After 15 years in the corporate world, Darlene Menzies took time out to pursue her own business dreams. Spotting a gap in the market for customised, web-based and mobile solutions she launched The Development House (TDH) and began working with SMEs, non-profit organisations and government to develop IT systems specifically tailored for their needs.
Niche software products that meet market needs
One of the products the company has developed is SMEasy, an accounting and business management system for small businesses that is expressly designed for entrepreneurs who know nothing about accounting. It’s online, really easy to use, and provides accountants with anytime, anywhere access to an SME’s financial statements.
“SMEasy is empowering entrepreneurs across the country,” says Menzies. “It is a simple, unique solution that has been so successful that it won the 2010 National Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year Award.”
The product is promoted by national stakeholders such as USAID Financial Sector Programme and the South African Institute for Professional Accountants (SAIPA).
Menzies attributes a big part of her success to being well networked. She is on the board of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and works across business, government and civil society sectors nationally.
After the initial development of the SMEasy prototype, venture capital firm 4Di Capital took a 15% stake in the business, helping to fast track its production development. “Until then, I’d been developing the product with profits from my other business,” says Menzies. “The 4Di investment helped us to formalise the development roadmap and to ready the product for sales. These are exciting times. It’s great to be living our dream.”
Player: Darlene Menzies
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