I’m yet to meet Lara, i must confess, but people who have met her have really nice things to say about her. Like Victor Ilo, a corp member serving in Lagos and a frequent user of the app. He wrote a whole article reviewing the app and explaining how to use it. I thought it would make for a good read. Enjoy!
You Must Have Met Lara.ng
You should have met Lara. The AI for public transport transit directions and fare quotes. First launched in Lagos, now in Abuja and plans to launch in some other states. I was first introduced to Lara.ng in 2018 and I loved it. First of its kind in Nigeria and a lifesaver. I mean, how many people would think that traveling within Lagos could be made easier with AI? With all the hype Lagos has about “shining your eyes”, Lara has made “JJC” unnoticeable. Innovative, I must say.
Created in 2017 by CEO Samuel Odeloye, Nnamdi Nwanze, and co-founder Ladi Ojora, the AI chatbot has gone through intense start-up trials. Lara first began on WhatsApp but got shut down. At the point, it was already experiencing fantastic growth. Users were sharing Lara’s contacts in droves. WhatsApp shut the bot down because of their monopoly on bots on their platform. The Lara team then had to regroup and found Lara.ng in less than two weeks. Lara has now been able to reach about 100,000 users in less than 2years and has the potential to multiply the number exponentially in a short time.
Simply described, Lara is an AI chatbot for public transport transit directions and fare quotes. The app is a WhatsApp-like chatbot with huge storage of transport data within Lagos and now Abuja. The WhatsApp look makes it familiar and easy to use. Although this gives it a somewhat plain look, the app has some interesting features.
How to use Lara
As a user, I am impressed with its simplicity in usage. In three steps, you are armed with the bus directions and fare quotes needed for your journey.
- Step 1 – Download the Lara App on any Appstore or go to www.lara.ng in your browser.
- Step 2 – Type in your present location and your destination in this format, “from Oshodi to Ikeja”.
- Step 3 – Give Lara a second to bring out your bus direction and fares. If not satisfied with the direction, there is the option to request an alternative.
One unique thing about million-dollar innovations is that they always solve a human problem. They are usually a necessity in their immediate environment. Lara, for one, solves a very important problem, transportation. The behemoth transport problem in Lagos is one the government has not been able to solve or has been reluctant about. Although ride-hailing services have contributed their bit, there is still a loop that Lara fills effectively. Lara, rich with city transport data, helps users to navigate the city with bus directions and fares readily available.
The Lara team completed a Facebook start-up program earlier this year where they received about US$20,000 in grant. This July, they signed a deal with Google Nigeria. The deal with Google Nigeria explains that a traffic tab would be added to Google Maps which contains a Danfo mode to aid people to see the buses to take, directions and estimated fare. This finally gives Lara some befitting accolade
Have you used Lara.ng? What’s do you think of her?