Have you and your car ever been stranded by the side of an Alberta road, waiting hours for help to arrive?
Not everyone has your typical roadside assistance, said Temi Okes, co-founder of Calgary-based Road Aider, along with Lavender Nakatiko.
“Basically, you have to go online and look for service providers,” said Okes.
He said there are a couple of problems with this: One, the time it takes to find a provider. Two, the uncertainty around when they’ll actually arrive to help.
Okes’ own experience helped turn the ignition on his own idea to help others.
“After my own situation, I realized I had to create a platform to solve this problem for many other people,” he said.
Okes and his team have developed the Road Aider app that can instantly connect someone with a service provider to help on the side of the road. It’s on-demand roadside assistance.
That’s what sets his company apart, he said.
“Our main competitive advantage is the fact that we are digital,” he said. The competition requires a phone call, text messages, whereas you can get help immediately with a smartphone or tablet through Road Aider.
Providing service, but also marketing, too
Okes said that their main goal is to connect people who need help, with the providers who can offer assistance.
He said they already have a large volume of roadside help providers linked into the system. They see value in it because it’s a tool to help drive clients their way.
“We’re creating a sales channel for them to make more money without people advertising or marketing themselves,” he said.
How it works is fairly straightforward. Log on to the Road Aider account and find the nearest provider and their estimated time to offer help. Users can lock in that help.
It dispatches the nearest one, right to the user’s location.
And while they don’t guarantee that service is fast, Okes said you’ll be connected with the closest help available.
Okes said the biggest advantage of taking part in Platform Calgary’s Junction program was the filling in of gaps.
One of those gaps was clearly framing the problem they were trying to solve. It was to connect providers with people who needed roadside help. And to do it quickly and efficiently.
But, they realized it could be more.
“We realize that we’re solving problems for other industries as well,” Okes said.
“Not just for people with roadside assistance. There’s a reason we’re getting calls from people to move cars – auction companies, delivery companies… just moving a product from one place to another.”
The focus will remain on roadside assistance, however. Okes said they’ll build that out with the eye on expansion into other areas – both service-wise and geographically.
When we talked to Okes, it was just prior to Alberta’s predictable snowfall.
“Right now, we’ve just started and we’re getting five, six, sometimes 10 calls a day,” he said.
“It’s not even snowing yet.”