06.21.19

How Ozow is Evolving Payment Solutions

BY Walter Hayward 4 MINUTE READ

After relocating to South Africa in 2005, Frenchman Thomas Pays quickly realised that if he wanted to succeed in his career, he’d be better off starting his own business. Thomas launched and sold a few highly successful businesses – and one not-so-successful one – before landing on, what he calls, the million-dollar idea that is Ozow – an automated instant EFT and bank-to-bank payment service. Previously i-Pay, the company went through a rebranding in April to cater to a more international clientele.

I basically started as a call centre agent. [laughs] I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to lose my job and I could excel at it, having the responsibility of a wife and a new-born. I quickly progressed in the business, getting promoted to marketing manager and did extremely well. I then realised if I really wanted to succeed and grow, I would be better off starting my own business. 

I started my first company in 2007, which was a gaming agency that we grew internationally. I sold the business in 2009 and took a sabbatical. In 2010, I started our first South African venture, which was an auction website solely focused on the local market. It grew from 0 to 300 000 unique visitors, which was great for an eCommerce site in 2010. It was incredibly successful and we got to exit within the first nine months.

I then ran out of million-dollar ideas. I then thought about dating as a possible source of revenue. We launched a dating website – big mistake. Not that it was a big failure but it was a big opportunity with big partnerships. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t something I felt passionate about and so, after a year, we decided to pull the plug.

I decided to focus on what I was good at – marketing. I started a digital agency with 360-degree service for large clients and corporates in South Africa – from insurance to telecoms. Part of the goal of this agency was to find solutions we could offer the market, so we created a dev-house which would start building the tech that would enable us to better service South Africa. 

We started with an ecommerce platform, which allowed anyone to create a website under two minutes. Part of it required a plug-in payment service – this is where the idea of i-Pay was born. What was supposed to be a three-month plug-in project ended up becoming i-Pay five years later.

Is launching a business in South Africa easier than in Europe?

Absolutely. I think at the end of the day, there are two perceptions. I’m fortunate enough to come from a continent where doing business is very difficult because the market is usually oversaturated. I come with a mindset that it’s not that difficult in South Africa — I see a lot more opportunities. However, I think anyone that is from South Africa probably thinks the same of it as I think of Europe, in that every city is super competitive.

Why did you decide Ozow was the route to go?

We wanted to enable any South African to visit an ecommerce platform and start accepting payment. It would allow them to set up their website, domain name, payment structure and then go live under two minutes. 

Initially, we focused mainly on the ecommerce platform and the plug-in component was very important. There’s also the fact that with card transactions a lot of fraud happens, so we looked at it from the perspective where new merchants entering the ecommerce landscape want to be protected. With Ozow and bank-to-bank payment, you’re a lot safer than with a card. 

So what happened was that our ecommerce platform became very successful, but we started getting a lot of interest in the payment plug-in. I’ve run many businesses in the past and I understand that in order to succeed in the early stage of a startup, you need to focus on one thing if you want to execute it well and grow it quickly. This is where we made the decision to focus solely on the payment solution and discontinue all our other businesses and sell them.

Why the rebrand to Ozow?

The time is never the right to rebrand so the sooner you do it, the better. It’s like ripping off a band aid. We decided now is a good time and we’ve received great support from clients and partners. Change is good.

Ozow is a play on words. Think of all the phrases you can build around it: “Oh so fast”, “Oh so secure”, “Oh so amazing”. Part of giving back was to launch a 0% fee campaign where we want to make payments affordable for SMEs and entrepreneurs. So all new merchants signing up on Ozow will be free for up to R1 million a month which is significant enough for people to be able to grow and scale their business, and save money on their payment processing. Our core focus is more on the enterprise client and the public sector. We make our revenue through very large companies and it’s a nice way to give back in that way.

Despite i-Pay experiencing double-digit growth month-on-month, do you think that will hit a plateau soon?

We’re seeing the opposite. We’re seeing a snowball effect where January, February, March are known as quiet months for businesses – we’ve seen the opposite. We’ve seen double-digit growth month-on-month following Black Friday and the festive season. Normally, you should experience a dip but we’re seeing acceleration and bigger uptake from our clients as well as new enquiries. We’re at that stage where we’re now starting to reach critical mass and we need to start scaling the business. To date, we have about 2.5 million South Africans using us. This year, our goal is to get an extra two million users. This gives you a perspective on how the scale is happening.

What are your plans to tap into the rest of Africa?

