I can’t do it alone, so how will I get a team?

A business needs a team, and I obviously cannot hope to succeed with TraTo completely alone. This project is something unique and has incredible – risky – potential! It’s the kind of thing we daydream of but most people wouldn’t consider trying… but it should appeal to a few crazy people. I hope I’m able to form a team soon; a good team I can rely on, and who rely on me!

I do a course called Business Strategy, which every 4th year Business Science student at UCT takes. So I’m in a class of 400 of the brightest minds around. I’m going to present the idea to them on Monday before our final lecture, in the best possible way I can, and ask anyone who wants to do it with me to do so.

All I need to do is find people with similar passions. It’s probably more difficult than it would sounds, but it’s certainly more possible in that class than anywhere else. I have no issues with speaking to 400 people, but my class are not all ordinary people, and it’ll certainly be a bit more intimidating… there must be someone there whose ideals stretch beyond him/herself…

According to a great source of entrepreneurial inspiration, Inc.com, the best kind of person to hire has three things; fits into the organisation, is capable, and is passionate. I’m going to need to look for people with all three.

A friend told me there are more crazy people out there than we think… I’ve got to appeal to their sense of a desire for a good and rare opportunity. Besides, why wouldn’t anyone want to risk everything to work on a business that has nothing to prove that it might succeed beyond a great idea and a passionate founder?!

TraTo: Why

“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”  – Victor Hugo

Because too many cars cause problems

Simply, there are way too many cars on our roads. So many, in fact, that they’re causing real problems for us, and the environment we live in. If we had never seen modern human life, and specifically cars, and a person explained what cars are and why we have traffic and pollution, we would think it’s completely ludicrous that we continue to travel like this.

Having so many cars on our roads is bad because it causes traffic, which exhausts and angers people who contend with it each day, to the point where some people would consider moving closer to their workplace to spend less time in traffic! Driving one’s car each day, twice a day, can become a significant cost to anyone’s limited budget; from petrol costs, insurance, maintenance, and so on.

Having many employees who travel by car requires businesses to provide costly parking. For those businesses that provide company cars or petrol, employee driving is expensive! Many cars on the road also cost our city municipalities: through road maintenance, law enforcement, and general problem-solving costs.

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, cars are bad for our environment; because of the carbon they burn as fuel. Whatever fuel cars run on, they produce gasses that pollute our air and add to global warming, which will affect our climate many years from now. This kind of delayed reaction to our use of cars will impact future generations and the natural environment really terribly.

Because I can solve these problems

I have more than enough knowledge about these problems to know where to start in solving them – because that’s all I need to start something. To make a success out of this, I’m also going to need many other things, and a lot of help from lots of different people. I’m not special, but I have the determination to make this work.

Finally, there will never be a better time than now. Perhaps I’m crazy for thinking I can do something so difficult, so un-desired, so new… but I know that people can be brought together to do the right thing when given the opportunity and the motivation to do so, and now’s the time to get these people to travel together.

Give this a try: write down one thing you’d love to do if you could not possibly fail. Then think what it would take to overcome the potential risks.

How would TraTo work?

This is going to be an initiative that makes it worthwhile for businesses to sign their employees up to a sustainable transport system… like car-pooling, but more formally organised.

The problem with carpooling is it’s REALLY difficult to get a whole LOT of people to do it… which is understandable, because South Africans have many concerns with systems like that. Working through employees’ companies is a way to reach more people faster, which also allows it to be profitable at the same time.

There are benefits to businesses when their employees drive to work together. To explain, imagine for a second that you’re a CEO of big business that employs a large workforce, and I tell you “that huge parking lot out there in front of your factory? I can halve its size, and I’ll do this by getting your employees to drive to work together.” Imagine what you could do with all that extra space or savings! The business idea here is to use these benefits to make this an attractive offer for any company.

Why employees would agree to sign-up is because there are quite a few benefits to them too (and yes, of course, worries as well). But there’s actually another really simple way to see this problem/opportunity:

There are WAY too many cars on the road. It’s clear to anyone who sits in traffic in the morning. Every noticed how 3/4 of the cars on our roads everyday have only 1 person in them. If all of them travelled together, we’d be saving 60-70% of all that petrol (and insurance and maintenance) costs. It’s really that simple.

It then makes total sense to create a system that makes it easy for that to happen. This could be a system that removes what’s stopping people from travelling together and saving all that money. The system would link people who live near each other (such as in the same suburb, or within 5 direct km) and work in the same area (same office or factory or just nearby) together. It’s a system that needs a lot of people in the database to work effectively.

Of course the time travelling can be an issue: time leaving home (8, 8:30 or 9) and the time coming home (4-5:30) is an important factor, as well as anything that needs to be done on the way, such as kids > school. But these can be worked around.

For the full story, click over to the TraTo blog. It has also now been optimised for mobile viewing, so be sure to take a look on your phone!

Where did the idea come from?

It started a long time ago, about a week before my first day of my first year of university (at the University of Cape Town).

I hadn’t begun thinking of starting something like this then, but it was during that Orientation Week that this story begins; Among the many stalls I visited was the Green Campus Initiative (GCI) stall, where I signed up to get involved in what they do. I got talking to the young guy who ran Ridelink at UCT; Kimon de Greef. Ridelink is a project that promotes and helps students share lifts to get to campus. It sounded like a fantastic idea, getting UCT students to carpool! So I began helping him with it; but that year I really didn’t help him much though!

That got me thinking about the ridiculousness of so many cars on the roads, and the massive opportunity for the savings people could get, by reducing the waste of so many unnecessary cars. I don’t remember when – probably later that year – I started to think I could and should start something like Ridelink, but outside of UCT, in Cape Town generally.

For the next 2 or 3 years, I wondered if it was possible. I even gave it a shot during a holiday that year; with my own little service called Lift Link, distributing fliers in my neighbourhood. It didn’t work; I only got 1 person to sign up – he was a gardener and didn’t own a car.

Then one day about a year ago, I figured that my big idea would work if I could get businesses to get their employees to join! Basically: aim straight for the big boys! My thinking was that people who drive in cars each day work in central places – simple. Since then, I’ve thought about it occasionally, and I’ve slowly become more convinced that it could be possible, but incredibly difficult to get right.

It turns out that there’s no better time to see if this is possible. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

Your chance to do something! Please take a look at the TraTo blog and comment on something, anything; even if it’s just to say ‘Whatsup’!

Starting TraTo – Connecting People to Travel Together

I have a dream, that one day, everyone will travel in a smart way; that those with their own cars share their empty seats with other people who have a similar route and schedule.

The story begins today, as I ask you to support us: TraTo. Out of connecting people who drive the same routes each day, we will create a business which sparks a movement that makes sense for those who travel, for the businesses and organisations they work for, and for the benefit of our environment.

We will be kept connected through the mailing list, which you can unsubscribe from at any time, and through the TraTo blog: tratoblog.wordpress.com.

Please: share this email with just one person who may be interested, and get them to sign up. Together, we will change what it means to travel regularly.

Dane Rossenrode
TraTo Team Coordinator