SA’s Mobiz fundraising to build out its marketing software platform

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South African marketing startup Mobiz is looking to raise US$3 million in funding with the aim of consolidating its corporate offering as well as developing and marketing products for SMEs.

One of African tech startups selected to pitch at the sixth edition of the Africa Early Stage Investor Summit in Cape Town this week, Mobiz is an easy-to-use marketing software platform that allows users to create well-designed and highly-personalised mobile campaigns within five minutes.

Launched in 2014 by Greg Chen and Clark Lin, the startup has developed proprietary SmartSMS technology, which combines the reach of SMS with the enriched user experience of a personalised web landing page. 

As a result, creating feature-rich web-based campaigns no longer requires the services of a digital or CRM agency. With Mobiz, any marketer can create, deploy and analyse large-scale digital campaigns. Customer engagement is tracked at an individual level, logging valuable data on activity and preferences, which allows companies deeper insights into their customers and as a result higher returns on investment in subsequent campaigns.

“Consumers respond to the richer experience of SmartSMS without worrying about the cost of data. Mobiz’s digital content is fully reverse-billed by the network carriers, removing the digital barrier experienced by the majority of South Africans,” Chen told Disrupt Africa.

Chen and Lin came up with the idea for Mobiz after seeing several trends coming together in the customer communication space and realising that nobody had yet done a good job of bridging them. Though there is what Chen calls a “red ocean” of providers offering customer engagement via standard SMS, Mobiz has created a powerful, but user-friendly smart engagement tool that combines the reach of the traditional SMS as a delivery mechanism with the interactivity and trackability of the web.

This approach has gained it some high-level customers, including Momentum, Homechoice, Pepkor, Lewis Group and Food Lover’s Market.

“While there are always gatekeepers at big corporates, uptake has always been positive once people see what Mobiz can do for them,” Chen said.

Now, though, the startup is seeking investment to take it to the next level. Seed-funded by its co-founders, and with the enterprise portion of the business now profitable, Mobiz is looking for US$3 million to consolidate its existing corporate offering and expand further into the large SME market.

The chance to pitch at the investor summit in Cape Town this week is a big deal for Mobiz.

“We had not applied to any programme or sought institutional funding until a few months ago, so to be selected by 40 VC and angel groups to represent the best investment opportunities on the continent is an awesome landmark for us,” Chen said.

The move into the SME market with also take the startup across national borders for the first time, with Chen saying these developments would be aimed at a global audience. Its revenues are generated by a combination of fixed monthly software fee, as well as transactional fees, which actually constitute 90 per cent of Mobiz’s revenue.

Over the last 12 months the company has generated over US$1 million in revenues, and since inception has sent over 200 million SmartSMSs to more than 20 million South African numbers on behalf of more than 50 South African brands in sectors ranging from retail to financial services. With funding on board, Mobiz is targeting even bigger numbers.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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