Our five-to-10-year goal is to be present in all 52 countries of Africa. That’s our target. In Europe you have one regulation and one licence – it’s very easy for a payment company to be successful in multiple countries. In Africa, it’s 52 different regulations, licences, cultures and banks. We want to simplify that ecosystem and allow global players to transact in any African country by using our platform.
What works in South Africa might not work in Ghana or Tanzania, and this preparation in our market research and execution in adapting to that culture is what will make the difference. 


Read more in the May 2019 issue of Fast Company SA

06.18.19

Shaping the Future of In-Car Tech

BY Walter Hayward 2 MINUTE READ

Often described as the best driving sedan around, the BMW 3 Series easily stays ahead of the game. Now, the Bahnstormer from Bavaria has combined this driving pleasure with cutting edge technology by introducing version 7.0 of BMW’s Operating System including its new Intelligent Personal Assistant. With this amalgamation of excellent driving dynamics and futuristic tech, BMW is driving circles around the competition.

It’s the technology BMW drivers use the most, so why not make it the best there is? The new BMW Operating System 7.0 plays a leading role in optimising the control and display system of the 3 Series sedan with modern, digital functions geared precisely to the needs of the driver. 

The optional BMW Live Cockpit Professional comprises consistently designed, situation-linked and customisable displays on the fully-digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 10.25-inch Control Display. For intuitive and easy operation, the driver can choose from the dispaly’s touch screen interface, the iDrive Controller, the steering wheel buttons, gesture control and voice control – ensuring a user experience that is seamless in its execution.

Making its debut in the new 3 Series is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, an intelligent, digital character that responds to the prompt “Hey BMW”. One unique feature over other digital assistants is that drivers can give the assistant a name. 

The arrival of the Intelligent Personal Assistant ensures there is always a genuine BMW professional on board. It is able to explain all sorts of different functions (“How does the High Beam Assistant work?”), provide current status information (“Is the oil level okay?”) and help answer questions (“What warning messages do I have?”). 

The Intelligent Personal Assistant is, in short, the ideal co-driver and becomes particularly useful during everyday driving by responding to natural voice commands to help the driver with numerous tasks, such as enhancing productivity and on-board entertainment. The range of functions and skills available will be constantly expanded as part of regular updates, which can be carried out seamlessly on a smartphone and in-car by Remote Software Upgrade.

The BMW 3 Series Sedan has epitomised the concept of sporty driving pleasure for more than 40 years. Exuding dynamic design, agile handling, exceptional efficiency and innovative equipment features, it takes the signature characteristics of a BMW and turns the volume up several notches. 

The sedan represents not only the core of the BMW 3 Series range (of which over 15 million units have now been sold worldwide) but also the heartbeat of the BMW brand. When the first 3 Series was launched in 1975, it simultaneously brought to life a new breed of car; the sports sedan concept underpinned the rise of the 3 Series to become BMW’s most successful model – a status it retains to this day. 

Over the course of its six model generations to date, the 3 Series has been ranked the world’s biggest-selling premium car, led the way for high-performance powertrain and chassis technology and earned a reputation as a pioneer of technological innovations in the midsize segment. 

This latest edition of the car sees BMW building on the sporting tradition of the 3 Series, whose exploits in race competition have earned it so much extra kudos. The seventh generation of the sports sedan moves the game on once again in terms of driving dynamics, not to mention premium quality and innovation.


Read more in the May 2019 issue of Fast Company SA

06.13.19

Can creativity create value?

BY Walter Hayward 5 MINUTE READ

Today’s challenges require creative solutions from people who are unafraid to think differently. Glenn Gillis is the CEO of Sea Monster, a company which uses animation, games and immersion technologies – like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – to shift business and social outcomes at scale.

By using a combination of visual storytelling and games, Sea Monster provides structured ways for people to solve change management challenges, engage with customers and achieve financial education goals, just to mention a few of the big, wicked problems the company likes to help address.

“Sea Monster was born out of the restructure of a big entertainment business,” says Glenn. “We knew the future of marketing and education is about the story and voluntary engagement, and wanted to bring those skills, including the production efficiency of the entertainment industry, to bear on education and marketing. Globally, there are very few companies that combine animation and gaming in this space.”

Sea Monster has proven that animation and games are serious instruments for change within large organisations. “Eight years later we’re still around, and the quality of the narrative we’re having with clients has massively improved.

