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Yeigo: Wilter Du Toit, Lungisa Matshoba & Rapelang Rabana

Three university students develop and launch South Africa’s first mobile VoIP solution

Juliet Pitman

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Wilter Du Toit, Lungisa Matshoba & Rapelang Rabana of Yeigo Communication

When it comes to entrepreneurship, age isjust a number. If you disagree, take a look at the founding members of YeigoCommunications. At just 23 years of age, Wilter du Toit, Lungisa Matshoba andRapelang Rabana have developed and launched a unique mobile communicationssolution, attracted substantial funding from serious investors and grown acompany from three to 11 employees in just two years. Not bad for a group ofuniversity honours students without any business experience. Because let’s faceit – it’s an achievement that eludes many older individuals with many moreyears of business experience under their belts.

The Yeigo product is unique in South Africa –it’s a mobile VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) solution, which enables Yeigoto offer cheaper mobile calls. Simply put, it saves users’ money by directingtheir voice calls via the operators’ data networks or directly through theInternet, rather than over the voice network. As with traditional VoIP, theonly cost incurred by a Yeigo user when calling another Yeigo user anywhere inthe world, is the data cost of connecting to the Internet. But, as a mobilesolution it offers users greater flexibility and even greater savings thantraditional fixed-line VoIP. You could think of it as a mobile version ofSkype.Yeigo chief executive, Rapelang Rabana,relates how she and her co-founders conceived the idea: “During our honoursyear in computer science at UCT, we needed to start making decisions aboutcareer paths but we realised that in the corporate world we would either beboxed as a developer or a business analyst and we wouldn’t be able to blendcomputer science and commerce together in the way that we wanted to. The onlyother option was to have our own business so we started cracking some ideas.”She adds, “The inspiration behind Yeigo was to empower the ordinary person tomake cheaper calls anywhere in the world, giving them control over how oftenthey communicate and how much it costs them.”

But developing such a solution in a countryvery much behind the times when it comes to cutting-edge technology, was noteasy. “Funding was our biggest initial stumbling block,” remembers Rabana.“Until you start meeting the right people, it’s incredibly hard to get venturecapital in South Africa, especially in the high-risk technology sector.” Butluckily she met the right person in the form of Ivan Ferrer, founder of PastelSoftware and the driving force behind ensuring that the company dominated theSouth African accounting software market. He and Rabana were introduced at aUCT Young Women in Finance conference. “After unsuccessfully approaching anumber of different financial institutions, we realised that previousentrepreneurs were a lot more receptive to new ideas,” she explains. Ferrer andtwo other private investors invested an undisclosed sum in exchange for equityin Yeigo. It’s clear that they see great potential in what the company canachieve. “Yeigo is easily accessible and will see businesses saving thousandsof rands on their telecommunications costs.”This is precisely where the business iscurrently focusing its attention. Rabana explains that the growth potential forthe company lies in the corporate sector and indicates that Yeigo has beenformed to tap into this market. She says: “Right now, the product’s limitationslie in its compatibility with certain phones as well as the quality of Internetinfrastructure.

By and large, the corporate environment is where people havecompatible phones and where the Internet infrastructure is managed properly.”She adds that this market, while currently using VoIP solutions, has a greaterneed for the mobility that Yeigo can provide. “Because they already haveinfrastructure or partnerships with ISPs they can simply add this mobileelement into their existing solution,” she says.Yeigo currently has over 6 000 users, allof whom joined as a result of the Yeigo website. “The reception has beenincredible and we haven’t even started aggressive marketing,” says Rabana, whoadmits that she and her co-founders underestimated the challenge they weretaking on when they started the company. “If we’d really got to grips with thecomplexity of what we were taking on we would probably have shied away,” shelaughs. Youthful naivety, perhaps, but its certainly worked in their favour.

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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