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Itrack: Richard Parry, Jean-Claude Malengret And Tristan Phillips

Three students take on the asset tracking market with innovative, cost-effective tools

Juliet Pitman

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Richard Parry, Jean-Claude Malengret And Tristan Phillips of iTrack

“The most important thing I think we’velearned since we started the business is that sometimes the ideas you have arebetter than you think and if you just try something, your success may justsurprise you,” says Richard Parry and co-founder of iTrack, a Cape Town-basedcompany that develops tracking technology. The idea he’s referring to was for acost-effective, easy-to-use tracking device that he conceived together withco-founders, Jean-Claude Malengret and Tristan Phillips, when the three werestill engineering students at UCT.

Launching the iTrack Live product, as itwas eventually named, into a market dominated by the likes of Netstar andTracker was a bold move, but the partners knew a gap when they saw one. “Ourcompetitive edge is on price and ease of use. We don’t force customers into acontract but rather charge a flat fee for the equipment and installation andthen charge them on a month-to-month basis thereafter, so its very flexible.Also, the system is far more sophisticated than other cheaper, entry levelsolutions in the market. The web interface we’ve developed means customers canaccess satellite and road maps to get a full history of everywhere theirvehicles have been and when they were there and they can generate reports and afull three month history on their fleet. The system can also provide live SMSsand emails,” explains Parry. The product proved to be ideal for SMBs lookingfor sophisticated fleet management at an affordable price and on flexibleterms.

The trio started out as a research anddevelopment outfit specialising in bespoke remote control and monitoringsolutions for a range of industry players. “We kept our overheads low and ranon a contract basis so it sustained us but we got tired of developing productsfor other people and decided to launch our own products onto the market,” hesays. Doing so meant taking a risk but Parry explains how the company keptcosts low in order to make it work. “We develop all the hardware and software,and we handle all the technical support and maintenance, but we outsourcemanufacture and assembly, so we keep staff costs low – the business is stillonly made up of the three of us,” he says. They market the product through theinternet on Google ads, and as Parry comments, “It’s extremely cost effectiveand still our primary source of leads generation. Our monthly budget for it isa fraction of the return we get from it.”While they might be experts in engineeringand technology, Parry and his partners have had to be fast learners when itcame to business skills. “We had to learn about things like marketing andfinance along the way, but we’ve asked lots of questions and been very keen tolearn from others. We were also accepted to participate in the VeloCITIbusiness acceleration programme (part of the Cape Information TechnologyInitiative) and have formed partnerships with various organisations,” saysParry.

The success of the iTrack Live product hasopened doors for the company, as Parry comments, “Clients and other interestedparties started to approach us asking if we could develop a personnel trackingdevice. We’d originally conceived many applications for our tracking equipmentand this happened to be one of them.” Further research revealed that the marketwas ripe for a personnel tracking solution and the team set to work developingiTrack U, a portable hand-held version of the iTrack product range thatprovides real-time tracking and security for individuals. “Initially it’s beingmarketed to the security industry – it has a web interface that allowscompanies to see where their guards are, and a panic button allows guards to callfor help in emergency situations via two-way communication through a cellularnetwork,” says Parry. But the potential markets extend far beyond securityfirms – iTrack U is unique in the country and will give Parry, Malengret andPhillips the edge they need to achieve their ambitions “to become the firstchoice in South Africa for fleet management, personnel security and assettracking solutions, and to expand our business into the continent.”

Contact: +27 21 683 3310, www.itracklive.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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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