The uber rise of Uber in South Africa according to Alon Lits.

The uber rise of Uber in South Africa according to Alon Lits.

Anyone who has had the dubious pleasure of being pulled aside by JMPD after a night of wining and dining will appreciate that Uber not only saves lives but they also deliver peace of mind faster than they can get you to your destination.

Uber may not be as big as Google (yet!) but chances are that everyone has overheard someone say that they’re going to uber. They are such an innovative company that I had to get a first hand account of their success from Alon Lits, General Manager of Uber Joburg, so I invited him to join us in the JoziStyle studios at Radio Today Johannesburg.

Edward Chamberlain-Bell: Before Uber launched in South Africa two years’ ago, people were waiting for taxis. Now, we simply “Uber”. What has contributed to Uber’s success in South Africa?
Alon Lits: A large part of Uber’s success stems from the fact that we are offering an unprecedented level of safety and convenience when it comes to transportation. Everyone needs to get around their city and we are adding to that transportation ecosystem; giving riders more choice and drivers more economic alternatives.

As a technology company, our strength is that we can move and adapt quickly, based on what works best for each city- including pricing, car type, mapping, etc. Our safety features are the gold standard: on requesting a car, you see the driver’s photo, name and car licence plate. You are also able to share your route with your friends and family so they know exactly when you are arriving.

By offering unprecedented accountability and transparency (built into our system), and having vehicle options at various price points Uber has transformed the way people think about their transportation options in South Africa. We think we’re part of a pretty exciting change at the moment, and our technology makes our riders lives easier and simpler. The way people think about transportation and are moving around their cities is changing, and Uber is a big part of that change.

ECB: Explain how Uber works to someone who doesn’t even know about it? What are the basic requirements?
AL
: Uber is evolving the way the world moves, seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through smartphone technology. Uber’s mission is nothing less than a revolution in the way citizens of the world move, work and live. It aspires to transform the way people connect with their communities and to bring reliability, convenience and opportunity to transport systems. The Uber network is now available in 300 cities in over 54 countries spanning 6 continents.

To request a ride, users must download the free application for Android, iPhone, Blackberry 7, or register for Uber at www.uber.com/go.

ECB: What are the advantages of using Uber?
AL
: Uber’s innovative technology also means we are streets ahead of our rivals on safety. Uber riders and partner drivers benefit from the following gold standard safety measures, designed to improve reliability and rider journeys.

1) Driver Information:
Uber riders can see their drivers photograph, name, vehicle and vehicle registration as well as the drivers star rating when booking – providing riders with all the information they need to ensure a safe and secure ride before even stepping into the car.

2) Live GPS-enabled Map:
Uber riders also have access to a live GPS-enabled map throughout their journey and can share this with family, partners or friends, who can then track their swift, secure and safe travel to their destination.

3) Rider Feedback:
Riders can rate their drivers at the end of each journey. Uber’s 5 star rating system means Uber riders can give honest (and anonymous) feedback about the driver taking them to their destination. Drivers who don’t consistently keep customers happy and get good ratings from passengers, are removed from the Uber service. Uber’s rating system means the rider drives the service levels and can give real-time feedback on their trips.

4) Driver Safety:
Uber also takes the safety and security of their partner drivers extremely seriously. Uber is a completely cashless system protecting both riders and drivers. Drivers don’t carry cash; all payments are cashless, electronic and traceable. A rider’s fare is charged automatically and electronically onto their credit or debit card after their trip.

5) Driver Background Checks:
Uber is leading the transportation industry with safety standards second to none. All Uber partners undergo a comprehensive AFIS criminal background check before they are allowed to drive on the Uber system. In addition, Uber performs regular vehicle inspections to ensure vehicle safety standards are maintained. This makes Uber the safest and most efficient way to get around.

ECB: You are Uber’s first General Manager in Africa, having created over 2,000 jobs in South Africa, you now aim to create another 15,000 jobs within the next 2 years. Isn’t that overly optimistic?
AL
: We don’t think this is overly optimistic, and we are committed to creating these jobs. Since launching in South Africa, the growth and uptake has been incredible. In a short space of time, we’re are doing tens of thousands of trips per week, with thousands of drivers on our system and everyday more and more riders and drivers are coming onto the system.

Riders are constantly amazed that they can get such a stylish ride at their doorstep in a matter of minutes – simply with the tap of a button. For drivers, Uber’s lead generation software facilitates a powerful entrepreneurship opportunity. Drivers make more – and with greater flexibility – than any other option available to them. Every month, Uber empowers hundreds of entrepreneurs to become small business owners in South Africa. This contributes significantly to the 50,000+global entrepreneurs who are empowered monthly on the Uber platform.

We are changing the way people think about getting around, we are changing the way people connect with the people in their cities. ~ Alon Lits

ECB: What was your biggest challenge launching an unfamiliar concept in South Africa, and what has been your biggest moment that made you realize that you were on the right track?
AL
: We are changing the way people think about getting around, we are changing the way people connect with the people in their cities. In South Africa we have partnered with a significant number of drivers and hearing stories about how we have provided our them with the tools to not only build their own small businesses but to grow them as well- was a real touching moment for us (see Uber partner driver stories here).

