By Sinazo Mkoko
Kimberley Taylor is a young, tech savvy female entrepreneur who is making waves through invaluable technology applications in the logistics space. She is the brains behind Loop – an adaptable, intuitive delivery management platform that empowers companies through enabling them to cleverly optimise and scale their delivery systems. She wrote an algorithm that has helped to solve some real-world problems in the logistics space. This platform has enabled South Africa’s largest nationwide grocery business to deliver within 60 minutes.
A total game changer for businesses, Loop connects delivery companies with all the players in their operation, from suppliers to customers. It allows dispatch managers to make delivery decisions based on efficiency and cost, guided by data from daily operations, which Loop cleverly scrutinises so that businesses can save time and money. It’s a completely customisable app that supports each operational tier from the top down.
Firstly, please tell us about your career path that led to you starting the platform software called Loop?
I didn’t have much of a career before starting Loop. I studied Chemical Engineering and worked for about 3 months as a Chemical Engineer and part time on Loop. So basically, for the last five years out of University my career has really just been Loop.
Loop empowers companies through enabling them to cleverly optimise and scale their delivery systems. How did this idea come about?
During my third year at Wits University I had a question on a project which required me to write a Route Optimisation algorithm. Ever since then I became interested in its application in the delivery and logistics space. This curiosity led to the further understanding of the problems in the logistics world which sparked the idea to build a piece of technology that would assist in solving these problems.
You’re in an industry that is still male-dominated with only 23% of women forming part of it, please share some of the challenges you’ve encountered as a woman in tech and how you overcame them?
Some challenges may include not being taken seriously, listened to, ignored, but these are not solely linked to the tech space – probably more business in general. Other challenges have been trying to connect and build business type relationships with men (tech or any other industry). It is no fault of men but it is easier to connect man-to-man (or woman-to woman in many cases) and go for drinks, play golf etc. So, at times I have felt like I need to work a little harder to build rapport because there isn’t a natural relatedness.
I’m not sure I have overcome it completely, it’s something I am always working through, with, against… and I do it by watching and learning how others interact, putting myself in the uncomfortable situations where I need to connect and converse and slowly it becomes less scary, I reflect and get better at it the next time.
The tech sector is one sector that is always so advanced in innovations, why is it lagging behind when it comes to gender equity?
I’m not entirely sure, I think perhaps it’s not as well spoken about to young girls in high school or at university. I think women possess innate qualities that make them incredible in the tech sector. For one, I believe in building tech with empathy (a quality I see in many women in my team) is so important. You need to understand deeply the people who are going to use this piece of tech. When we build with empathy, I think products have better product market fit and solve real problems day to day.
What does your work entail at Loop?
At the moment my days are mostly spent selling, innovating on the product and leading the team. My role evolves a lot as we are growing quickly – but I would say that encompasses most of what I do.
Please touch on the importance of technology in our lives in this day and age?
I believe technology helps us make better decisions which means we utilise the resources we have better and more intelligently. This can be money, people, fuel etc. but, most importantly, the resource of time. And so ultimately, I believe technology can help in allowing us to spend more time on things that matter most, things that are fulfilling and make us happy.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I relate most with servant leadership. I believe in empowering, caring and growing the people in my team. I prefer to have my teams buy-in and inspire them to achieve any particular goal or vision.
What is your “why?”
My purpose has always been about people – serving, impacting, and empowering the people around me. I love and care deeply for the people in our country and through our technology, through employment, through different initiatives I hope that we can continue to serve and empower people to be happier, fulfilled and living out their purpose.
Do you have exciting plans for the coming year?
Always. At the moment we plan to continue to grow our team and product offering and have fun while doing it!
Do you have an inspirational message for young entrepreneurs and female business leaders out there?
Something that has resonated most with me recently again is that courage creates confidence. Sometimes we look at people and think – wow they are so confident, but many times that person actually has decided to have a moment of courage and do something hard and when you do that enough you will naturally build the confidence you seek. You don’t need to know, understand or be good at everything, you just need to decide to have small bursts or bravery in doing things that are uncomfortable.