Interview: Benji Coetzee EmptyTrips CEO, Seedstars Finalist

Benji Coetzee, Founder and CEO of EmptyTrips.
Benji Coetzee, Founder and CEO of EmptyTrips.
Benji Coetzee, Founder and CEO of EmptyTrips.

In another eye-opening interview, IT News Africa spoke to Benji Coetzee, the CEO and Founder of innovative startup, EmptyTrips.

EmptyTrips is a startup which is looking to usher in a new age of logistics. As many transporters and companies suffer from empty return legs and with shippers suffering from high costs to ship their goods from point A to B, EmptyTrips offers an alternative solution. EmptyTrip is Africa’s first online transport marketplace connecting Transporters, Brokers & Shippers. The company aims to open the market and region for trade by enabling smart transport. Using integrated systems,

Using integrated systems, EmptyTrips matches and connects spare capacity on vehicles to those who need goods transported; therefore, transporters and companies recover costs on return leg trips and shippers get to fill this space and get their goods shipped at a discounted and competitive fee. This is done by using smart algorithms to match the space needed and the space offered.

The Founder and CEO of EmptyTrips, Benji Coetzee, has nearly a decade experience in top tier Management Consulting, Banking & Insurance across a number of industries including Mining, Transport, Infrastructure Projects and Financial Services. Benji has now shifted her focus to becoming a full-time entrepreneur aiming to disrupt the African business status quo through innovative and exponential technologies.

IT News Africa spoke to Benji about the inspiration behind EmptyTrips, how the company will change the logistics industry and touch on the startups experience in the Seedstars Startup Competition.


1) What was the inspiration behind starting EmptyTrips?

Approximately 2 years ago, I was driving down the N3 from Durban passing empty trucks, rail wagons and thinking of how my consulting clients complain about expensive transport costs eating into profit margins. Applying economic theory to it simply didn’t make sense; excess supply leads to lower prices, or better-matched demand and supply leads to equilibrium… Then, I decided that something needed to be done, a smart market for transport was needed. Technology held the key

2) What are some of the challenges within the logistics field in Africa and how does EmptyTrips help combat them?

The logistics industry is very old and traditional. One of the key challenges we are facing is educating people and convincing experts that technology will assist them with reducing space wastage and costs. But we remain committed as we know this is the way of the future. We have first-mover advantage and have come this far. We will keep on pioneering!

3) Are there any security checks in place in order to ensure a good experience for all users?

Yes, there are security checks in place. All transporters go through a strict vetting process where we check their background and info supplied to us. We also use a 3 strike you are out rule, where if they violate any of the terms of the contract, 3 times and over, we take them off our system.

4) In how many African countries does EmptyTrips operate?

1 at the moment, we operate in Johannesburg and we have plans in place to go global.

5) What would winning a startup competition like Seedstars mean for your company?

Winning a competition like Seedstars would help us move into commercialisation phase, and give us the monetary boost that will help us expand the team and the reach. It will give our brand global exposure.

6) What sort of impact do you think EmptyTrips can have on the logistics industry?

The industry is faced with 30-40% inefficiency in the form of empty return legs (i.e. vehicles returning empty) if we can reduce this by half, it offers immense recovery potential – supporting a struggling industry given economic down-turn.. By using smart-mapped spaces we reduce wastage on moving vehicles to offer cost-savings. These lower transport costs, reduces the barriers to entry of products across Africa (enabling trade) and lowers inflation-linked increases for consumers in every-day products.

Furthermore, we aim to reduce the number of vehicles that are needed for transport reducing empty return legs with economic goods providing better asset utilization, leading to lower congestions, and as such, is better for the environment.

7) How do you think EmptyTrips could impact the growth of SME’s in Africa?

For smaller transporters, Emptytrips will help assist them to get on the map, as the big corporate try and monopolise the industry. Our platform helps smaller companies that have no systems in place to better utilise their assets. Because we pay our transporters within 48hours after a successful delivery, smaller companies will no longer have to stress about cash flow issues. From the shipper’s side, Emptytrips can help them lower their shipping costs/fees.

By Dean Workman