“They understand the costs better and we’re working with big businesses on real, strategic transformational processes in a way that is nuanced and story driven. We’re not seen as a hipster fringe movement – what we do is recognised as a proper part of their arsenal to drive their business goals.”

Fast Company SA sat down with Glenn to discuss Sea Monster’s journey and his insights into running a wildly creative company.

What has been the most innovative project Sea Monster has worked on?

Pick n Pay Supercards are back and out to educate and delight kids once again. This new iteration is based around the Cricket World Cup, and provides hours of educational content and learning about the game so many of us love. We’re very excited to be involved and are particularly pleased that the Women’s Team has been given great prominence.

Super Cards is all about collecting, teaching, sharing and showing off how much you know about the game. The app (available on The App Store and the Play Store) uses AR to bring the players to life in 3D, there is a great quiz plus a new mini cricket game that pits players against the best men’s and women’s bowlers to see how many runs you can get.

We think it’s great that education is being seen as a business opportunity. Kids get hours of entertainment and learn as they go, and Pick n Pay will hopefully be as happy with the business results as they were last time, while using Super Cards to deliver great value their customers. In tough times, this is what people are after. The value Pick n Pay is providing is in more than just price reductions, it’s hours of entertainment as a reward for their customers’ loyalty.

What is your opinion on new AR/VR tech and its business applications?

The technologies are amazing but they do not solve problems in and of themselves. AR is a much more mature technology – we’ve been using it for eight years now. VR is only just starting to emerge – even though we have industrial applications for it, for example, the VR experience we developed for ArcelorMittal that tests its employees for a fear of heights.

With AR, the technology is ready, the devices are out there but businesses are the limiting factor – they don’t yet fully understand how AR can drive their goals. We believe AR is going to fundamentally change the way we connect the real world with the digital world. It’s not a passing fad but rather a new way to think about everything from brands to social interaction.

Do you think creativity and business can go hand-in-hand?

What’s important to remember is that many people equate creativity with artistic ability, and being able to express yourself artistically is a powerful form of creativity. But for me, creativity is making non-obvious connections and seeing patterns between differing concepts.

Businesses today need creativity more than ever. Large corporations often sit with all the ingredients they need to fundamentally bake a new cake but ultimately fail to do so. It’s about saying ‘imagine if we could connect this capability to that one, and deliver something meaningful to clients’. It doesn’t matter if you call it creativity or innovation – it’s about creating value for customers and shareholders, and if we can wrap that up in a visually appealing story-driven way, even better!

You need to ignite people’s imaginations. Creativity can also be found in how we use narratives to appeal to our audiences and get them to relate to characters, which then drives behaviour change. How you use new technology or even existing technologies in new ways is where it gets really interesting.

How does creativity add to a company’s authenticity?

Power is shifting nowadays because people have more connectivity and platforms to express themselves than ever before. Communication about and with brands is no longer a one-way connection. Brands need to be engaged in social media and be a part of narratives rather than dictating them. This has to be consistent – you run the risk of coming across as insincere if you aren’t.

Brands have to be authentic, they need to be more human not more corporate, which includes admitting when they make mistakes. Many of them struggle with this. A brand has always been what customers say about it when they’re not in the room but now they can amplify that across all sorts of channels. If you weren’t authentic before, you have no choice but to be so now.

What is your business ethos?

Ultimately, Sea Monster sells something that doesn’t yet exist – every knowledge/creative business does the same. We sell trust and professional credibility. We stand up in the boardrooms of the biggest banks in South Africa and say, ‘We have a sense of what you are trying to achieve, we know what impact it will have and how to drive your business goals but we don’t know exactly what that will look like’. You have to trust the process and each other, if we are to truly unlock value together.

With our company, what you see is what you get – we sell the sizzle and deliver the steak. It requires trust and open relationships. It requires us owning the issues as they come up and working through them with the client as well as internally.

Maybe I’m being naive – maybe it is a ‘hard-bargaining, nickel-and-dime’ approach that makes people wealthy but that’s not something we’re interested in. We would rather have a few clients and shift the dial on the social and business objectives they want to achieve.


Contact:
Sea Monster

www.seamonster.co.za

[email protected]

021 461 0365

06.06.19

Automating Customer Service

BY Walter Hayward 3 MINUTE READ

Using cutting edge tech like Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, FinChatBot provides smart solutions to customer service. Instead of lengthy calls or a boring tête-à-tête, this startup puts chatbots as the first point of contact. With the aim of becoming the AI industry leader of the African continent and beyond, FinChatBot has astrong focus on data science and integrating the power of AI and machine learning into smart chatbots. Co-founder and CEO Antoine Paillusseauplans to grow the business exponentially, both across industries and international borders within the next five years.

