Meet the South African tech company going to the Startup World Cup in California

Tech startup Empty Trips will represent South Africa at the 2018 Startup World Cup in California, giving it a chance to win $1 million (R13.75 million), after it recently won the Chivas Venture Pitching Den at the 2017 SA Innovation Summit.

EmptyTrips is an online trip exchange using smart technology to match and connect spare capacity on a truck, train, plane or ship, to those requiring goods transported.

The EmptyTrips Platform facilitates and optimizes free-capacity on trucks, trains, planes and ships in Africa, allowing for smart-shared transport of goods with reduced wastage, enhanced transport network, lower costs and easier access for goods to reach to new markets throughout Africa.

“As we facilitate trade and integration, we create traffic needed to make infrastructure developments more viable too,” said EmptyTrips. The company said it is in talks with Transnet to add freight rail capacity.

In July, Seedstars South Africa, a promoter and investor of emerging market startups held its grand final, selecting the 10 best startups across South Africa, including EmptyTrips.

CEO and founder of the company, Benji Coetzee has nearly a decade experience in top tier consulting through the Boston Consulting Group, CIB (HSBC Africa) and Hollard Insurance.

Having launched the business less than a year ago, Coetzee told Ventureburn that it has already signed up over 160 companies to create capacity and demand. “We are currently setting up a number of pilots with large couriers and state-owned rail operators. In addition, we have facilitated a number of paid successful trips to date which were unexpected, yet not a number to brag about at this stage.”

Coetzee said that EmptyTrips has secured seed funding from a listed local company, “which if all goes as planned will be drawn down in October 2017.”

Japanese startup, UniFa won the 2017 edition of the Starup World Caup in March, claiming the $1 million investment prize from Fenox Venture Capital.

UniFa is an IoT solution for tracking kindergarteners’ physical and mental growth using a personal robot called Meebo, a smart thermometer, and a smart bed that collects data from children at kindergarten to give parents a better idea of their child’s well-being.

Open Bionics, a 3D printer of robotic arms from the United Kingdom came second, and Ahlijasa, an on-demand laundry service from Indonesia, was third.


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