Jake Owen completed his software engineering bootcamp with HyperionDev in 2020 and after graduation, he went straight into a 6-month internship with a startup called SapphireGem Tech. More recently, he has decided to pursue his entrepreneurial passion through his own venture: a startup called Not-UberEats.
Jakes shares his thoughts and insights on his journey so far.
My name is Jake Owen and I completed a 6 month software engineering bootcamp with HyperionDev in 2020. I have been coding now for roughly 18 months and I’ve discovered I love learning about new technologies. I find myself constantly generating ideas for things to develop using tech. I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and have had a go with different startups. However I have realised that the world is full of problems and injustices, and that these are the areas worth focusing on. I feel a good business is not solely concerned with profits, but rather people: it prioritises people and their wellbeing over profit. This is the kind of business I want to be involved in.
My latest venture is Not-UberEats. This is a directory that lists all the restaurants in Cape Town offering independent delivery or pick up options. The concept was conceived as a result of enterprises like UberEats and Mr Delivery charging restaurants a steep 30% commission fee on every order made through their platforms. We wanted to create something to circumvent these high fees and help restaurants sustain their income during the pandemic. In the process, this helps stimulate the already struggling South African economy. That was the thinking behind, ‘Not-UberEats’. The overall goals being to make a difference and support local vendors.
The site was originally built by my business partner, Randy Singh using Gatsby, Contentful CMS and hosted on Netlify. For styling he used the React Bootstrap library. I set it up in South Africa and now we have not-ubereats.co.za. I am constantly going to Randy for help with the site and he is always incredibly kind, patient, and happy to help. I owe a huge thanks to him for all he has done.
We have approximately 60 restaurants in our directory with more being added all the time. Within our first month we managed to get over 1000 visits on the site. A large portion of these users came simply via word of mouth, with the rest generated from a very basic Facebook campaign we ran for a week.
The journey so far has been challenging and fascinating. It has taught me so much about these new technologies and has given me a good grasp of the full stack process. Every day there is unchartered territory to be explored in this industry . An added bonus has been the wonderful response from the tech community and the encouragement from our peers and users. Many people have reached out to connect and I’ve loved meeting so many awesome people within the tech world.
That being said, any new venture also comes with its challenges. Our challenge currently is figuring out the way forward for Not-UberEats. At present, it is a non-profit and we are looking for a way to maintain this approach while ensuring it is also sustainable. We will keep working on and improving the site and we need to find a way to fund this. As a result we are exploring opportunities for investors and startup capital to make this dream a reality and become a proper NPO.
The absolute best advice I can offer to someone wanting to embark on a project like this is: just start. Build a basic version and get it online to gauge how people respond to it. This is a great way of measuring how viable the project is and how it will be received. A surprising takeaway from this journey has been to see how, if you build something and put it online, people all over the world will check it out. And if they like it, they will actually begin to use the product or service. Having said that you won’t know this unless you just get going!
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