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Local Start-Up Gets Pay Back

Three tech entrepreneurs find success in a pay-to-tweet business that’s rapidly evolving. Luyanda Jafta explains how.

Juliet Pitman

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How does Paybook work?

Paybook is a conversational marketing company that allows advertisers the opportunity to interact with their market by utilising social media.

Simply put, its a pay-to-tweet platform where we pay 3c a follower to our subscribers for tweeting about our clients’ brands. We focus primarily on the teenage and young adult market, which are very active on social media and, more importantly, determine what is ‘cool’.

This market views traditional advertising as annoying spam and Paybook developed out of a need we identified to help advertisers regain traction in this market.

Where did the idea come from?

It grew out of an initial business idea I had when I was at university and I started wondering if it would work if you paid people to endorse brands.

What didn’t come easily?

We needed to work out what a tweet should be worth. That was tough because there is no agreed upon model in the market. Then we had to educate the market about why that pricing structure made sense.

How has it evolved?

Building on the pay-to-tweet model, we’ve developed a number of other platforms including Life Jingle, which connects musicians with brands to develop jingles; Paybook BlogLog that connects bloggers and advertisers; Pic cha Pay which is a photo branding platform; and Paybook Evo, a gaming platform that encourages users to find out more about brands in return for prizes.

Was there ever an instance where you had to change tack because something wasn’t working?

We realised that we had a great value proposition for subscribers (the people we pay to endorse brands) but that we needed to strengthen our offering to clients. This is why we came up with the different product platforms mentioned earlier.

What were the key challenges you faced?

Initially we thought our biggest hurdle was lack of funding. But we quickly realised that it’s possible to think your way out of a business crisis if you just use a bit of creativity. Having access to the capital you need can actually be a bad thing for a start-up because it constrains your ability to problem-solve.

What advice would you give other start-ups?

I’d tell black entrepreneurs to stop relying on BEE. Rely on yourself and your ability to forge relationships with people. Rely on having a good product. Relying on BEE just spoils good people who may otherwise be talented enough to be successful on their own.

Vital stats

  • Players: Mendy Nkosi, Zamo Tshabalala and Luyanda Jafta
  • Company: Paybook
  • Est: 2012
  • X-factor: Innovative platforms that offer subscribers cash in return for building and endorsing clients’ brands.
  • Contact: www.paybook.co.za; +27 (0)11 025 8166

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Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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