[Startup Interview] George Karimi, Founder and CEO, SwiftAide, Kenya
George Karimi is the Founder and CEO of SwiftAide, a Kenyan mobile marketplace startup that matches freelance labour with local demand, allowing consumers to find immediate help with everyday tasks, including cleaning, moving, delivery and handyman work.
Would you please introduce your company?
SwiftAide is a two-sided marketplace that connects ‘Clients,’ people who need help, with ‘Aides,’ a network of pre-approved and background checked individuals, who have the time and skills needed to complete listed tasks.
It has several categories of aides from messengers, carpenters, food deliveries, drink deliveries, cooking gas deliveries, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and nannies. We were basically tapping in to the opportunities that exists in the informal sector bearing in mind it controls like 70 per cent of the job market in Kenya.
What would you say gives your company a competitive edge?
SwiftAide relies on three key pillars that make it the preferred option for outsourcing tasks namely: Security; All aides have to upload their identification documents and are thoroughly vetted by our team. This deters anyone from using the app for illegal activities. Professionalism: Since the aides upload the necessary documents (i.e. certificates, licenses, insurance etc.) depending on the service they provide, the client is guaranteed that the person is qualified to perform the intended task. And lastly Freedom; the client is free to bargain with the aide and negotiate the best price for the job.
Who are your clients?
Most of the Aides who sign up are normally the young unemployed professionals and stay at home mums since SwiftAide enables you to build a business out of the platform by becoming an agent who have people under them who provide the services on their behalf as in clients request you the service and you send your workers to provide the service then get paid for the job.
The clients are mostly young professionals who have more money than time to outsource their daily chores.
What are the ambitions of the company going forward?
We are planning to be fully entrenched in most major towns in the country in the next one year and expanding to the East African market in the next 5 years.
How has the market responded to your products/services? Why do you think that is so?
The uptake has been quite good as we are getting people signing up from as far as Homabay and Mandera. Kenyans are quite fast in embracing technology and seizing opportunities.
How is the competition in the mobile market sector? How are you insulating yourselves from the competition?
We have insulated ourselves from the competition by simply trying to be different from all apps which have features that replicate themselves. We have given the aide the option of determining their charges and not having a fixed price for the services offered.
The app considers people who can’t afford smartphones by having them registered under agents hence taking care of both the digital and “analogue” phone users.
What was the idea behind building the Swiftaide mobile app?
It was on a Sunday in May 2017, all my laundry was dirty and my house was in a dire state. I could not get hold of anybody to do for me the cleaning. My usual cleaning lady was sick and this dashed all my hopes of getting any cleaning done that week since Sunday was my only day off.
Because I had faced similar challenges a couple of times, I teamed up with my wife Winnie to establish SwiftAide. We were like “wouldn’t it be great if someone would go to their phone and request for a cleaner just the way we request for cabs?” That’s where the idea was born.
What is the Monetization strategy for the app users?
We have a referral system whereby clients can get a bonus sent to their wallet for free just by downloading the app via a link sent to them by friends.A user who refers an aide gets a token automatically sent to his wallet.
After completion of every service offered, the client is required to rate the service provider and highly rated service providers are likely to get more requests hence a motivating strategy for the service providers to give their best.
What is the latest news from your company?
The app will soon be available in different languages hence very user-friendly to all age groups and communities.
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