Scooter: Meet the SA man behind the company that plans to rival Uber

Over the last few weeks, many South Africans have come across tweets showcasing an upcoming local ride-sharing app, we spoke to the man behind the service.


Fezile Dhlamini is a young South African businessman who not only has big goals, but also knows exactly how and when he wants to achieve them. So far, he is on track with many of them. With Uber dominating the South African ridesharing market, Scooter is coming in to shake things up.

What is Scooter?

Scooter is a South African founded and owned ride-sharing service that is set to launch before the end of 2018. While it will offer trips through an app just like Uber and Taxify does, the business has a number of key differences.

The scooters themselves are electric. No fuel means the carbon footprint is minimal and the vehicles only have a top speed of 60kph. If you don’t want to call a Scooter with a driver you are even able to purchase one of the vehicles yourselves.

Electric ride-sharing and vehicle sales at the same time, all from a proudly South African company.

Fezile Dhlamini: The man behind the Scooter

To find out more about his backstory, we spoke to Dhlamini to get all the extra juicy details about his plans for Scooter and his history with Uber and Taxify.

Self-described as being born and bred in Soweto before being exported to the suburbs, Dhlamini was always a top achiever at some of the finest schools in Gauteng. When he did eventually end up at university, however, the lifestyle took its tole.

Arriving at Rhodes University to study towards a law degree, distractions popped up in various forms. Dhlamini worked as a radio DJ and producer at the university’s student-run radio station.

“Because of everything that I was doing, I failed. The learning that one can take from rhodes is that too much fun is a bad thing.”

As 2011 rolled on, he ended up at the University of Zululand but lasted just two weeks due to accounting being taught in Zulu. From there it was a few months of working at a local Joburg radio station for free. Dhlamini even remembers how he had to sleep in the studio after his late-night show was completed.

The determination for a degree was there, though. After a few more years, the degree in strategic corporate communication was completed at the University of Johannesburg

Uber rejection

After working as a marketer and brand ambassador for the next few years at companies like Mango Airlines and Monster Energy Drink, Dhlamini realised he had ideas that needed to be shared with the correct professionals.

After numerous job applications to Uber and Taxify went unanswered, Dhlamini grabbed the bull by the horns and visited Uber’s office in Joburg. After being mistaken for someone applying to be a driver, he presented his ride-sharing ideas to the Uber office manager. He was told to send an email, he still never heard anything back.

If no one wanted to use his ideas, he would use them himself.

By the end of 2015, Scooter was in the pipeline, initial partners and funders didn’t work out but things slowly began taking shape. A trip to Sweden to find the perfect electric scooters really got things into gear.

“If you look at the market research and are trying to find what vehicle is the next big thing, you see the petrol cars are dying. It’s now, it’s not 100 years from now, it really is right now.”

An electric dream for SA

One of the most encouraging comments from our chat with Dhlamini came when he proudly explained his goal to launch a factory in SA to produce the electric vehicles.

The Scooter boss highlighted how a R1 billion investment from the public or private sector could lead to a factory that would create jobs for five to ten thousand people. A South African factory producing electric vehicles is also one of Dhlamini’s personal goals

While that particular goal is still a while off, Dhlamini has asked South Africans to believe in the ride-sharing side of Scooter. Due to the vehicles being fuel free, Scooter will be “30%” cheaper than Uber. Whether you need a trip to the shops or the airport, Scooter could be your future go-to app.