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MynextMail: Madoda Kuzwayo and Mnive Nhlabathi

Hosted offerings tailor-made for Africa compete head-on with cloud computing giants.

Monique Verduyn

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Madoda

It’s a big leap from rural KwaZulu Natal to the cloud, but It’s one that Madoda Kuzwayo, co-founder of MynextMail, an email, instant messaging and voice-over-IP service provider, took when he and Mnive Nhlabathi registered their business in 2005.

As if getting a start-up off the ground with no funding wasn’t tough enough, they had to wait for three years for a licence from communication regulator ICASA.

Theirs is a true South African success story. Kuzwayo moved to Johannesburg after his mother died. He did well at high school and was offered an engineering bursary. But his real passion lay in IT. After graduating he went to the UK and landed a job with BMW, completing his IT studies at Oxford at the same time.

A trip to India confirmed what he had believed for a long time. “When you see what Indians and Koreans are doing, it’s clear that South Africans are still sleeping when it comes to technology and entrepreneurship,” he says. “I was determined do something different.”

He returned home in time for the World Cup preparations and won a business competition for an online youth accommodation finder. But while he was doing the research, he realised that cloud-based email was where the gap lay.

“We standardised our offering on an open source solution called iSwap and customised the components to suit our customers and the African market in particular.

“Among MynextMail’s biggest differentiators, customers can drive the direction of the solution and make it more applicable through feature requests. That has given us enormous room for innovation.”

The company’s vision is to become the number one email hosting provider in the world. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that Kuzwayo says is achievable because of the reliability, customer support and infrastructure his company offers.

“If Facebook and Google can do it, why can’t we? The point is to set your sights high.” He’s set his on the cloud.

Vital stats

Players: Madoda Kuzwayo and Mnive Nhlabathi

Company: MynextMail

Launched: 2005

Contact: +27 (0)11 540 0177; mynextmail.com

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+.

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