South African Entrepreneur, Rivoningo Mhlari, who is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rikatec (Pty) Limited is creating information management system for vehicles which provides real-time predictive maintenance for fleets, monitors driving habits, wear and tear and break detection and diagnosis.
Rikatec uses large data and machine learning mechanisms to detect vehicle breakdowns, provide information on vehicle wear and tear, and creates driver profiles as well as ratings for insurance companies and financiers.
27-year-old Mhlari has a background in Finance and Accounting from the University of Cape Town. He also has experience in management consulting from McKinsey & Company and formerly Managing Director of RIHM Marketing Consultancy & Events. Rivoningo is also part of the Phambili Mzansi NPO team.
According to Mhlari, he was inspired in 2013, by the new information age and come up with the device with the intention of introducing a totally new phenomenon to the motor car industry.
“Rikatec is fitted to all makes of cars; it can detect faults in vehicles. And once a fault is detected, a signal is sent through indicating which part of the vehicle is faulty,” explains Mhlari.
“It is a measure to prevent unnecessary breakdowns, by analyzing the possible causes of the fault. All this is transmitted by Rikatec, which uses remote diagnostics performed on the vehicle every second. It is suitable for cars manufactured after 1996.
“It sends the data to the back end systems for advanced analysis. It can also link the vehicle owner to the nearest registered help option within an 8km-10km radius of the fault. This is meant to minimise risky driving habits and break downs.”
Mhlari says most of their clients are fleet vehicle owners and they are also making inroads in the taxi industry to assist both drivers and taxi owners to transport passengers without experiencing unforeseen breakdowns.
Rikatec holds a number of patents. It is approved by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), according to Mhlari.
“It wasn’t an easy road. We had to do research after research and more research. One prototype after the other was tested. Testing was done even out there in the field. Icasa didn’t spare us; they did a lot of tests as well,” Mhlari recalls.
“We have offices in Cape Town and Joburg but our footprint is national,” he says. “Our installers include PG Glass, among others. The device is 100% manufactured in South Africa.”
Mhlari says motorists with the device benefit by receiving rebates from insurers and low-risk drivers get cash back. “It’s all about accountability and becoming informed about the car you drive. It’s all about being proactive.”
The most important aspect of the device, says Mhlari, is that it “improves prediction of vehicles’ longevity, assists in determining insurance and warranty premiums, thus helping in enhancing the resale value of the car”.
Clients buy the units and pay a monthly subscription for the monitoring service. The company provides employment to 37 people directly and indirectly in Joburg and Cape Town.
Mhlari is a master of perseverance. When he first created an information management system using big data and artificial intelligence to solve problems for vehicles such as predicting and detecting vehicle breakdowns, he was rejected 11 times by the manufacturers and insurance companies he approached. The rejections were his greatest motivation.
“I realized we were rejected not because what we were doing was not novel or attractive; we were rejected because they thought what Rikatec wanted to do was impossible. We were simply ahead of our time,” says Mhlari.
He founded a marketing consultancy, where he hosted events and advised small business on strategy; made money and funded the development of Rikatec prototypes.
He also made a noise about the difficulties of support and funding for tech startups. It earned him a R500,000 ($40,000) investment to commercially test the product in exchange for 5% equity in the business.
Mhlari implores funders like the National Empowerment Fund to provide those entrepreneurs playing in the tech and fourth industrial revolution space with financial assistance.
Today, Rikatec simultaneously provides a connection to the nearest help option within five minutes of breakdown detection. The company also provides predictive maintenance for fleets, monitors driving habits, wear and tear and uses big data and analytics to provide valuable information that can help reduce operational costs.
Following the success of Rikatec, Rivoningo was listed in the Forbes Africa’s 30 Under 30, a list of 30 young entrepreneurs within the technology and digitization sphere that have proven to have innovative businesses that shape their societies, in June 2018.
Rivoningo was then listed as one of the 10 Young African Technology Entrepreneurs to look out for in July 2018 and as one of the 200 Young South Africans (Business and Entrepreneurship) in the Mail and Guardian published on 29 June 2018.