Best of 2022: best friend duo driving advertising on two wheels

Best friend duo Elan Band, 29, and Jon Berkowitz, 28, started their business by signing up delivery drivers outside fast-food outlets. Picture: Supplied

Best friend duo Elan Band, 29, and Jon Berkowitz, 28, started their business by signing up delivery drivers outside fast-food outlets. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 30, 2022


Johannesburg – One of the positive by-products of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the boom in online grocery shopping and individuals using food delivery apps such as Uber Eats and others.

It was predicted by some that the boom would not last long after the pandemic ended and this has been proven to be true in most European markets, but the South African market seems to be bucking the trend.

This has led to a demand for motorcycles, scooters, and drivers to meet the growing demand for their services, providing much-needed employment for many.

Now the roads are flooded with delivery motorcycles and motorists will surely have noticed the interesting adverts attached to the delivery boxes on the back of these motorcycles.

There is a good chance that the advertisement you are seeing was put there by MotionAds.

MotionAds was started by two young entrepreneurs who had spotted potential in delivery bike advertising and built an advertising tech company that digitally connects brands with micro-enterprises on two wheels while also providing social impact by creating financial value.

Before lockdown, Jon Berkowitz, 28, and Elan Band, 29, started their business by signing up delivery drivers outside fast-food outlets with clipboards and landed their first campaign with just four motorbikes. Their business has since evolved into an innovative app that can track motorbike advertising.

The app delivers measurable campaigns to brands, but also pays drivers an extra income for having their delivery box branded – and even rewards them for better driving behaviour.

The duo are best friends and are passionate about entrepreneurship, media, and technology. Their idea for movable billboards was conceptualised in 2018 while sitting in traffic discussing the potential of cars as viable advertising platforms.

“We debated what a waste that people don’t advertise on cars and a few months later we decided to act on it. We initially approached students as a way for them to earn extra income but many didn’t have good cars. We also couldn’t track their driving journeys, so we approached Uber to use their cars, but it wasn’t a viable option at the time,” says Band.

This did not deter the pair, however, and they went back to the drawing board to try to figure out a workable solution.

Branding a car is an intricate and expensive exercise so they began researching bikes as an option.

In the concept phase in 2019, Band pitched the idea to a pizza company of branding other scooters with his logo to give the perception of more pizzas being delivered.

“The next day he agreed to four branded bikes and MotionAds was born,” says Band.

Building a solid client base took considerable time to achieve but their success with their initial client and other clients proved that the two budding entrepreneurs were on to a good idea.

“The pizza company, and two other companies we signed, kept renewing as they saw the return on their investment,” said Band.

At the time, MotionAds was just a side hustle. Band had just completed law school and was readying himself for a career in London, while Berkowitz, with a marketing and tech background, was running a lead generation business.

In July 2019, with the continual renewal of contracts by their clients and more prominent brands also coming on board, they decided to give MotionAds a proper go and made the decision to devote their energies to the company full-time.

While the uptake in new business was slower than expected, the pair took this time to fine-tune their business model, and more importantly, refine their tech.

This proved to be a master stroke as when the lockdown was imposed it paid off.

“March 2020 was the real turning point for their business. The only way to get in front of the customer was via delivery bikes as people were under lockdown for those initial weeks, or didn’t want to leave their homes,” said Band.

By this time, MotionAds was scalable, business was on the up and more high-profile clients were now keen on using their services.

“We had gone through our product development and lots of trial and error. In the beginning, it took us eight hours to onboard and wrap four bikes with the advertising. Now we do over 200 bikes in five days.”

“We went from working with 100 drivers, manually signing them up on street corners, and tracking campaigns on excel sheets. We now have over 2000 drivers on our app. We have signed brands such as Vodacom, Pick n Pay, Hollard, and Nedbank,” said Band.

The company has recently embarked on a partnership with food delivery giants Uber Eats, an exciting prospect for the young entrepreneurs. It’s a move that will see it scale to over 1000 drivers in the coming months.

“Working with Uber Eats will unlock huge growth potential for our business, and thousands more drivers. We will have access to highly rated drivers working with Uber Eats. This will enable us to seamlessly increase our capacity to run more campaigns, with more delivery drivers, across Africa,” said Band.

Berkowitz stresses that they aren’t just two guys selling advertising on motorbikes. Their product provides tangible information and feedback.

“Our innovation lies in technology. We have built unique tech-enabled systems and apps to deploy branded delivery bikes to targeted suburbs, track how far drivers travel and how many hours they spend on the road. This is summarised in a digital dashboard for clients, giving them real data and tangible results for their spend.”

MotionAds technology has created an innovative and disruptive advertising platform, while also giving back to the drivers they work with, thus creating value.

The company currently works with an average of 500 drivers per month and has paid out over R3 million to drivers in nearly four years.

“The amount drivers earn varies depending on the type of campaign, which can range from bike branding to in-home flyer or product sample drops and convoy or driver-powered activations.”

Riders with bikes branded by MotionAds. Motorcyclists can supplement their income by having their bikes branded. Picture: Supplied

Band highlights that they have also been able to use tech to solve problems within the business.

“Driver behaviour on the roads is always a concern for brands, so we launched a driver incentive scheme that we track. The better they drive, the more they can earn, and we have noticed a shift in driver behaviour thanks to our shared-value model that helps them maximise their time on the road safely.”

MotionAds anticipates huge growth for the ‘moveable billboards’ industry.

“Grocery and delivery industries continue to invest in their online offerings, and this will grow the on-demand delivery gig economy. We believe the platform we’ve created is a win-win for advertisers and drivers. Clients have seen the benefits while we empower these micro-enterprises on two wheels to earn more revenue,” concludes Berkowitz.

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