There’s no business that has been shielded from COVID-19. South African technology startups were impacted by the pandemic. We asked various founders and leaders  about their survival strategies. First on our list is Droppa, a startup founded by Khathu Mufamadi.

I joined Khathu via a call to chat with him about surviving the early days of lockdown in South Africa.

Condensed and edited excerpts from the conversation follow:

KHATHU MUFAMADI, Droppa interviewed by WESLEY DIPHOKO Editor-In-Chief, Fast Company (SA):

Tell us more about Droppa, What and who is Droppa as a company? Droppa is a mobile app  which is available both on Android and iOS. You can also use the website to access the same features as the App. You can also integrate the API. We don’t own the trucks, we connect truck owners and those who need their delivery services.

What was the focus of the company  before COVID-19 and how did it survive? The company was focused more on transporting non-essential goods (furniture and other goods). We pivoted the company to provide more important things during this COVID-19 period. Due to constraints introduced by COVID-19 we are now used to transport essential goods.  Now we have Droppa express, courier and freight. Basically, that’s how we’ve pivoted.

How has pivoting enabled your business to survive COVID-19? If we had not pivoted, our revenue would have remained zero, during level 5 and 4 of lockdown. What we were doing before COVID-19 accounts for about 50%. Pivoting due to COVID-19 has allowed us to get into other industries and we’re seeing results.

How is business now? I think for level 3 (June 2020) we have recovered to pre-lockdown period. From level 4 we’ve started recovering. Before COVID-19 we were more focused on consumer services however after COVID-19 we’ve started to offer services to businesses.

Which industries have been assisted more by your service? Retail businesses have been the key beneficiary of our services.

Tell us about your technology? The company works with an app which allows people to request for services such courier services. The online platform is used by retailers to request for distribution services. Some of our clients who are more tech savvy use our APIs to integrate their online systems with our online platform. This allows them to use our services as soon as they get orders we then enable distribution. This cuts turnaround time from 3 days to 1 day delivery.

Tell us about the business eco-system (the owners of trucks) that is enabled by your business? We enable small business owners to access the market. Before our intervention they used to park outside a retailers business to wait for an order. Our system allows them to improve their revenues. Since our payments to businesses are enabled online, the truck get to be paid weekly. During COVID-19 lockdown we’ve also enabled truck owners who were no longer allowed to park outside retailers to still access the market. Our technology allows them to access orders from their homes.

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