Kalon Venture Partners investee company, Mobiz, a South African start-up integrating hyper-personalization into mobile marketing, has raised a pre-Series A round of $ 4 million from HAVAÍC, Future growth, Launch Africa, Allan Gray E-Squared Ventures, CapaciTech and Endeavor’s Harvest Fund numerous investors.
This follows Kalon’s initial seed investment and comes as the start-up is ramping up efforts to expand into the U.S. and double down on marketing, sales and account management. Part of the investment will be used to hire more staff in South Africa and support the commercial expansion to the U.S.
Mobiz works as a code-free tool that helps marketers, enterprises and SMBs create and send SMS campaigns to their customers without any marketing experience. CEO Greg Chen founded the company in 2014 came from his 15-year span in the mobile industry, noticing how enterprises in South Africa struggled to target and engage their customers via SMS efficiently.
“In South Africa and Africa general, there are a lot of companies using SMS marketing, but it’s not giving any value to them because they lack digital marketing skills,” he said to TechCrunch over a call.
“So we came to enable businesses to deliver personalized digital content via a personal landing page that can be built easily within the Mobiz platform and deliver on the SMS channel.”
Seven years in, the company works with more than 100 brands, such as MultiChoice, Experian, Home Choice and New Balance. Per data from Mobiz’s website, SMS messages delivered by the company are read within three minutes with a 98% open rate.
The company said that these messages range from offers and specials and loyalty programs to crisis communication and ticket sales.
Having gained a significant market share in the South African SMS marketing space, Mobiz is turning its sights on providing its service to small and medium businesses. However, the target market is in the U.S. and not the African country where the company started. According to Chen, the company sees potential in the U.S.’ small and medium business market because “its product is easy to use and suited for the big market opportunity in the U.S.”
“How we’ve disrupted our space in South Africa, we see an opportunity over there. So we want to help many SMBs easily produce beautiful customer engagements that are personalized at scale to make them clickable within 10 minutes on their platforms. That’s our thesis and we are very hopeful that we will work out.”
The SMB market in the U.S. is projected to reach $12.5 billion and is expected to register a CAGR of 20.3% from 2019 to 2025, according to a report by Grandview Research.
Chen says that part of this growth is buoyed by the ineffectiveness of email marketing in the U.S (similar to SMS marketing in Africa) where customers are inundated and spammed.
This month, the company is going live with more than 200-plus beta users in the U.S. currently active on the platform.
As an early investor in the company, Clive Butkow CEO of Kalon Venture Partners commented “We are very excited about Mobiz’s prospects, this capital raising round is validation of the vision in Greg when we invested, Mobiz continues to show impressive growth and we look forward to supporting and assisting them with their growth plan”
Chen adds that now that the company is going full tilt in the U.S. market, plans are set to raise a subsequent Series A round in the coming months.