🛵 7 Plays for a R112bn Stake…

Plus: Digital nomads wanted, Google’s colour problem & 17+ insider secrets for building a startup in SA.
February 23, 2024

Take two? Behold, scientists have managed to grow a teeny, tiny pair of testicles in a test tube. And, we assume, asking everyone to stop laughing at their itsy-bitsy breakthrough.

In this Open Letter:

  • Big moves: 7 Plays for a stake in SA’s R112bn last-mile industry.
  • Soaring AI chips, Google’s colour problem & SA hunting digital nomads.
  • The highlights: 17+ insider secrets for building a startup in SA.
  • How you use your AI at work: The results are in.
  • Free business tools: Share this and get cool gifts.

Scooting Into SA’s R112bn Last-Mile Space

On pre-pandemic SA roads, it wasn't that often that one saw a scooter cruising around doing a delivery. 

Sure, Mr Delivery was already a thing, and you had one or two local convenience stores (think mom-and-pop hardware stores or the local pharmacy) with their own delivery driver. But these were few and far between.

Fast forward to 2024, and we find ourselves in a post-pandemic, last-mile-fueled, e-commerce-comfortable place where scooters are so commonplace that an entire industry has been birthed, seemingly overnight.

How big is this space? 

Research says delivery fees are about 30-50% of e-commerce costs. So, if SA’s e-commerce industry is set to do R225 billion per year by 2025, we can safely assume the last mile space could be worth anywhere between R67 billion and R112 billion per year. 

But the opportunities lie not only in the demand for deliveries from a host of new and old e-commerce players but also in services and products used when fulfilling those deliveries.

Sheez! Like 60% is the scooter dude’s salary.

Replace the driver, and there is money to be made. This is perhaps why international drone delivery startup Zipline is now valued at $4.2 billion. And, although not a unicorn just yet, back home Autonosky is building a last-mile delivery drone called Autono1 which looks pretty cool.

But looking at the other costs, there are opportunities across the board. Let’s dive in…

Actual footage of Cape Town when the Friday afternoon Sixty60 orders come in — jokes its AI being awesome.

1) You need a Delivery Vehicle

EVs drive free (no petrol) so if you can use their entire charge during the day, you get max upside.

And if you consider a partnership like the one between Zimifleet’s electric fleets and Versofy’s Solar as a Service solution, a driver could basically charge their e-scooter using the sun and drive for free. Not sure which EV to buy? Get Zimi’s 2024 EV catalog featuring all commercial EV options.

But if you’re still keen on going with the good old 95 unleaded, online classified aggregator ananzi.co.za has nearly 500 listings gathered from all parts of SA classifieds for delivery scooters.

2) Optimised route planning

Route planning and solving the traveling salesperson's problem of finding routes and managing work to shorten trips and spending is a big one.

Loop is tackling this. Using algorithms, it is a cloud-based delivery platform providing route optimisation utilised mostly by last-mile delivery services.

Forest never stopped delivering.

3) Lockers

The use of lockers for deliveries and collections has risen over the last few years with the likes of Pudo, Bob Box (from the old Bid or Buy crew), and DSV (used by Makro) popping up everywhere. Delivering to lockers is substantially cheaper than home-based deliveries and with e-commerce providers footing the bill for delivery (if you meet the order threshold), they prefer it when you choose this option.

4) Making money while you drive

Its good business if your bike is out on the road all day. But that also means people see it. And the folks at MotionAds offer branded top boxes and fins – really hard to miss when you’re stuck in peak-hour traffic. And with location data, one could predict how many people saw it.

5) Get bikes back on the road

Vehicles that drive a lot can break often and having to take them into a repair shop could waste a lot of time and lose revenue. So getting mechanics, parts, and servicing on the road is a win to keep vehicles moving.

That’s what SA startup Fixxr is doing – using tech to reduce labour costs and get the mechanic to come to you.

Coming in hot with some cookies.

6) Bespoke insurance solutions

Driving a delivery scooter on SA roads is not for the faint-hearted and normal insurance simply won’t cut it.

That’s why tailored insurance that doesn't just include the bike (think helmet and accessories) like FareDrive or King Price Insurance, offers comprehensive value.

7) An API to get a delivery done

Having an employed driver comes with a host of admin and overhead – and in most cases, it makes sense to outsource deliveries — even Sixty60 does it using Pingo. Last-mile as a service (LMaaS) is about to boom.

  • Pargo: a network of over 4’000 Click and Collect points in SA that integrates with Shopify and WooCommerce to handle delivery for you.
  • Picup: Instant, hyper-local collection and delivery within 1 hour leveraging a crowd-sourced driver network.
  • OrderKasi: last-mile deliveries in townships (we’re chatting to the founder on our HWYBI podcast next week).

So many ways to get a slice of this pie. And by the looks of it, it will be a big pie. We are watching this space.


🇿🇼 Zim-Combinator. Zimbabwean AI startup, Ocular AI has been selected for Y Combinator’s winter 2024 batch. The AI startup connects a company’s data from different sources to search, visualise, and automate workflows on a single platform.

🚀 Chips Are Up. NVIDIA, the graphics processing unit (GPU) and AI chip company has reported their Q4 revenue (ending Jan 2024) has grown 265% YoY to $22.1 billion. This shows how the demand for accelerated computing and generative AI has surged across the globe.

🎨 Broken Colour Picker. Google says it’ll pause its Gemini AI’s abilities to generate images of people after users found the tool was generating inaccurate historical images. Everyone from the US Founding Fathers and Nazi-era German soldiers have been depicted as, well, not white.

🥤 Past It’s Prime. Bottles of popular Prime Hydration that were selling for as much as R800 in some places early last year (pre-launch on Checkers for R40) have seen their prices slashed and you can now get your hands on a bottle for as little as R10.

🤑 Big Spenders. In case you missed the SA Budget Speech this week, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced that the government net loan debt has grown to R5.06 trillion – 71.7% of the country’s GDP.

👩‍💻 Digital Nomads in Mzansi? South Africa is hunting wealthy digital nomads earning at least R1 million annually, with the publication of draft regulation for digital nomad visas. If this bill eventually passes, it could make South Africa only the 5th African nation to offer these visas.


17+ Gold Insights for Building a Startup in SA

If you’re working on, in, with or around startups in the tech space, then this week’s podcast is for you. It’s our 50th episode and 1st anniversary, and as a special treat, we’ve packaged all of our gold moments and founder insights from the year — in one awesome 40-minute experience.

So, if you’re new to the How Would You Build It podcast, or you’ve joined recently and haven’t had the time to watch and re-watch all our previous episodes, here’s a highlight reel of some of the best startup insights we’ve had over the past 12 months.

Awesome insights

From everything you learn working “in the line of fire” at a startup that you’d never get at Nedbank or Investec, to knowing exactly which ideas are actually actionable, taking big risks as a founder, how to get your first 100 sales to how to market yourself, how to build to exit, all the way to building a massive tech company without knowing how to code — it’s all here in this week’s podcast, plus loads more. Enjoy!

You can also grab the Spotify and Apple Podcast links on our website here.


We asked if you’d ever take a remote dev job and just wing it using AI for 4x your current salary, and naturally we’re all pretty honest (and AI savvy)…

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤫 I’ve applied to multiple jobs to do just that. (8%)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🤖 No, but I am using AI to do my current job. (36%)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ 💡 How do I do this? (27%)

🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️ 🙅🏼‍♀️ Nope won't do it (27%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🕵 What is AI? (2%)

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