagues from work? You only have to set it up once and the app will follow your preferences thereafter. We also require prepayments of lift bookings.
KENYABUZZ: How are prices set?
BONIFACE: Our costs are set using AA Kenya’s mileage compensation rates per kilometer. AA Kenya rates are scientifically computed to address the real costs of operating a car and are used world over by NGOs, corporates and governments to figure out travel allowances for their employees. We ensure that drivers do not make any profit and whatever is charged is only enough to cover actual incurred costs. This avoids a lot of regulatory issues with insurance and authorities.
KENYABUZZ: Travelling to shagz for Christmas is a quintessential Kenyan tradition. It’s not cheap and often chaotic. Can NipeLift be the solution we’ve been waiting for?
BONIFACE: Yes, Christmas is big here in Kenya. In fact, the traveling craze starts way earlier from Jamhuri Day onwards. We can guarantee Kenyans that this year will be different. You’ll not only have a comfy ride, but one that is safe and secure. And unlike our competitors in the matatu industry, we will not be hiking our prices.
How about a carpool karaoke with Christmas songs inside all NipeLift vehicles this holiday? James Corden Style. Yay or nay?
BONIFACE: Definitely, a great idea! I am a big James Corden fan. My favourite Carpool Karaoke of all time was one he did with Michelle Obama and Missy Elliot. First, because I’m a big hip hop head, and secondly because Missy was my high school crush. She still is. My wife is gonna kill me for saying this. Sorry Monica. [Laughs]
Is NipeLift here to stay or is it a flavour of the season type of app?
BONIFACE: This is no fad; we’re in it, to win it. Public transportation in this country is ripe for disruption and I’m convinced NipeLift will etch its name in the books of history as the one company that changed public transportation in Africa for good.
We’re cognizant of the many challenges that lay ahead but they are challenges we are prepared and determined to overcome. Whereas NipeLift is a new idea, my team and I aren’t new to business. We’ve been quite successful with our other company, Sematime, an edtech company which allows schools to communicate with over 1 million parents on our platform.
Download the NipeLift app on Google Play Store. Follow them on social media: @NipeLift