Arguably the most exciting space for South African entrepreneurs is that of mobile technology. Various factors have aligned to make this space a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity with limitless potential for global innovation.
Firstly, thanks to our location at the southern tip of Africa, where we lag the developed world when it comes to broadband penetration, we’ve become very adept at using mobile – and especially SMS – to fill the gaps, allowing us to leapfrog technology trends.
In addition, mobile technology, and especially the ubiquitous SMS, has evolved to a level of maturity that allows it to be easily harnessed by entrepreneurs – you don’t need to get your hands dirty to tap into the power of SMS.
Step-by-step guide to setting up an SMS remote business
- In Germany, a service allows residents to switch streetlights on by SMS – both in order to save electricity, and to ensure a safe journey home, especially when they leave the main roads and public transport hubs.
- Choose an SMS aggregator to partner with. These companies specialise in setting up cross-network SMS capabilities along with the associated billing relationships and systems. They also provide sophisticated application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow entrepreneurs to quickly and easily SMS-enable their services. This type of SMS is called application-to-person (A2P) messaging, as opposed to person-to-person (P2P) messaging.
- Think about how you are going to charge for your service. Good SMS aggregators will be able to navigate you through the various options: premium rate vs standard rate; dedicated shortcodes vs shared shortcodes with a keyword. Your aggregator will also be able to advise you on the right price point to choose for the service: free or too cheap means you risk having the service abused. You need to set a price that is acceptable for legitimate users but not too low.
- Promote your service, SMS number and keyword using fliers, stickers, signposts etc. Also tap into partner networks, for instance the municipality, town council, utility provider, security company or public transport operator you’re assisting with your service, and use their networks to promote the service on your behalf.