Startup snapshot: Kenya’s Amitruck connects truck drivers directly with their customers

Mark Mwangi

Mark Mwangi

Kenyan based Amitruck is a startup that allows transporters (owners of motorbikes, pick-ups, vans and trucks) to find and connect with customers through a mobile app. The company was started in October 2018. CEO Mark Mwangi (42) answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

The fragmented African transport market is riddled with untrustworthy middlemen and plagued with a lack of security, which greatly increases the cost and liability of transporting goods. Amitruck connects transporters directly with cargo owners, avoiding expensive middlemen. Transporters can bid for work on the platform, ensuring competitive prices. Transporters on the platform are vetted and the goods are insured. Clients now have convenient access to our large fleet of diverse vehicles and great drivers, available online or on the Amitruck mobile app.

2. How did you finance your startup?

Until this point Amitruck has been bootstrapped. A lot of the investment has come in as time and sweat. Now we have support from Greentec Capital Partners. We are excited to see where we can take Amitruck from here.

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

We would shore up our technology and operational teams to help us improve the platform. We would also expand on our sales and marketing activities to make sure more people know who we are and what we do. Finally, we would look to bolster our customer care team to ensure we offer a great service.

4. What risks does your business face?

Like most other startups in this market the range of possible outcomes has been massively widened by the COVID-19 epidemic. The future of business globally and here in Kenya has become a lot foggier than it ever was. This uncertainty could make financing and demand in our market segments quite sketchy over the next few months or years. So, we are rolling up our sleeves to ensure we make the necessary changes to help our clients navigate through this safely and as best we can.

5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

We tried all types of marketing but when it comes down to it, I have to say that word of mouth has been the most successful. Having a great team working with great customers and partners seems to be paying dividends. Nothing sells like a customer telling another what a great experience they had with your company.

6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

I remember in March of 2019 when we got our first real request for a pick-up truck in Nairobi. Seeing the clients interacting with the product we had just created was pretty exciting. To be honest, we still get great satisfaction when a client gets their delivery completed successfully. I think the only other one that comes close, was finding my team wearing Amitruck T-shirts to the office – and the founders had nothing to do with it.

7. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it.

I think indecision and hesitation, especially after we have made mediocre choices in the past, whether in hiring or just strategy. If I have learnt anything, it is having the self-honesty to acknowledge when it’s not working and the courage to step in and take action. The quicker this happens the better.

Further reading

[January 2019] On the road to faster freight transport: Kobo360’s Uber for trucks
[September 2016] Djibouti’s strategic location presents opportunities for investment in logistics
[February 2013] Entrepreneur explains why he launched a water transport business on Lake Victoria
[November 2015] Interview: ‘Transport costs in East Africa 60% higher than in US and Europe’
[October 2015] Startup snapshot: Uber for motorcycle taxis in Rwanda