Ayanda Dladla is a young man from KZN, who was raised by his Grandmother. He is an entrepreneur, who is set to disrupt the car wash industry. He saw a gap, and one step at a time, he is attempting to bridge it. We spoke to him;
BD: Please tell us about your upbringing
AKD: I am a first born with 1 brother and 1 sister. I was born in Nkandla KZN on the 27th of January 1988 and lived with my Grandmother and brother while my parents were trying to make a living for us in Durban. My father bought his own house in 1999 and my brother and I moved to Durban to join him. From there I went to Zimisele Primary School and Umlazi Comtech High School both based in Umlazi and eventually moved to UKZN Howard College to study Computer Engineering.
BD: What kind of a family or household did you grow up in?
AKD: I grew up in a loving home with both parents until my father passed away in 2011. We weren’t a well off family but we never went to bed hungry nor did we ever sleep without a roof over our heads. Everything was good until my father lost his job in 2004. He however did not stop trying. He took on a lot of “piece jobs” to make sure the bond was covered and we were taken care of. My mother also looked for work to assist at home and that is how we got by. In 2005 I got myself a bursary that paid all my matric fees and bought all my meals and uniform so I had a very good year in Matric.
BD: What were your school days like?
AKD: My school days were very nice I must say. I was one of those “clever” kids at school but I doubt I was that clever. I simply worked hard. In Grade 10, I got into weekend classes at Protec where we did Maths, English and Physics throughout the year and I never missed a single weekend of school. In Grade 11, I got into a Metroplolitan program called Actuaries on the Move which was one of the best programs. It was for Maths, Phsysics and English. I was in Actuaries on the move for 2 years and in Matric I attended school Monday to Sunday, normal school from Monday to Friday, Actuaries on the Move on Saturday for 6 hours and extra matric classes at school throughout the year. I enjoyed Maths and Physics to the extent that I sometimes used to assist my teacher to take a break and teach her English class. I also created study groups for after school. This helped me a lot because I got myself 4 A’s that included Maths, Physics, Technical Drawing and Electronics and 2 B’s for IsiZulu and English and lastly a C for Afrikaans.
BD: After completing high school, did you study further?
AKD: Yes I studied Computer Engineering at UKZN Howard College. My Varsity years were also good, due to my good results. I got myself a good bursary that paid for everything for 4 years. However, University was not as much of a breeze as I would have liked it to be. I took an entire 6 years to complete a 4 year degree but, nonetheless, I completed my studies and found myself a very good job.
BD: How did the idea of wanting to own your business come about?
AKD: I had always wanted to learn to develop Software and that was and still is my passion. So in 2014 I put together a team of my friends to just build something, anything. At the time I was living with my brother and as we were brainstorming when the idea of a mobile car wash came from my brother. We realised we were always spending a lot of time at a car wash, standing in long queues constantly regardless of where we went. Everyone in the team though thought this idea was almost impossible to achieve and hence I ended up being left alone with it. I decided to take it up and do it. It was the perfect project to solve this issue of long queues at car washes and being able to wash anywhere and it was also a perfect project for me to learn to build mobile applications as I always wanted. As I was building everything alone, it took me an entire year to release the very first version of Mowash only in Android. People loved it so much that I had to learn to do it on iOS and website as well.
BD: How has the entrepreneurship journey been?
AKD: My journey of entrepreneurship has been rather an interesting one. Because people loved Mowash so much, I ended up leaving my permanent job in February 2017 after 5 years of working as a Control and Automation Engineer for SAB and went to build a full version of Mowash. At the time I had no children and my car was paid off. In the first week of March, my first week after leaving work I found out I was going to have my first child. I had so many regrets but thought there had to be a reason why I found out a week later. In the following week I found out that we were actually expecting two children because it was twins. Now with so many responsibilities I thought well I have 5 years of experience as an Engineer and I now know how to develop apps so I started a Software Development company called Runtime Solutions which is a Software Development company specializing in Mobile Apps and in food and beverages industry doing Control and Automation. Runtime Solutions has been a perfect tool to sustain me and most of the money I make on it, I invest on Mowash my first baby. Runtime Solutions has grown and I am lucky to get projects. It has assisted me in building Mowash. Building a mobile application is a long process, the best apps take an average of 7 to 11 years to get to the million dollar status and I can see Mowash getting there. I am taking it one day at a time and Runtime Solutions has done a lot to keep me going, even though my focus is sometimes split between other projects and Mowash it is for a good reason because I do not need to go back to permanent employment.
BD: So the Mowash APP comes in the finest tradition of disruptor solutions! ?
AKD: It came about due to the frustration of long queues and sitting at a car wash doing nothing. Not only do you as a user have to drive to a carwash but you also have to sit there looking at cars being washed. This is the time one could be using to rest, play with kids for example, spend quality time with family or visit friends. It was these reasons that the idea of Mowash was simply the ONE for me. It made perfect sense to tackle and solve this problem.
The biggest spin Mowash is bringing to the car wash industry is that users do not have to go to a car wash, they can wash anywhere and at any time. Not only do we no longer have to drive and queue at the car wash but now we also no longer have to sit there doing nothing. People can now wash at work, at home, in a mall, by the side of the road, anywhere all through a few touches on a mobile device. Users do not need to store numbers, call with their airtime, and arrange meetings with untrusted people. Mowash takes all the problems of car owners away and gives you power in the palm of your hands. With Mowash you also know where your washers are from and you can always track who washed your car when you booked.
BD: What are some of the challenges you faced when creating the app?
AKD: Mowash is the very first app that I created. The first version was hard, I was employed full time and every day, I was working to build the app. Prior to Mowash I knew nothing about building apps. So the first version took me a full year and it was released in September 2016 only on Android with very few features. The iOS version was first launched in 2018 February because I took 2017 to train myself and add important features such as a payment system on the app. A complete version on both Android and iOS was released in June 2018 and that is the version currently in production. I am still building it and putting more features to make car owners’ lives better.
BD: Besides the fact that Mowash is accessible at the click of a button, what other unique features does Mowash possess?
AKD: An incredible inspection report for car disc expiry status, low tyre pressure inspection, faulty lights and oil leaks to ensure user safety and peace of mind because you will not get unnecessary fines for faulty lights or expired disc. An easy to use payment system is built-in on the app. You get alerts if the car disc expires or is close to expiry date and alerts when your driver’s license expires. The new version launching in January has even more cool features.
BD: Who is your target market?
AKD: Our target market is higher LSM individuals, the busy individuals living in urban areas, women because there are many challenges (safety) women face when going to car washes. Celebrities, again because of the many challenges (busy schedule) they face when going to a car wash and elderly people.
BD: How do you deal with criticism?
AKD: People will always criticize you no matter what you do. What I do is try to understand the criticism from the view of the person criticising. If there is anything to learn from it I learn that lesson and improve myself and If there is nothing to learn or useful to take from it I simply ignore it and focus to positive things in life.
BD: What is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
AKD: For me the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur is seeing people using your product or service. Seeing that and seeing the value you bring to people far outweighs the amount of money one gets paid for it.
BD: Where to from here?
AKD: Mowash just got into an incubation program. In the next year we plan to expand and be available in the whole of South Africa. After that we plan to enter global grounds. Mowash is built to operate on a global scale with our major focus being the African Market. Our biggest version thus far is launching at the end of January next year and we will take things step by step from there with the Mowash team.