Eric Gisore tells us how Komboa provides an affordable, convenient, and reliable alternative to private car ownership that enhances the environment.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Eric Gisore: Well, to start with, I personally am grateful to be alive today, having tested positive for COVID-19 last year and recovered. I was self-medicating at home since I had a mild infection. My family today is also okay, and we keep on making sure we follow all the MoH and WHO guidelines to prevent infection in our household.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Komboa.
Eric Gisore: I am a horticulturist by profession, but I found myself in the technology world out of passion. Everything I have learned and currently applying in my work I learned by following online tutorials. I founded Komboa by combining 2 factors:
1. Love for the sharing economy where you can have access to, and use something without necessarily having to buy or own it
2. I saw an opportunity in the implementation of SDGs, specifically number 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).
So, out of the need to create sustainable cities and communities by sharing one thing that had not, until then, been shared locally – Cars. Car sharing is a new concept in East and Central Africa. Sharing cars reduces the strain on already strained road infrastructure, reduces pollution from cars by reducing the number of vehicles on the road at any given time, thus leading to a gradual and sustained creation of resilient and sustainable cities, urban centers, and communities.
How does Komboa innovate?
Eric Gisore: Komboa innovates by using crowdsourcing, communities, and connecting citizens as it makes services like car rental easily accessible cost-effectively. Komboa helps the general public provide for themselves the services that governments and organizations are unable to provide by crowdsourcing.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Eric Gisore: The Pandemic has greatly affected Komboa. First of all, we had to delay the launching of the service when the government announced the start of a nationwide lockdown in 2020, but then we decided to go ahead and launch in June. Then the founder and CEO tested positive in July, and we had to stop all work, and the team was forced to slow down the marketing that we had just started. The biggest impact is on our current running of Komboa. Since we are still bootstrapping to get funds for running Komboa, the hard economic times have affected us since the gigs we depend on are now in low supply, and they pay less. That is why we are keen on securing funding for Komboa.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Eric Gisore: Being in business means quite often you have to make difficult decisions during the running of the business, so yes, as Komboa Team, we have been forced into making such decisions before. Lessons learned; Sometimes, you have to swim into uncharted waters if you want to grow a business, so don’t be afraid of making difficult decisions.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Eric Gisore: Currently, most of our work is done remotely, so we rely on WhatsApp, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to work and coordinate as a team.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Eric Gisore: Currently, our biggest competitors are the traditional car rental companies, and innovation is our only way of beating them and staying in the game.
Your final thoughts?
Eric Gisore: The sharing economy is here to stay, and Komboa is here to stay, grow and be the biggest car-sharing platform in Africa.