Is it possible to make car ownership redundant in South Africa by 2025? Ask Fikile Magadlela, co-founder of bike-sharing business iBoni, and he’ll say “yes!”. We asked him a few questions to hear his thoughts on the bicycle culture in Stockholm, working in an international environment and the confused Swedish weather.
Why did you apply to the SE Outreach Accelerator?
Initially I applied because I needed the skills that were advertised and also it was going to expose me to a region of the world that has a culture built around what we want to create for Johannesburg, which is a cycling and bike-sharing culture. Stockholm is really exciting because it was a great opportunity to be exposed to it first-hand, so that was one of the reasons I applied. And obviously the structure of the program itself – that it was split between two periods with an implementation period in-between. It seemed very practical, that you ideate, implement and then finalize. I also did a bit of research and I looked at some of the previous participants and previous mentors and I was quite impressed so I decided to apply.
Now that you have completed the first three weeks of the program, what has your experience been like so far?
My experience has been great, just short of life changing I must say! It’s been a great opportunity to live the business and see it from the outside to compare my thoughts with some of the leading minds on some of these subjects. I enjoyed the lectures, the mentors and exposure to some of the entrepreneurs and investors – it was great.
What has been your best moment?
My best moment was….Well there have been so many. It’s quite difficult on the spot to think of one. But I think I’d say the session with Karin Sharma on Intercultural Communication, because it exposed me to something that I wasn’t aware of completely. I wasn’t aware that it is a science that people can study, so that was really cool.
On the topic of that, what has it been like working with a group of people from different countries?
It’s been quite interesting. The first day we met we’d obviously read about each other but when you get to know the people you see, you get to know so much about the different parts of the world. When I leave here I feel so connected, because it’s like my network can span almost the whole world. And that’s really amazing to think of.
What has been your biggest insight or learning?
There have been a lot of insights, especially with Lena Ramfelt because of the Gearup tool. It’s been quite a reflective process because we are still in the pre-implementation phase so especially for my business there have been a lot of learnings. I’d say that key amongst them is being able to re-identify what the pain is for the customer, what’s really at the core.
What is the first thing you are going to do when you get home?
First thing I’m going to do is sleep! It’s been an intense three weeks, but after I rest the first thing that I want to do is go out and speak to customers. We have been making a lot of detailed assumptions, so now it’s time to test and see. We identified two customer segments – the advertising agencies that could potentially display some of their brands on the bicycles and the commuters themselves, as the end-users or customers. Why would they cycle? What’s the reason? What’s the real pain? I’m really eager to interview a few people, or to just observe them to find out their behaviour.
And finally, what has it been like to experience Sweden?
Sweden’s been really cool. Cold, confused weather sometimes but it’s been a fun experience. I love Stockholm, it’s such a beautiful city and it’s quite an amazing place.