Why and How We Started RedPlate
The idea behind RedPlate was hatched somewhere around 2004, over 16 years ago, in an attempt to exploit the wealth of information and insight Jamaican taxi drivers had about the city of Kingston and St. Andrew. They by far knew more about the city than anyone else. So the idea for RedPlate Magazine “Nobody Knows the city better” was hatched. We started to engage the various taxi companies in a strategic partnership to get the magazine distributed freely within their fleet of taxi cabs and to tap into the information of the drivers for content.
As the discussions progressed at a very slow pace, we quickly realised that there were much bigger problems and issues facing the Taxi drivers, the companies they represented, and more importantly the general public, who relied on them on a daily basis to move around. The reputation of Taxis and more specifically the route taxi was really bad, and their attempts to secure much-needed increases in fares from the Government were met with political resistance. The Government could not face the public with an increase without a marked improvement in services and reputation of the taxi system.
As we looked further at the sector we realised that a more lucrative opportunity was emerging that if approached right, would solve much of the problems in the system for the Taxi drivers, the companies they represented, and more importantly the general public.
On the business opportunity side, the Taxi business generated a vast amount of cash each day and was ripe for disruption using available and emerging technology. This was way before Uber, Lyft, and all the rest, so there was no web application or anything like that at the time.
Faced with very limited financial resources and an investment market that would not even consider investing in such a venture, things started to slow down, as more pressing and existing business opportunities required our attention. But we kept the project on the table and kept fine-tuning the model as emerging disruptive technology came on the market led by Uber.
This was the game-changer for us.
The project was now put on the proverbial front burner, as we sought to emulate the Uber business model. We went back to the main players in the sector and met with varying levels of interest. But we kept pushing.
It was about two years ago (2018) we realised that we were only looking at the proverbial tip of the iceberg and that there was a much bigger opportunity to be pursued. Why focus on moving people when you can use the same platform to move goods and cargo around the country. It was some months after this we read that Uber was also moving in this direction. We were very encouraged by this development.
And so The RedPlate Company was formed.
Another major event further refined the business model and would now lead to a major realignment and expansion of the vision of the business… COVID19.
COVID19 caught thousands of retailers and merchants flatfooted, they were not ready for online shopping and delivery. With shutdowns and curfews, business nosedived, as the entire retail and distribution sector was pulled apart.
We quickly identified and formed four (4) key features of the current opportunity and what would be required to capitalise on it.
- There is no reason why, Consumers, Local Brick and Mortar Retailers, and MSME business operators cannot compete and offer home and office delivery services in Jamaica.
- Farmers, brick-and-mortar retailers, and MSME business operators must however invest in technology to take the in-store experience to the digital age.
- Consumers are increasingly looking for “Quick Pickup and Delivery” options as they seek to maximise personal time and expenses while avoiding crowded space occasioned by the Covid 19 pandemic.
- Due to much lower costs of acquisition of motor vehicles and cycles, more Jamaicans are seeking ways and means of converting them into income-generating opportunities.
The Business Opportunity Was Simple – Digitize All Available Space And Capacity In Every Vehicle On The Road
- Provide the general public with a more modern safer and predictably means of public transportation.
- Provide taxi drivers with a more structured and professional business operation to allow for more stable and predictable higher income streams.
- Setup an islandwide on-demand delivery infrastructure that all retailers and merchants, online or offline, could use for delivery even if they had no eCommerce presence. This would now provide Farmers, Brick and Mortar Retailers, and MSME business operators with an opportunity to compete and offer home and office delivery services across Jamaica.
- Provide consumers with “Quick Pickup and Delivery” options as they seek to maximise personal time and expenses while avoiding crowded space occasioned by the Covid 19 pandemic.
We are now living and writing the next chapter… stay tuned………… RedPlate is “On The Move”
Aldo Antonio, Co Founder & Group President and CEO The RedPlate Group
& Executive Chairman, RedPlate Technologies Jamaica Limited.