Uber’s mission is to provide a safe and reliable transport option to riders and greater economic opportunity to drivers. The growing number of partner drivers, driving on the platform, as well as riders using the technology in South Africa- is really testament to that.

ECB: What are the requirements to become an Uber driver? What training do they get? How much can they earn?
AL
: Uber’s innovative technology means we’re streets ahead of our rivals on safety. Riders can track their route, see their driver before they get in the car, and let friends know when they’re likely to arrive.Riders can also rate their drivers at the end of each journey and can give honest feedback about the driver taking them to their destination.

Uber screen all partner drivers before they are allowed onto the system and we proactively monitor driver quality. All partners have a PDP license, and all new partner drivers undergo a comprehensive AFIS criminal background check before they are allowed to drive on the Uber system. In addition, Uber performs regular vehicle inspections to ensure vehicle safety standards are maintained. This makes Uber one of the safest and most efficient ways to get around.

We provide the partner drivers with the Uber technology, as well as the hardware to run the technology. Each partner driver is taken through an in-depth three step training process, where they learn how the Uber app and GPS navigation system works, various scenarios they might encounter while on the road, and the importance of putting the customer first and how to provide them with the best service possible.

For partner drivers specifically; Uber is focused on delivering as much value from the platform to drivers as possible, and they will continue support and empower the partner-drivers through greater economic opportunities. Uber is using our corporate connections to ensure that every opportunity and partnership we have developed is available to the partner-drivers. We want to provide them with as many benefits as we can to empower them to run an even more successful business. These opportunities include getting better financing options and insurance rates for their vehicles and car washes, to name a few. Training and upskilling all partner-drivers are important focus areas for Uber, and paramount to our success.

ECB: Privacy and safety are big concerns, especially for women, what measures do you have setup to ensure that?
AL
: Uber’s innovative technology also means we are streets ahead of our rivals on safety. Uber riders and partner drivers benefit from the following gold standard safety measures, designed to improve reliability and rider journeys.

1) Driver Information:
Uber riders can see their drivers photograph, name, vehicle and vehicle registration as well as the drivers star rating when booking – providing riders with all the information they need to ensure a safe and secure ride before even stepping into the car.

2) Live GPS-enabled Map:
Uber riders also have access to a live GPS-enabled map throughout their journey and can share this with family, partners or friends, who can then track their swift, secure and safe travel to their destination.

3) Rider Feedback:
Riders can rate their drivers at the end of each journey. Uber’s 5 star rating system means Uber riders can give honest (and anonymous) feedback about the driver taking them to their destination. Drivers who don’t consistently keep customers happy and get good ratings from passengers, are removed from the Uber service. Uber’s rating system means the rider drives the service levels and can give real-time feedback on their trips.

4) Driver Safety:
Uber also takes the safety and security of their partner drivers extremely seriously. Uber is a completely cashless system protecting both riders and drivers. Drivers don’t carry cash; all payments are cashless, electronic and traceable. A rider’s fare is charged automatically and electronically onto their credit or debit card after their trip.

5) Driver Background Checks:
Uber is leading the transportation industry with safety standards second to none. All Uber partners undergo a comprehensive AFIS criminal background check before they are allowed to drive on the Uber system. In addition, Uber performs regular vehicle inspections to ensure vehicle safety standards are maintained.

Phone number anonymization rolled out in South Africa on Wednesday 08 April 2015. Currently Uber has phone anonymization in 13 countries around the world, with many more markets following soon. Phone number anonymization obscures driver and rider phone numbers. Drivers are assigned a single, unique number that they call when they need to reach out to the rider. Riders in turn call that same number to contact the driver.

This makes Uber one of the safest and most efficient ways to get around for men and women.

ECB: What recourse does a rider have if they have an unsatisfactory experience?
AL
: All drivers are rated by their clients after their trips and clients can give feedback immediately. We have a zero tolerance approach to instances where rider safety is compromised and we immediately terminate partnerships with these drivers. Drivers are aware of this zero tolerance approach and accordingly the systems encourages professional and safe conduct by drivers.

ECB: Any tips for riders to improve their experience with Uber?
AL
: For riders looking for a more affordable rider, why not split you fare with friends in the vehicle?

Splitting a fare is very simple:

  • Request a ride
    Tap the “up arrow” icon next to your driver’s info
    Select “Split Fare”
    Choose your friends
    Tap “Send”

The friend(s) you want to split the fare with will:

  • Tap the link in the text message from Uber
    Your friends who don’t have an Uber account will be asked to download the app and sign up
    Your Uber-savvy friends will be taken directly to the Uber app
    Your friends will confirm they want to split your fare

Then let Uber take care of the rest ! The fare is split equally, this is a total no-brainer!

To learn more or to create your own account, visit Uber.com.

Even better, Earn free rides worth R150 from @Uber & #JoziStyle at www.uber.com/invite/uberjozistyle.

Join Uber with JoziStyle

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