Owen Lekala,HIKE App designer and TUT Alum.
Asked to explain why he developed the app, Owen says, "I created the app because I saw a need and wanted to address it. Many people were unhappy with the high cost of rides and the fees drivers had to pay to other e-hailing companies. I wanted to develop an app that was cheaper for everyone and fair for drivers. I did it because I believed in making transportation better for people and helping drivers earn more money."
Owen details the challenges he faced when creating the app as follows: "Developing the app was not easy. I started in 2021 by saving my NSFAS meal allowance, and I really got to work. I had to learn a lot about computer programming and do a lot of research. After about a year of hard work, HIKE was ready, and I launched it in November 2021. The first version was available on the Google Play Store, and I continued to save funds to afford to also have the iOS version on the Apple App Store."
"Financial constraints were a constant hurdle. I had to carefully manage and invest my meal allowance to fund the development of the app, which meant making sacrifices with regards to my personal expenses. Additionally, being self-taught in programming presented a steep learning curve, and I had to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to acquire the necessary skills", recalls Owen.
Owen is planning to grow in this industry. "As for creating other software, I am definitely open to exploring new opportunities in the tech world. My journey with HIKE has taught me a great deal, and I am eager to apply my knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to other ventures that can address important challenges and improve people's lives."
"Remember that progress, not perfection, is the goal. It is okay if you do not have a perfect final product right away. Start small, break your project into manageable steps, and focus on achieving one milestone at a time. Each small step is a victory that brings you closer to your goal," adds Owen.
"The university was instrumental in my career. It provided the foundational knowledge and skills through its educational programmes, fostering my growth in software development. Beyond academics, the university offered resources like libraries and labs that were crucial for research and learning. Moreover, Financial Aid provided the initial funding that kicked off my entrepreneurial journey. All of these created a supportive environment that helped me shape my career and eventually develop HIKE", concludes Owen.
Tshepho Mgiba, Marketing Manager of the HIKE App, says: "We recently conducted a month-long trial campaign in areas like Hatfield, Braamfontein, Midrand, Pretoria CBD, and Campus Square. During this campaign, our focus was on assisting our target market with app downloads. The first segment of our target market has responded positively to the HIKE App brand."
"Our overarching plan is to make the app resonate with every South African, becoming the preferred choice for commuters and a platform that allows drivers to be profitable. We aim to create a strong presence and reputation in the ride-hailing market," says Tshepo.