Entrepreneurship

Pieter de Villiers, Founder of Clickatell and Tinashe Ruzane Co-founder of FlexClub are the latest South African entrepreneurs to join the prestigious global network and did so during Endeavor’s 92nd International Selection Panel (ISP) held in Riviera Maya, Mexico in December.

Clickatell provides a chat commerce platform that enables brands to connect, interact and transact with their customers the same way they do with friends and family through chat. Clickatell’s chat commerce platform has two primary offerings: Clickatell/Touch, which enables organisations to reach their customers on any messaging platform and offer self-serve capabilities via AI and Bot-enabled mobile chat, and Clickatell/Transact, which enables large consumer brands to process payments and issue digital goods and services.

Pieter’s interest in technology and entrepreneurship started at a young age. Having enjoyed studying maths and science, he was drawn to the internet and e-commerce well before these technologies became mainstream.

Pieter de Villiers, Founder of Clickatell
Pieter de Villiers, Founder of Clickatell

Pieter and his brother Casper started a business selling last minute flight deals to students and when the business faltered as a result of emailed travel alerts only being read every three days or so, it prompted the realisation that time-critical notifications were key to effective B2C communication, hence Clickatell’s pioneering move into enterprise messaging using SMS.

Clickatell has evolved over the past 20 years to become a service provider to 15K customers, ranging from Fortune 500 organisations (including Visa, WhatsApp, United Airlines and MTN) to well-known consumer brands and SMEs, and has connected to 6B mobile phone users in over 200 countries worldwide.

At present, Clickatell is increasing market share in its current geographies  – Nigeria, South Africa, USA and Canada – with a view to exploring target geographies such as Latin America over the next few years. In the long term, the company hopes to deliver real-time, micropayments and electronic bill payments driven by personalisation, context and mobile identity.

Mission to democratise car ownership for these underserved drivers: Ruzane

Tinashe Ruzane has always been fascinated by products that scale massively to support underserved customers.

Tinashe Ruzane Co-founder of FlexClub
Tinashe Ruzane Co-founder of FlexClub

Following several early entrepreneurial pursuits to achieve this in the transportation space and a career in management consulting, Tinashe joined the Awethu Project, where he had the chance to cut his teeth on understanding how to increase access to finance for microbusinesses in South African under-resourced communities.

His work exposed him to the plight of drivers looking to join Uber but lacking access to finance to purchase a car. In an effort to learn more, he purchased a car to rent to an Uber driver.

After discovering the power of the data being generated on the Uber platform, he became convinced of its potential to help banks better assess the risk of Uber drivers and unlock access to finance.

He eventually joined Uber and focused on solving that same problem of increasing access to cars for drivers. As Head of Vehicle Solutions for Uber across Europe, Middle East and Africa, he came to the realisation that in emerging markets, there was a large opportunity to provide drivers renting cars in the informal car rental market with a cheaper flexible alternative.

In 2018, he left Uber to found FlexClub with Rudolf Vavruch and Marlon Gallardo, with the mission to democratise car ownership for these underserved drivers.

Today, thousands of Uber drivers across South Africa and Mexico have applied for a car on their Drive-to-Buy plan, with FlexClub now being a preferred provider of vehicles to drivers in both countries.

Through their platform, car owners can now earn passive rental income by renting out their vehicles to FlexClub. They’ve introduced simplicity to the informal sector, with hundreds of drivers now on a path to car ownership, while simultaneously turning cars into an investment that generates rental income for vehicle partners in South Africa and Mexico. FlexClub aspires to become one of the largest providers of vehicles to small and microbusinesses in emerging markets in the years to come.

The ISP is the culmination of a rigorous multi-step selection process to identify high-impact entrepreneurs who demonstrate the potential to leverage Endeavor’s resources and mentorship to create large-scale wealth and jobs. Additionally, Endeavor entrepreneurs are committed to reinvesting their time and money in their local entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Ruzane and Pieter are the 76th and 77th entrepreneurs to be selected into the Endeavor South Africa portfolio.

They join current entrepreneurs, Skynamo (Sam Clarke), SweepSouth (Dr. Alen Ribic and Dr. Aisha Pandor), Ozow (Thomas Pays, Lyle Eckstein, and Mitchan Adams), Retail Engage (Retail Engage), Saryx Engineering Group (Ingrid Osborne, Julie Mathieson), ITSI (Dr. Jacobus Liebenberg), Pargo (Lars Veul and Derk Hoekert), Sancreed (Graham Rowe and Richard Johnson), GO1 (Melvyn Lubega and Andrew Barnes), SPARK Schools (Stacey Brewer), ArcAqua (Crispin Russell), Hello Group (Nadir Khamissa and Shaazim Khamissa), Merchant Capital (Dov Girnun), Entersekt (Schalk Nolte and Dewald Nolte), Wyzetalk (Gysbert Kappers), GreatSoft (Bruce Morgan), BrandsEye (Jean-Pierre Kloppers and Craig Raw), The Training Room Online (Kirsty Chadwick), Masana Hygiene Services (Cynthia Mkhombo and Richard Mkhombo), IsoMetrix Software Solutions (Dennis Marketos and Paul Marketos), CallForce (Candice Roberts) and InnoVent (DJ Kumbula and Zakhe Khuzwayo).

 

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