Uber driving 101: Startup Lessons From Nnenna
From forgetting to start a trip, to making way less than advertised, this young mum shares her surprises and lessons after one-week of driving for Uber and Taxify in Lagos, Nigeria.
“Hello. Your ride has arrived.”
“I’ll be right out, please.”
I sprayed one last whiff of perfume and raced down the stairs. It was date night and my excitement didn’t let me think through the female voice I had just heard on the phone. I hadn’t booked the ride myself else the name should have prepared me. I plumped into the back seat before looking up to the smile and face – a woman!
“I need to tweet about this,” I announced.
She laughed and started the trip. Then we began to converse.
“The car was just sitting at home and I kept giving people free rides anytime I had to go out. Then I thought to myself, ‘why not make some money since I love to drive?’ Then I just did it.”
Nnenna started driving for Uber exactly a week on the day she picked me. Apart from the expected ‘it’s a female’ exclamations she gets from her riders, and making pleasant conversations, her earnings haven’t matched her expectations.
“Before I started, I’d heard that I could make 75 to 100,000 naira ($207 -277) a week. But that’s a far cry from my experience so far. I was told by others (drivers) to register on both Taxify and Uber so that I can get ride opportunities from users on both platforms. So when I’m on a ride for one, I go offline on the other, yet the money’s yet to add up.”
“Maybe it’s because I’ve been getting more short distance rides. I hear it’s the long ones that pay well. Imagine earning N299 on a ride within Victoria Island? Plus there are downtimes that there are just no rides and I have to keep moving around because Uber will penalize me if I stay too long on a spot. The only other option is to go offline but that would mean you don’t even get ride prompts at all. You’re even penalised if you keep picking the same riders, I don’t know why they have that rule. For now, it’s just the conversations with the random riders that make it enjoyable.”
Safety on the job
Nnenna has a 3-year-old daughter being cared for by her mum. Has anyone expressed concern for her safety in this line of work?
“It was my friends that were afraid for me when I told them of my intention to start. I had to promise them I would close 5 p.m daily but I don’t get home until 10 p.m because one, I love to drive and two, the money I make from 5 a.m to 5 p.m isn’t anything at all. I feel safe in my car.”
Twice in the first two days, Nnenna arrived her riders’ destinations to find she never hit the ‘start trip’ button! Thankfully, the riders were reasonable enough and paid her what Uber estimated as the trip fare before she arrived.
While Taxify takes 15% of her daily earnings and Uber, even more, Nnenna looks forward to meeting people and building relationships that will help her earn more as a driver.
“I picked a passenger a few days back who said he’d have hired me for an out-of-state trip (to Ekiti) that Saturday if I had an SUV. He’d usually pay N70,000 for that trip. Imagine if I have opportunities like that? Right now, it’s Taxify and Uber for me.”