South African digital employee engagement startup Wyzetalk is expanding to the Netherlands on the back of a “momentous” 2019 that has seen it secure major multinational deals, including with major mining firms Anglo American and De Beers.
Founded in 2012, the Stellenbosch-based Wyzetalk is a digital employee engagement platform that over the last 12 months has successfully deployed with corporates such as Shoprite, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, RCL Foods, Harmony Gold and Impala Platinum.
The two major deals in what chief executive officer (CEO) Gys Kappers told Disrupt Africa was a “momentous” year for the company were with mining firms Anglo American and De Beers, which he hoped would see Wyzetalk’s solution deployed in 12 countries on four continents by the second quarter of 2020.
“Anglo American and De Beers have been amazing partners for us. They feel strongly about the power of connecting their whole business – from the CEO right the way through to their frontline workers everywhere in the world. They’re taking engagement, communication, safety and productivity very seriously,” Kappers said.
De Beers was first to launch with Wyzetalk, in South Africa and Canada, and Anglo American will launch to all countries by the first quarter of this year, with launches already underway in South America and one of its international divisions. Kappers said the impact of all this on Wyzetalk as a business had been “immense”.
“It has taken a lot of planning, infrastructure set up and customisation which has helped us evolve our product and solution. The partnership has been incredible from a brand acquisition perspective, and we’re learning from them all the time,” he said.
“That we competed and were successful in being chosen as the employee engagement partner for Anglo American worldwide against significantly larger and more established vendors is significant for Wyzetalk.”
Just as significant are the startup’s international expansion plans, with Wyzetalk in the process of launching in the Netherlands, its first formal overseas base. Kappers said the appeal was the country’s attractive incentives and concessions for companies and employees, as well as his own networks.
“We’ve met incredible partners that share our vision that are working with us on our expansion, and refining our technology offering for more developed markets,” he said.
“Aside from the business benefits, the Netherlands is centrally located and interestingly, the South African and Dutch cultures share certain similarities. Our COO, who moved with his family to Utrecht a few months ago to spearhead our European expansion, has found it an easy transition from South Africa.”
Wyzetalk, which last raised funding back in 2015, is also in the process of closing a multi-million Euro equity deal with a Dutch venture capital business. Kappers said it was also investing in its operations at home, with the company’s Cape Town and Johannesburg offices expanding rapidly to cater for the growing demand from clients for 24/7 support. He said Wyzetalk’s innovation, engineering and professional service centres of excellence would remain in South Africa “for now”.
“We don’t have immediate plans to set up additional offices in other countries but we are in the process of refining a bold globalisation strategy that might require this in the next few years,” he said.
“Within the next six months we’ll have clients and users on all continents, which is incredible reach for this Stellenbosch startup. Although our plans are ambitious we are also sensitive to considerate growth, making sure we have the right team to deliver, and a product that is right for the markets we serve.”