Neil du Preez

Chief executive, Mellowcabs

The premise behind Mellowcabs is simple: 80% of all urban vehicle trips are shorter than 4km, which is (if you really think about it) an extremely inefficient use of fuel-burning cars.

Mellowcabs, on the other hand, are micro vehicles (electric mini-cabs) that provide convenient, low-cost and eco-friendly transport. They’re the brainchild of chief executive Neil du Preez, a serial entrepreneur, startup enthusiast and ex-Kruger National Park guide.

Thanks to Mellowcabs, Du Preez has been a speaker at the World Bank’s Climate Innovation Centre, the South African Sustainability Conference, Microsoft’s BizSpark program, the Durban Innovation Summit and more. He’s the recipient of numerous awards including the U-Start Africa competition and Johannesburg Green City Start-up. Forbes magazine listed Mellowcabs as one of the seven most innovative companies in Africa, and Du Preez received the Global Citizen award, presented in Puebla, Mexico in October last year.

“I’ve always been really interested in public transport systems, and what it can mean for individuals and the economy. Growing up in South Africa we didn’t have access to public transport. Then, after living abroad for a few years I started seeing transit systems in a new light. Mobility is a precondition for economic growth: mobility for access to jobs, education, health, and other services. Mobility of goods is also critical to supply world markets in our globalised economy,” says du Preez.

Mellowcabs manufactures and operates new, electric mini-cabs that provide on-demand, eco-friendly and affordable taxi and transport services in cities. They’re designed for urban commuters who need taxi services in cities. They’re the opposite of meter cabs and large, privately owned cars that can be expensive, inconvenient and massively polluting.

“I’m really interested in public transport planning and management, new urban transport and thinking around smart cities. I love design, especially functional design and hardware start-ups. Product design for Africa is of particular interest,” he adds.

Mellowcabs is not just an innovation for Africa: du Preez has expansion plans for Europe and Asia as well as pilot projects lined up in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, India “and a few other cool places,” he adds.

“Mellowcabs is my pride and joy, and I believe that it could change the world.” — Tiana Cline

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