Tech startup is not only playing the software solutions game, but changing it too
Everlytic is a cloud marketing software solution that manages campaigns and everyday communication across email, mobile and social channels large and small businesses, as well as individuals.
Founder and chief technical officer Sam Hutchinson tells how he and his co-founder Josh Adler started Everlytic in 2010, which then only offered tailored email newsletters for the publishing industry. Today it has become one of South Africa’s leading online messaging platforms.
Everlytic pivoted out of a company I founded in 2004 called Prefix Technologies, straight out of university – In the beginning, we worked on a little bit of everything – hosting domains, building websites and content management solutions kept us busy. Then we added digital communications to the portfolio, that was the real game changer for us.
We saw potential in what we were doing for clients, but not with the existing architecture – So we built our own solution from the ground up with the features clients needed and we loved. That product came to be known as Everlytic; we’ve never had a reason to look back since.
We believed that businesses needed to communicate better – So we set out to build the most advanced digital communications platform on the planet. We were unhappy with existing technology. So we created something new, and are now number one in South Africa.
Everlytic became profitable without external funding – We bootstrapped [the business] in the early years, but last year raised a round of capital to fund expansion from Vumela, a FNB backed black empowerment fund.
We love the internet and believe that cloud-based products are the future – The internet is the great leveller for small business to compete with big business. We also realised that nobody was doing this properly and decided we could do it better.
The startup ecosystem in South Africa has kicked up a notch in the last five years – Now [it] seems to be quite a vibrant community with lots of interested new tech companies and others coming to the fore.
“Be obsessed! If you are going take the risk and start your own business then put everything into it, no half measures and be relentless until you either fail or succeed”
We will never be Silicon Valley so we need to create our own unique ecosystem that works in Africa – The interesting part is that entrepreneurs always complain [that] there is no capital and venture capitalists always complain [that] there are no great companies to invest in. I think this is starting to change as investors become less risk averse and entrepreneurs become bolder with their ideas. We plan to build on our leadership position in South Africa and then start tackling the rest of Africa. We want to be the fastest growing software-as-a-service company in Africa.
You need to choose a market that is large enough and actually has money – If your initial target market is too small you can never reach any type of proper scale in your business and the margin for error is too small.
Hutchinson’s advice for entrepreneurs:
- Focus, focus, and focus some more: Discard everything else you are doing that isn’t core to our idea and become the best at it. That is the only way to compete with the millions of other garage startups around the world.
- Be obsessed! If you are going take the risk and start your own business then put everything into it, no half measures and be relentless until you either fail or succeed.
- Find the best talent: Finding great talent that is committed to your vision is always the hardest part of starting a business. Hire good people and look after them. They are the most important part of your business and without good team you will achieve nothing great.