LULA’s dynamo Co-Founder on solving problems and successful entrepreneurship

Velani Mboweni is a disruptor – one of those people who spots a gap in the market and comes up with a simple but audacious way to fill it.

“I have always been passionate about entrepreneurship,” he says. “And entrepreneurship means helping people solve problems.”

From a very young age, Velani has been gifted with numbers. While he loved aviation and was accepted at Wits University to pursue a career in Aeronautical Engineering, Velani chose to study Bcom PPE instead. After completing his postgraduate studies, he took the risk to forego the comfort of a salary to dedicate his time to serving people and solving problems.

But there were so many different problems to solve that for several years he was just, in his own words, spinning his wheels.

“The problem was, I had the vision but no plan,” he says. “It took me a long time to get the focus I needed. And I realised that without focus, you go nowhere. If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. ”

Vaguely, Velani knew that transport – for most people – was a basic economic necessity. Despite knowing nothing about the transport industry, he decided to work on a plan to make a difference to the way people travelled. And he came up with LULA.

“It’s a system that automatically matches a business with a transport service,” he says. “It’s not an e-hailing service. The client is the business, not the passenger. So we have a team of vetted and supervised drivers with a wide variety of mass-transport vehicles, of all sizes. And we match them up with businesses that need mass transport, either to get their employees home safely and reliably, or for hospitality businesses that don’t want the overheads and hassle of keeping a fleet of vehicles but would like to offer a customised transport service to their clients.”

LULA can currently match almost a thousand vehicles of all shapes and sizes with businesses anywhere in five cities across South Africa. LULA takes care of vehicle inspections, safety requirements, driver accreditation and quality control. All the client needs to do is book a ride, specify the number of passengers, the purpose and destination, and a people carrier is on its way.

“The benefits for the client is that they have access to a vetted, reliable means of transport for their employees or guests with standardised pricing,” Velani continues, “and the benefit for the drivers is that they have access to the market and consistent income.”

“LULA is on a mission to normalise shared rides. While we offer several vehicle types to meet the needs of our customers, we prioritise high-capacity vehicles because we are committed to reducing the number of cars on the road and in turn the amount of CO2 that is emitted through ground transportation.”

It’s a simple but brilliant idea, with a number of avenues for expansion. It took a while for Velani to find the road from idea to reality, but he says that is what being an entrepreneur is all about.

“When you start a business,” he says, “you have to do it for any reason besides money. You have to do it because you believe in it, you have to live it. You must fall in love with the problem and be inspired by it. It must be something worth solving. If you do that, you will automatically find that you undersell and over-deliver. And that is how to be a successful entrepreneur.”

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