As part of their ongoing efforts to help South African SMEs navigate the post-pandemic “Great Staggering” back into the new post-normal, post-lockdown world, Bronwyn Williams, partner at Flux Trends, interviewed Tshidi Morabi at the Alinea Innovation Master Class to find out South African businesses can use innovation to become more resilient and sustainable.
Tshidi Morabi is the inventor of LocTransie, a mobile application that connects parents with their child’s school transport system. She established the business in 2014, with her over 20 years of experience in software development and technology.
LocTransie scooped up several, including two MTN Business app of the year awards in 2019. As such, Morabi shares insights into building an innovative business from the ground up in South Africa – even when the odds seem stacked against you.
That aha! moment was when I was unable to locate my own child. She was using scholar transport and it was first day of the first year at high school. I had to rush home just to make sure that my child is in a safe at home because the scholar transport driver was not answering the phone. I was really, worried. So that is what made me to create the app, for me and for other parents to addressing our social need for peace of mind for parents.
In alignment with Covid-19 requirements, we have added the temperature field so that when the scholar transport driver picks up the child at his home, they can actually enter the temperature to say the child was picked up, and again when the child is dropped off at school.
My challenge was more about cash flow because the app was self-funded. Also getting the right person to develop the app the way I envisioned it was a challenge.
I believe that if you can think of something, and you see that it will work – just go ahead and pursue it. Because my motto in life is that if I can think of it, then it is worth pursuing.
You just must take chances and say, this will work if you believe in it, then you should be good to go.
I would say people tend to be too relaxed. We are used to being consumers, not creators of things.
We believe that if somebody has created something, we will just be piggybacking on it and use it. We need to change our mindset to be creators, not consumers.
Collaboration, it is critically important because you might have an idea, but you need to collaborate with other people so that you can see things in a different context. Because when I thought of my app, I was looking at it from a parent point of view, because I was the parent who was anxious about the safety of my child. Then, when I started collaborating, speaking to the schools speaking to the transport companies, and I realised there is another set of information that I require for me to make my service accepted by all the parties.
That is difficult one, I think finding collaboration if you are not looking for funding, it is quite easy. Some people will push back if you need money from them, and they do not believe in your idea.
But if you are collaborating for the sense of putting this product together, and you make it clear that you will fund it and that you just want their point of view from a specific perspective, I think it is much easier.
But again, you must also make sure that you do not get people who are claiming they can do something for you – they need to prove what they can deliver.
It’s critically important to be hands-on as the owner of the idea, to make sure that it’s developed and delivered exactly how you wanted it initially, even though you have combined other people’s perspectives in it.
I would say you must always be innovative; we must always come with a new idea like now with the Covid-19, we did not sit back and complain about Covid-19.
We used Covid-19 to look at what can we do so that our product is relevant now, in the correct context – that is why we added the temperature feature to our app, for example.
You need to be proactive and respond to the changing needs of your customers.
My advice will be to follow your dream. If you have any innovative idea, you can always turn that into reality. So, talk to other people, if you need help, but make sure that they sign an NDA before you disclose what you want to do.
And run with it. Because it is possible.
This interview was part of the Flux Trends Alinea Mini Masterclass Series dedicated to helping South African entrepreneurs and SMEs use trends as business insights to get back to work after the manifold challenges of 2020.