Serial SA entrepreneur back with new solution to help companies work remotely

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Carl Wallace has been around the block of South Africa’s startup world a time or two, founding a bunch of companies and raising several funding rounds. Now, he’s back with a tool that will help companies work better remotely, and he’s funding it himself.

A quick look at Wallace’s LinkedIn gives you a snapshot of his activity over the last few years. He began entrepreneurial life as founder of website-builder ViGO, which is now part of his marketing company Digital Drawing Room.

Digital Drawing Room is itself part of Digital HQ, of which Wallace is group chief executive officer (CEO). The group also comprises Wapp and Digemy, and the newest addition is ydox, a communication, collaboration and content management tool that enables business teams to work more efficiently, securely and remotely. 

“We built this solution to solve business critical problems caused by cyber security threats, email communication and the way we work with digital content,” Wallace told Disrupt Africa.

Wallace, who has been working on ydox for the last three years, said the platform is more than just a tech solution. 

“I want to completely change the way business teams are working, for two reasons. One, a more efficient and safer way to manage content and communicate with clients where critical company information is at stake in a massive attempt to get rid of the huge cyber risk around email, and two, to drastically decrease the amount of digital waste that is created so as to bring down our contribution to damage caused to global environment,” he said.

Cyber security, specifically around email communication and company content that gets sent all over the internet, is a major threat to all businesses, says Wallace. 

“Email security has become so insanely tight in order to try and solve this problem, soon we won’t be able to send and receive. A change in the way we work with content and communication around business files is much needed,” he said.

With the global shift towards remote working of late, the timing for a new way of working could not be better. 

“Due to the way we currently work with digital files, we create such a vast amount of redundant, useless data, that the majority of the cloud infrastructure exists to store data that will never be seen again,” said Wallace.

“The world’s data industry that houses enormous quantities of information created by our daily work and personal activities – consume about three percent of the global electricity supply, and produce two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – roughly the same as global air travel. This needs to change and we have started by empowering teams to be more efficient.”

ydox has already rolled out to small and medium sized businesses over multiple industries, including legal, financial, professional services, medical and retail. With its latest version, it is moving into the corporate space with an enterprise-ready solution for large teams.

“We are primarily focused on the South African market, but have started rolling out in Europe – England, Switzerland and the Netherlands to be specific,” Wallace said. “There is so much space for us in Africa, so we will be busy on the continent for a very long time. As worldwide expansion increases we will set up teams around the world to support the growth.”

Having been through various capital raises in the past, Wallace has departed from his usual methods by self-funding ydox himself thus far.

“I took a new strategy for this one by putting my own money where my mouth is and proving to the world that I back myself. Once we are ready for mass global scaling, I might consider doing a round for that,” he said.

The startup, which as a SaaS product charges customers a monthly subscription fee per employee, may not be funded, but it does have a significant advantage in being part of the Digital HQ group of companies.

“The benefit of ydox being a part of Digital HQ is that all support, design and software development needs are catered for by Digital Drawing Room and Wapp respectively. The rollout and support model is based on software reselling and implementing firms that make our technology available to their existing client base,” said Wallace.

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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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