Snapt: Dave Blakely

Snapt: Dave Blakely

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1. Securing a killer client

How does a South African start-up get to have NASA as a client? By creating an open source font-end snap-on for the HA Proxy Load Balancer, a super fast and reliable solution for sustaining websites groaning under heavy loads.

Snapt’s HAProxy comes with additional features that include advanced reporting and powerful control over configuration files as well as status alerts. It’s a user interface that can save companies up to 60 times what they would usually spend on licensed software.

2. Validating the idea

Dave Blakely (27) officially launched Snapt in August 2011, having worked on his idea for a free and open source Software (FOSS) technology business that would save companies a mint by providing them with an alternative to expensive proprietary software.

When a NASA technician came across the Snapt-ui.com website while searching for load-balancing software, the space agency signed up for a trial version of the software.

“NASA’s not a massive client, but the validation for us was huge,” Blakely says. “Now, 85% of our clients are US-based, and the business has grown almost entirely by word of mouth.”

3. Finding an investor

Blakely initially bootstrapped the business, but real growth required funding. He approached 4Di Capital, an early-stage technology venture capital firm based in Cape Town.

“I realised that giving away 30% of the business in exchange for finance would make it worth so much more in the long-run because we needed the money to develop our ideas. 4Di was impressed by our offering because we had already proven that the market was ready for us and that there was a solid business plan in place.”

Market readiness counts

“Ten years ago, large companies were not interested in open source. Today, they are only too keen to use the technology to save costs and drive efficiencies. However, many FOSS solutions still lack management platforms, reporting abilities and support. Our solutions make open source business ready and easy to use, turning the legendary performance of FOSS into a real business advantage.”

With analyst firm Gartner predicting that by the end of 2012 more than 90% of businesses will use enterprise open source in direct or embedded forms, Snapt looks set to soar.

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.