What Are We Going To Do About These Pemex Ripoffs?

Fight back with this app! That’s what we’re going to do, by golly!
BY: DUSTY RHODES

Randy Cruz had a bad feeling about the gasoline purchase he had made at a station in Mérida last year, thinking he had been ripped off and sold more fuel than he’d paid for.

When he shared his experience with friends Sánchez and Pedro Silvente, asking what mightbe done to determine whether the gas station was stealing from they laughed, because they had already designed a prototype smart phone app to fight back.

They said one of their school projects had been to design a device that measured how much gas was pumped into a tank.

Sánchez and Silvente, physical and mechanical engineers, respectively, built a meter that is inserted into the filler neck of your gas tank and connected to a simple mobile app that measures the amount of fuel actually delivered. It was very basic and archaic, but it worked.

It was then that Zenzzer — a name derived from “sensors that give certainty” — was born, a mobile app that would help consumers detect in real time when gas pumps ripped them off.

Cruz, who has a degree in marketing, recognized the project’s potential and quit his job two months later, while Sánchez and Silvente continued their college studies.

The three Autonomous University of Yucatán alumni continued working on the Zenzzer project, working from their computers and, with an initial investment of 500 pesos, buying a gas tank from a junkyard to use for  testing.

Zenzzer got some initial exposure to investors through an entrepreneurs’ forum organized by the Finance Secretariat of Yucatán, which providedprojectexhibition space.

“We attended with our super basic prototype, a video and an animation,” said.

As a result, the project garnered someandlater travelled to Mexico City to meet with eight possible investors. But only one showed interest; others said thewas impractical and unviable.

Undeterred, the team had its project valued by crowdfunding platform Play Business at 5.8 million pesos (US $314,000). The three young entrepreneurs gave up% of their business in order to get the opportunity to raise 700,000 pesos — with a 45-day deadline — through the crowdfunding site. Investors inproject would equityreturn.

During a personal trip to Monterrey, Cruz met some people interested in the project, ending up findingsingle backer to invest 320,000 pesos.

With that boost, the 700,000-peso goal was reached by33.

This major milestone gave the Zenzzer developers the opportunity to hire three more people and pay themselves. Five months later, inn May of this year, the beta phase of the project was ready.

During a second crowdfunding campaign, this time at Fondeadora, the team raised an additional 350,000 pesos. Backers who pledged 1,500 pesos or more — the cost of the device — will be the first to receive oneupon its commercial release.

Zenzzer has also teamed up with mobile phone ride-hailing service Uber to test the device in real-world conditions, and with the Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco), whichreceive reports of abuses bystations.

Cruz, Sánchez, and Silvente are now looking for more investors before entering the national production stage, and expect to release the device and the mobile app before the end of the year.

We can hardly wait, and will be first in line for the gadget. It will go nicely with aother app that’s currently in development, this one is a crowd sharing of information on gas stations that are rip offs. So, detect it and then report it.