How SA’s Sudonum is helping online sellers retain their privacy


South Africa’s Sudonum has built a global client base using its API-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering that helps online sellers retain their privacy.

Formed in 2015 by Michael Toop and Mark Griffioen, Sudonum was built as its co-founders sought a solution that would allow sellers to stay private while still being able to receive calls when selling used goods online. 

An R&D project inside another technology business until Toop and Griffioen spun it out, Sudonum has built a collection of easy-to-use APIs that allow companies to innovate faster because it abstracts away the complexity of dealing with – and understanding – a highly technical telecommunications industry. 

Among its offerings are call tracking, number privacy, virtual phone number and Voice API services, while it also offers WhatsApp solutions for marketplaces. Sudonum provides these services to the majority of South African property and automotive classified platforms, while it also works globally with specific businesses in eBay Classifieds Group, Naspers and Adevinta. 

Yet securing uptake initially was a challenge.

“Our original idea of selling privacy got nobody but ourselves excited,” Griffioen said. “Fortunately, we spent a lot of time with the kinds of businesses we wanted to sell to and realised that there was an opportunity to take the privacy concept and turn it into a voice and SMS analytics play focused at global marketplaces.”

This play worked a charm. Sudonum raised capital from a handful of local investors, among them Hlayisani Capital, and has clients all over the world.

“We focus our energy on developing markets with large populations. Latin and Central America have been strong geographies for us and will continue to be going forward. We’re constantly testing new markets to determine technical feasibility and commercial viability,” said Griffioen.

Sudonum runs a very typical pay-per-use model, and Griffioen said it has seen year-on-year revenue growth that is “normal” for a business in its growth phase. For now, all profits are invested back into the business to fund this growth. 

“Starting Sudonum for us was the confluence of timing, hustle and luck. We were a small team when we launched in 2015 – and still are – so staying focused on execution is one of the hardest things we do every day,” Griffioen said.

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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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