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SA’s mobile marketing start-up Mobiz gets R18m funding

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Clive Butkow, CEO and founder of Kalon Venture Partners.
Clive Butkow, CEO and founder of Kalon Venture Partners.

South African venture capital firm Kalon Venture Partners today announced a $1 million ($18 million) investment in Mobiz, which it says is one of the fastest-growing smart SMS marketing engagement platforms in SA.

Mobiz was founded by chief executive officer Greg Chen and chief technology officer Clark Lin, and has a number of blue-chip, JSE-listed companies among its clientele, says Kalon.

The mobile marketing platform, which operates on a software-as-a-service model, helps clients cost-effectively improve their customer engagement.

According to Kalon, it is highly personalised and targeted to create and enhance customer relationships and increase brand loyalty.

It notes Mobiz gathers customer behavioural insights to enrich customer relationship management systems or automate follow-up engagements.

The company will use the investment to fund expansion as it looks to grow its footprint in the US and Europe.

Compared with traditional marketing channels (e-mail, paid ads, printed catalogues, etc), Mobiz achieves a four times improved customer engagement rate with 98% open rates and an average of 15% click-through rates, says Kalon, adding its ability to do so has seen it record four times growth since September 2019.

Importantly, it has managed to maintain this growth through the run-up to, and early parts of, South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, the venture capital firm says.

“It’s no longer enough for brands to tell people why they matter. In today’s world of IOT, brands have to prove why they matter to each and every one of their customers,” says Chen.

“Mobiz believes that personalisation goes beyond your customer’s name and date of birth. With Mobiz, you can ensure your customer experience will be engaging, relevant and appealing.”

The prior experience and ongoing achievements of Chen and Clark, whose history in the mobile technology space dates back to 2005, was one of the main reasons for the decision from Kalon Venture Partners to invest.

“Kalon’s team were impressed with the founders Greg and Clark. We believe they exhibit the exceptional traits we look for when investing in the best entrepreneurs driving disruptive technology businesses,” says Kalon Venture Partners CEO Clive Butkow.

Butkow also commented on the disruptive nature of the Mobiz solution with its targeted marketing campaigns which are deployed to customers within minutes via its integrated SmartSMS channel (at zero mobile data cost to consumers).

Butkow believes this investment shows the importance of venture capital firms investing in promising start-ups, even when times are tough.

“Mobiz isn’t only the perfect product for this time, but will also prove instrumental in helping rebuild in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis,” he says. “VCs [venture capital firms] need to think long-term and take bets on companies that can play a role in regrowing South African business.”

Chen and Lin have been accepted into one of the best enterprise revenue-focused accelerators in the world – The Alchemist Accelerator.

Voted the best accelerator in 2016, start-ups that go through this San Francisco accelerator led by Ravi Belani raised a median of $8.1 million in funding.

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