WHEN Frank Nmezi needed to rack up time behind the wheel in a bid to get his driver’s licence, time and money were against him.
His parents both worked and had other younger children to look after. Private lessons were costly and it wasn’t easy to find an instructor at suitable hours.
“It’s 120 hours of driving, which is a lot, and you’re mostly trying to do that at the weekend, when it’s busy,” says Mr Nmezi, 20, a nursing student and Newcastle resident who emigrated to Australia from Nigeria eight years ago.
Raising the issue with his friends Roy Kadira and Plynish Matara he realised he was not alone, and the trio set about developing an app to connect learner drivers with driving instructors and supervisors who could provide free or low cost driving tuition. “We wanted to come up with something like Uber to help learner drivers have easy access to instructors,” he says.
The men tried to get a loan for the app’s development but hit a brick wall before they were referred to Hunter Futurepreneurs, a free business mentoring program that assists people to build business ideas.
The program’s entrepreneurship facilitator Cheryl Royle was supportive of the Learner Driver Hack App and helped the men apply for funding under the NSW government’s Youth Employment Innovation Challenge, which backs ideas that help young people find work. The trio won their pitch and $30,000 and are now in a 12-week business incubation lab in Sydney.
Drive Connex has an app prototype and as part of a pilot program is seeking learner drivers and driving instructor volunteers to assist. To help contact firstname.lastname@example.org.