International calling app Talk360 bags R53m funding

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 04 Oct 2022
Talk360 co-founders Hans Osnabrugge, Jorne Schamp and Dean Hiine.
Talk360 co-founders Hans Osnabrugge, Jorne Schamp and Dean Hiine.

Talk360, which enables people around the world to make calls to any landline or mobile phone worldwide, has secured an additional $3 million (R53 million) in seed round funding.

This takes its total seed round to $7 million (R124 million) after its first closing in May.

According to the international calling app, the funds will help the company grow its market share in South Africa, drive its growth on the rest of the continent and launch its Pan-African payment platform in 2023.

Talk360 was co-founded in 2016 by South African venture builder Dean Hiine, and Dutch entrepreneurs Hans Osnabrugge and Jorne Schamp.

With offices in SA, the Netherlands, India and Nigeria, the company says it connected more than two million people in 2021.

In SA, where it currently has over 50 000 monthly active users, Talk360’s traffic comes from people making local calls, whether it is landline or mobile, Hiine recently told ITWeb in an interview.

In a statement, the company says the latest round of funding includes new South African investors like Allan Gray E2 Ventures, Kalon Venture Partners, E4E Africa, Endeavor, existing lead investor HAVAÍC and angel investors in the form of the co-founders of TymeBank, Tjaart van der Walt and Coenraad Jonker.

In the past year, it notes, Talk360 has seen 167% growth in customers and 130% revenue growth, and has nearly doubled the number of calling minutes to and from South Africa, on the back of what it calls a “significantly improved” distribution network.

The company says it has connected 2.3 million people worldwide so far this year. Hiine says it has doubled its headcount this year as it looks to aggressively grow the business.

“Our mission is to bridge distance and connect lives by offering reliable, affordable and easy-to-use digital services, delivered in a localised manner to all communities, particularly emerging countries, so they can connect to the world,” says Hiine.

“But we’re not just solving socio-economic issues: we’re also offering micro-entrepreneurship and income-generating opportunities to our growing network of agents across the country.”

Talk360’s agent model in South Africa is key to its success, with agents earning cash for every customer referred, the firm says.

The company has seen a 33% growth in agents, bringing in over 800% more customers over the past year, as it looks to build micro-entrepreneurship, bring income opportunities and jobs to under-serviced communities and grow its footprint.

Clive Butkow, CEO of Kalon, says the Talk360 team has “a wealth of experience” in the communications space in South Africa and across the continent.

“We’re excited to add this investment to the Kalon portfolio, and believe it has the potential to rapidly scale across Africa,” he says.

Ian Lessem, managing partner at HAVAÍC, says the fact the initial seed round target was oversubscribed is a testament to Talk360’s remarkable traction and growth potential.

“We invested more into Talk360 based on its strong progress in the South African market to date, as well as its potential in the rest of Africa. Since our first investment, the company has shown spectacular growth, and a genuine ability to crack the challenge of distribution in Africa. We’ve seen the company convert users to paying customers by offering them relevant services, and making this accessible in an easy, affordable, reliable and trustworthy way,” says Lessem.

Tjaart van der Walt notes the Tyme founders were investing because Talk360 enables potentially millions of people in remote areas to make and receive calls more affordably.

“We see this need for many years to come. We believe in the Talk360 team: they are passionate and purposeful, and can execute,” he says.

Hiine expects Talk360’s growth to be further boosted when it launches its Pan-African payment platform in 2023.

The new platform will allow users across the continent to buy products and services using any currency and more than 160 payment methods.

It will also be opened to other merchants. This year alone, Talk360 has added six new currencies, added African-specific payment methods such as OTT vouchers, and grown its partnerships with local solutions such as Kazang and Blu voucher, the company says.