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Founder of electric motorcycle company discusses his journey so far

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Founder of electrical bike firm discusses his journey to this point

An Ampersand electrical bike.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Tendencies watch
– Rwanda is taking a look at changing petrol-powered bike taxis with electrical fashions.


Josh Whale is the CEO of Ampersand, a Rwanda-based firm which builds electrical bikes and charging programs for bike taxi drivers. Ampersand’s battery swapping system permits bike taxi drivers to easily substitute depleted batteries with fully-charged ones at an Ampersand swap station. The corporate additionally takes care of servicing, repairs and spare elements whereas offering asset financing choices for drivers.

1. Inform us about one of many hardest conditions you’ve discovered your self in as a enterprise proprietor.

The Coronavirus pandemic has been an enormous problem for us. We went from having a $2 million time period sheet in entrance of us in late March, to no time period sheet and a lockdown with our e-moto drivers unable to work. Thankfully, we had been operating on a cautious, shoestring price range for a very long time. We’re additionally lucky to have an excellent CFO, Andy Williams. Andy will need to have run almost 100 totally different contingency eventualities – taking a look at attainable funding alternatives, price reductions and tranching – to allow us to make fast, well-informed selections and preserve shut oversight of our cashflow and runway whereas financially supporting our drivers in the course of the lockdown and never dropping any employees. Now we’re again on the street and have secured further grant funding, so we’re making it by means of this powerful time.

2. What entrepreneurial achievement are you most happy with?

I’m most proud that we’ve efficiently launched Africa’s first electrical taxi bike fleet, and first community of moto charging stations. Our staff has an actual shot at placing Africa on monitor to reaching a clear and sustainable transport future. Final 12 months, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame introduced that every one bike taxis within the nation will turn out to be electrical within the close to future, including unbelievable momentum to our efforts and to the nation’s transition to electrical mobility. I’m additionally proud that we’ve added to the proof that Africa could be a chief in tech revolutions, fairly than a follower. Our e-motorbikes have now been operating six days per week for over a 12 months, clocking up effectively over 500,000km and our battery stations have carried out over 12,000 swaps.

Ampersand bikes and batteries are assembled on website in Rwanda.

3. Describe your biggest weak point as an entrepreneur.

We’ve grown shortly from round 12 employees initially of 2019 to 43 employees now. I’m main the most important staff I’ve ever managed in my skilled profession. Particularly now, with the Coronavirus and the unchartered territory we’re in, it’s not all the time simple on the prime. And I don’t have a long time of expertise operating firms that I can draw on to navigate us by means of this. Thankfully, I’ve an extremely succesful staff that’s happy with what we’re doing and dedicated to reaching our targets, and funders and different supporters lending help.

4. What well-liked entrepreneurial recommendation do you disagree with?

I feel our expertise doesn’t match effectively with the “fail quick” thought. That’s the concept that suggests you must go all in, throw every thing at an thought after which hand over if the enterprise doesn’t take off inside a 12 months. The “by no means hand over” motto has been extra useful for us through the years. I based Ampersand in 2014 but it surely wasn’t till 2018 that we have been in a position to get our first prototypes on the street in Africa and our business launch was in Could 2019. Certain, electrical automobiles aren’t precisely the only tech, and being one thing of a ‘sector creator’ presents additional hurdles. So it’s been a protracted journey to get so far. Nevertheless it’s been effectively price it and I’m glad we didn’t hand over within the early days.

Josh Whale

5. Is there something you would like you knew about entrepreneurship earlier than you began?

I used to be lucky to start out my entrepreneurial journey in an excellent accelerator programme, Startupbootcamp. In a earlier life I used to be a lawyer, so it was incredible to be inducted into the world of entrepreneurship with a lot of nice help and mentorship. That received numerous the frequent misconceptions about beginning a enterprise out of the way in which shortly.

In hindsight, I feel I took an excessive amount of upon myself within the early days. I feel we’d have benefited from taking the leap and rising my staff earlier. For all of the sceptics, there are many fellow dreamers on the market, particularly with regards to one thing like local weather change. I’ve been drastically inspired by the variety of folks on the market who care deeply about local weather change and our mission, and are prepared to take a wager that we’re onto one thing massive.


Additional studying

[August 2020] Entrepreneur wants Nigerians to drink locally-grown coffee instead of imports
[August 2020] The journey so far: Mdingase Tewete, managing director, Kombeza Foods (Malawi)
[August 2020] How Kenya’s Flora Mutahi built a tea company from the ground up
[July 2020] Entrepreneur sees opportunity for childcare-related e-commerce and information
[July 2020] Nigeria: Former Diamond Bank CEO introduces new digital banking platform

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