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BulkSMS: Dr Pieter E. Streicher

Make your passion your work, they say, and you will always be happy with your job.

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Pieter Streicher of BulkSMS

In a roundabout kind of way, this isexactly what Dr. Piet Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com has done. Akeen and active windsurfer in the late 1990s, Streicher – who holds a PhD inengineering – was up against the elements every day in his search for theperfect conditions. Given the capricious nature of the weather in Cape Town, saysStreicher, he decided with a colleague that an effective alert system wasnecessary to carpe the good diems. For enthusiasts, windsurfing is a seriousbusiness. A good day is really good – but a bad day is pointless. “Initially,we considered a pager system to send out proactive alerts to windsurfers,rather than relying on the existing system of calling in to a phone line toestablish conditions,” relates Streicher. “We soon realised, though, thatcellphones could be used as pagers.”

Back in 1998, cellphones were somewhatnew-fangled gadgets, so this realisation proved to be rather visionary. Itwasn’t long, says Streicher, before a pretty rudimentary system was in placewhich consisted of a modem and a computer linked into GSM networks. The alertsystem attracted the attention of the relatively small fraternity ofwindsurfers, who soon started to see the benefit of being notified as soon asthe surf – and wind – was up. “When the conditions are good, any windsurfer islikely to do his best to stop doing whatever he is doing at the time and getdown to the beach,” says Streicher. The effect of this system on the officeproductivity of these windsurfers is not recorded. Many of them, however, didhave office jobs; and as a result, the potential of an SMS alert system forfurther applications soon became apparent. “Some of the windsurfers getting ouralerts were working in the financial services sector and realised that an alertsystem could add value, such as notifying clients of closing prices [of stocks]at the end of the day,” says Streicher.

Adding the necessary perspective, sincesuch a notion today is hardly earth shattering, Streicher says that this was,at the time, revolutionary. “This was before the widespread adoption andavailability of the Internet. Prior to this, clients were completely in thedark and brokers could take advantage of that fact,” he explains. Success was soon to follow; the value addedby a simple SMS has many contexts and BulkSMS.com as a company began to takeshape around this realisation. There is little question that SMS provides anideal platform for targeted communication, but Streicher says it should be usedwith some strategic insight. “Today, the applications for SMS communication arenumerous but it should be targeted rather than simply broadcast,” he says. It’s a point well made. Since an SMS isquite a personal thing which comes straight to your attention, it can also beintrusive and annoying to receive messages with no relevance or value. “Peopleexpect SMS to be targeted,” Streicher confirms, “With marketing efforts, peoplelike to be asked first and also to be given the opportunity to opt out.”

His advice is to examine contexts in whichan SMS adds value to business processes, such as progress reports and updatesfor anything from repairs to a car or your telephone line, to the progress of yourpooch at the parlour. “Usually such communication is either done by phone ornot at all. As consumers, we all know how annoying it is to be kept in thedark; SMS is simple and inexpensive and in this context adds great value.” Just about any business can take advantageof keeping customers happy with SMS; depending on the volume, the cost is from25c per message to 42c per message. BulkSMS.com’s customers don’t pay foranything but the messages sent. The cents make the Rands, the Rands makethe hundreds and the hundreds make the thousands. That SMS can add value isprobably best reflected in the status BulkSMS.com enjoys today – it is a R60million per year concern. All that from wanting to harness the elements betterfor a good day out in the surf. “It has turned out to be a great business,all in all. We are very happy doing what we do, it adds substantial value toour customers and as a result, we have enjoyed massive growth,” Streicherconcludes. Contact: +27 21 552 6321; www.bulksms.com

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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