Tell us more about your background. What led you to where you are today?

After completing my Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from EDC Paris Business School, I moved from France to South Africa to co-found TimeOne South Africa, an award-winning online marketing agency based in Cape Town. As a seasoned entrepreneur with experience in Business Strategy, Sales Management and Venture Building across both Africa and Europe, in 2016, I decided to take on more of a board advisory role in TimeOne and subsequently co-founded Far Ventures with Romain Diaz. Far Ventures is a startup incubator which fosters tech entrepreneurship in Africa by founding and growing startups that can positively impact people’s lives through technology. 

Far Ventures specialises in creating startups from scratch. We fund the first round of seed capital, recruit talented entrepreneurs to scale the business and prepare the business for its first external fundraising round. It was through Far Ventures that Romain and I co-founded and incubated Jumpin Rides, FinChatBot and accelerated Yethu. We are committed to enabling entrepreneurial talent in Africa; each venture is unique in its own right and we believe they all add significant value to South Africa. 

I took a special interest in FinChatBot, a technology solution that enables financial clients to connect with and add immediate value to its’ customers and took on the role of CEO to guide and build the business in South Africa and beyond. In just two years, FinChatBot has raised R8 million in external funding and acquired 15 top clients in the financial services industry. I am passionate about creating innovative solutions and constantly conceptualising new ways to improve FinChatBot’s offering. We currently have a team of 10 people, consisting of dynamic, highly skilled and talented developers and entrepreneurs from South Africa and Europe with experience in the South African financial industry.  

Do you think more South African businesses should integrate AI into their daily practices? 

Although AI is an extremely powerful technology that revolutionises the way we do business, we feel it is important to point out that it is still fairly new in South Africa and we are careful not to oversell the technology too soon. There is still a large gap in terms of education and policy requirements that South African businesses need to take note of before diving into how they can use AI. 

Artificial Intelligence consists of many different facets, each with unique applications. Some of the AI technologies we are looking at to improve client-facing processes via our chatbots include machine leaning, image and speech recognition, natural language processing, cyber defence, emotional recognition, biometrics, and deep learning. Technological developments happen fast, and we need to ensure we stay up-to-date and informed about their pros and cons along the way. 

How did the idea for FinChatBot come to fruition? 

We recognised that call centres are becoming increasingly inefficient, saturated and expensive, often not delivering the intended results of conversion and customer satisfaction. Following a three-month market study with a team at Far Ventures, we dedicated FinChatBot to the goal of bringing people closer to financial services with an interactive and fun experience, while enabling financial service providers to enhance customer experience and maximise business performance by saving time and money.

We bootstrapped the company for the first nine months and raised a first seed funding round of R1.6 million in November 2016 from a local business angel investor, followed by a second seed funding round of R7 million in November 2018 from Kalon Venture Partners & Mauritius-based Compass Venture Capital. 

What is the formula for successfully monetising AI software? 

Each formula is different. There definitely isn’t a one-size fits all approach for all businesses looking to monetise AI software. Our approach is based on a shared-risk model, where we enable clients the ability to integrate superior chatbot technology into their business in a relatively low-cost way and we generate income based on a percentage of commission that are closed via the chatbot. 

Our formula for success is based on establishing a long-time relationship with clients. Once we develop and launch the chatbot for their business, we go into a manage and sustain phase, whereby we monitor performance of the chatbot and consistently work to improve its performance to help our clients reach their strategic objectives.

That being said, each client is different, and the shared-risk model might not be suited to their specific needs. We work closely with our clients to understand their strategic goals and objectives and develop a payment model accordingly. 


Read more in the May 2019 issue of Fast Company SA

06.04.19

Empowering Creative Thinking

BY Walter Hayward 2 MINUTE READ

Running an entirely female creative company, Clara Armand-Delille founded ThirdEyeMedia as a way to empower women in the public relations sector. In her role as Founder and Managing Director, she coaches and mentors her team, and encourages them to up their skillset. Clara also runs her own yoga studio.

“I see myself as a role model — you have to recognise yourself in someone else in order to envisage this as an achievable goal.

