How Ma3Route ventured into crowd sourcing to make money
When Ma3Route was in its initial stages, crowd sourcing was still a foreign concept which made it hard to get potential clients to buy into the idea.
When the handle first appeared on Twitter in May 2012, Ma3route looked like any other social media account. Nearly 10 years later, that handle represents a company that is followed by 1.3 million people and regularly posts traffic updates.
Ma3Route was founded by tech entrepreneur Laban Okune, who, after returning from abroad, found it difficult to navigate the city due to unpredicted traffic snarl ups.
The idea behind the development of Ma3route was simply the need to inform Kenyans, especially those in Nairobi, on the traffic situation in the infamously congested capital city. The thinking was that drivers on the road needed updates that would enable them make informed decisions on the convenient route to use.
Anne Manza has been with Ma3route for the past seven years.
“So, ‘Ma3’ is Matatu and ‘Route’ is any route or any direction you’re going to take. So how we came up with the concept behind Ma3route is wanting to have a central place where this information can be easily accessed by people new to Nairobi, and people who are very familiar with Nairobi or other towns,” says Anne Manza who is the head of Digital Content and Advertising at Ma3Route.
Online crowdsourcing was still a fairly foreign concept when Ma3route was in its initial stages, and this made it hard for the company to gain a following in the early stages.
Just like any other startup, getting potential clients to buy the idea was not easy.
Ma3route makes money through advertising which involves posting branded content on their social media handles, especially Twitter. The company also sends traffic alerts as well as transport-related data on SMS to clients for a fee.
For instance, it would cost you at least Ksh50,000 a month to advertise with Ma3route, and that amount can go all the way up to half a million shillings. The cost depends on the client’s needs, the scope of the work and the financial muscle. On the other hand, their customers pay Ksh3 for every SMS alert they receive on traffic updates.
It took over two years of trial and error to make money.
“You want to prove that your concept is actually viable. So, you do a lot of pro bono work to test the platform as well. And actually, make the interested person or the person you’re pursuing to see value,” she says.
Other local main traffic update apps include Kenyan Traffic, Waze and Google Maps alerts while globally, some of the top traffic online apps in 2022 include, The Traffic Spotter, Inroute Route Planner, Apple maps, MapQuest, Mapfactor Navigator and others.
With the growth of influencer social media marketing, so is the increase in competition, and the question is, how is the company managing this and how does the future of this kind of business look like?
“I do appreciate the competition that’s coming in. And it’s making us want to really see how else we can gain an edge over the competition. It’s really encouraging to see people step up content creation with influencer marketing,” she adds.
At the moment, the company has a team of seven staff who manage over 2,000 tweets every day. They have managed to break-even by now expanding to other revenue making sources apart from Twitter including navigation maps, traffic SMS alerts and transport related data collection for organizations.