Onyeka Akumah, has revolutionize the mass transportation sector in Nigeria and West Africa.He has developed a bus-hailing app called Treepz formerly called Plentywaka that functions like Uber to connect commuters to mass transportation buses in Nigeria.
He got the idea to develop an Uber for buses when he boarded a bus in Lagos and got a panic attack.
“I had this strange encounter in January 2019, I had to get to a meeting and leave my car and take two bikes and I got on a bus and I had a panic attack. I could see all the metals sticking out of the chairs in the bus. I held on to the rails in the bus and the driver was sweating so profusely it was crazy,” He said.
He added “I hadn’t entered a bus in 15 years and I couldn’t imagine that people had to go to work on a daily basis with this form of transportation in this state. They are overworked and with about 70,000 buses in Lagos, it just didn’t make sense that people moved that way,”
After conducting some market survey, he linked up with his partners and launched the uber-for-buses model connecting commuters with buses via an app.
According to Akumah, they launched the Uber for buses with 18 buses and only six passengers. He said when he started, many people did not understand what he was doing.
Within six months, they got to a point where they had moved about 100,000 people and were excited about it and then Covid hit and everyone had to go home and we were just staring at our buses and had no revenue coming in,” he recalled.
Funding was challenging for Akumah and when the pandemic hit Nigeria, he converted his buses into food delivery buses because they were the only items allowed to move about during lockdown.
“As soon as the lockdown was eased, we got back on to the road where we could also move at about 60% capacity so we went out to then raise funding. We raised $300,000 to sustain us to get us to grow and towards the end of the year, we went through a series of due diligence processes and by the first quarter of 2021, we were selected to join the Techstars [accelerator] in Toronto where we raised another $1.2 million,” said Akumah.
Treepz recently acquired one of Ghana’s leading mobility startups expanding its operations to Ghana.