“My goal is to train my team and spend as much time on their skillset as I do on coaching and mentoring about things like managing a client’s expectations, learning to say no politely, believing in themselves to give strategic advice to a client —and disagreeing with me,” she smiles.  

“Our team is basically entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs. Everyone is their own boss and I encourage the team to take on extra jobs if and when they need or want to. Realising that in such a volatile job market, freelancing with several clients is actually much safer than having a single employer.

“I think part of managing people well is empowering them, showing them that they are building themselves into valuable professionals and that their skills are highly desirable and sellable. The more generous you can be as an employer in the current job market, the better,” Clara says. “I’m a huge fan of managing with love rather than fear.”

Media and public relations have proven to be an ideal career choice for Clara as it allows her to amplify her message. “It provides me with an avenue to share my story, learnings and how, as a team, we are ensuring management practices that emphasise mindfulness, respect, knowledge sharing and professionalism.”

Her team is highly multi-lingual. The effect is an unbeatable edge in the market. “We are international from the core and the get-go.” They speak five languages in-house and source freelance professionals for the markets they don’t have the linguistic skill for. “It allows us to work in a lean and centralised way, making it much easier for our clients when they need support in multiple markets. We have synergies in-house which means we can share and replicate campaigns or stories across several markets and share learnings of things that don’t go so well,” she says.

“We offer something that simply no agency our size is able to offer. And I think that ThirdEyeMedia’s business model and set up is highly relevant to and replicable in Africa.” 


Read more in the May 2019 issue of Fast Company SA

06.03.19

Revolutionising The Coupon Industry

BY Walter Hayward 3 MINUTE READ

Co-founded in 2015 by dynamic duo Tina Fisher and Mark Bradshaw, SnapnSave is digitising the coupon industry. Positioned as “South Africa’s #1 cashback app” for both shoppers and vendors, the app allows customers to scan till slips with their phone camera and instantly start saving money on their purchases. Smartphones at the ready!

Launching a startup, and especially one that presents a new and innovative idea, is not for the faint-hearted. “While the beginning phase seems like a sprint, you must treat the journey like a marathon. And just like running a marathon, it helps to have a partner to lean on during the tough times,” says Tina. “You hit the wall and get frustrated at different times, which allows you to support one another. It’s great to have a partner who has different but complementary skills, allowing each of us to be the authority in our area of expertise.”

Mark is a CA (SA) with over 10 years’ experience with Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands in local and international markets. During his career, he worked at Union Swiss, the owners of Bio-Oil and was instrumental in their launch and success in the US market. Tina, originally from Canada, did her MBA at the University of Cambridge, and then stayed and worked in London for almost 10 years before moving to South Africa in 2012. She worked within the pharmaceutical industry for many years and her last position in the UK was as a Global Brand Manager at Pfizer. Mark, being a CA, is an expert in finance and business architecture, while Tina, having spent 15 years in marketing and sales, is the specialist in communications and operations.

THE JOURNEY

It’s been the biggest rollercoaster — with very high highs, and very low lows. “It all started with the two of us sitting in a room drawing with a piece of paper to conceptualise our idea, to today with having processed over one million till slips, R8 million in cash back, 400 000 app downloads and a staff of 20 people. It’s difficult to get off the rollercoaster and reflect on what you have achieved because as entrepreneurs, we are always chasing the next win.”

THE IDEA

In the late 2000s, Mark was instrumental in launching Bio-Oil (a South African personal care product) in the US and lived in California for a year. During his time in the States, he realised the impact that mobile phone technology and apps were having on consumer purchasing behaviour. At the same time, while living in London, Tina saw the emergence of digital coupons and tech-based vouchers, and the influence they had on consumers. The combination of these two experiences, along with the smartphone boom and South African potential, presented the perfect combination. In 2013, they started sketching out ideas and realised that South Africa’s attitude to coupons were very different than in the US or Europe. 

Using coupons or vouchers to save money, especially in-store at a till point, was seen as inconvenient and sometimes even embarrassing, regardless of how much the consumer was likely to save. Their solution? Simply “snapping a photo of your till slip” to redeem digital coupons in the privacy of your home or car would align much better with the South African psyche. 

INDEPENDENT VENDORS

SnapnSave was a consumer- facing platform for almost three years before we launched a digital rewards programme for independent vendors (people who purchase goods at wholesalers to sell to others). Our clients, multinational FMCG brands, asked if we could develop a solution to understand and influence purchasing behaviour in this sector of the retail market. We realised that there was a gap in the market for a brand loyalty rewards programme that was retailer indepen-dent. We launched this programme in June last year and it has been extremely successful. The brands love it because they have a better understanding of their loyal customers in the informal market, and the vendors love it because they receive cashback rewards for being brand loyal — regardless of where they shop. At this stage, there is very little competition in this market, which makes SnapnSave a perfect fit for brands, consumers
and vendors. 

THE FUTURE

With our corporate experience in global markets, we both know that expanding too quickly can result in a significant hit to the bottom line and cash flow if your core market and product offering is not stable. SnapnSave’s immediate short-term plans are to maximise the opportunity in South Africa and own the position as the number one cashback app for both shoppers and vendors through refining our business models and till slip Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Thereafter, we have a strong mandate to grow the business into another 20 developing markets.


Read the full article in the May 2019 issue of Fast Company SA

04.02.19

For Saving Fuel and Optimising Engines

BY Walter Hayward 2 MINUTE READ

He was nearing completion of his (uncompleted) master’s degree in the early 80s when, during a coffee break, Norman Grant, Director of Technology and Engineering at MISER Hydraulic Hybrid Technologies, was challenged to find a “world-beater” concept rather than the “usual stuff”. “That was my inspiration for developing this hybrid technology. At the time, it was a throw-away comment but I always thought: ‘Why not have a go?’”

Grant admits emission reduction was not part of the thought process at the time. “During the 80s, the quest was for better fuel consumption – after the fuel crisis of the 70s – and more power. Emission reductions have become an unintended consequence and, in more recent times, are now part of our quest, in line with the greener requirements of the world.”

MISER is a fuel-and emission-saving technology and consists of a hydraulic solution that uses a combination of braking-energy recovery, engine optimisation and refined modes such as torque suming, regenerative braking and launch assist. 

The system complements various technologies and promotes sustainable driving by dramatically improving vehicle performance and saving fuel in an excess of 40% in certain drive cycles. It also significantly reduces the emission of harmful gasses by up to 37%. 

Apart from saving fuel, emissions and cost of ownership that a MISER installation brings about, they are also one of the few technologies in engine brake-specific fuel consumption optimisation.

“Engine optimisation is of vital importance to enhance efficiency and MISER can advance the combustion process of an engine — at all loads and speeds. The technology is inherently low-cost and more efficient than alternatives, such as electric, for modes like regenerative braking and launch assist,” says Grant.

With the decreasing demand for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles caused by emission regulations and improved electric vehicles, MISER’s system might very well be the technology that prolongs the use of ICEs. There is hope for the old-school petrolhead.

Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.

03.13.19

For Making Emergency Assistance Accessible to All

BY Walter Hayward 2 MINUTE READ

Getting emergency help at the touch of a (virtual) button is now a reality for all South Africans through the Namola app. By using your phone’s GPS location, Namola operators are able to alert nearby responders who you are and where you are located. And thanks to a sponsorship from Dialdirect Insurance, Namola operates a free service. 

Where did the idea for Namola originate?

Namola came about simply because it’s difficult to get help fast in South Africa. Even if you can figure out the right emergency services to call, there is a chance that you will be put on hold (yes, even in an emergency!). If you do get through to an operator, you still face the challenge of having to tell them who you are and where you are, which could be a problem if you’re not familiar with the area. Namola was created as an easy way to access help fast in any emergency, anywhere in South Africa. It is as simple as pressing and holding the emergency button in the app —  we take care of the rest.

What are Namola’s key features? 

Before a user even answers our call, we know who they are and — with the use of GPS — where they are. This saves valuable time in an emergency. The Family Safety feature allows users to live-share their location with their loved ones, thereby providing the peace-of-mind
of knowing where they are and that they’re safe. Test feature: Namola encourages its users to test the app as many times as they wish so that they know how to use it in an emergency. 

Emergency information: By filling in your emergency information like your medical aid details, any medical conditions and your vehicle details, a Namola operator will use the information to get you the fastest possible help.

In-app chat feature: If a user can’t talk in an emergency, Namola has an in-app chat feature that allows them to communicate with the Namola operator and responders.

What’s next for Namola?

We are looking at expanding our responder network to ensure that our users continue to get help faster than before. We are also venturing into the wearable space, answering our most asked question: “What happens if I don’t have my phone in an emergency?” This is sure to be a gamechanger when it comes to getting help when you need it the most.

Read more in our March/April 2019 issue of Fast Company South Africa.