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Mobile marketing start-up Mobiz gets R64m funding

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Mobiz CEO Greg Chen.
Mobiz CEO Greg Chen.

Kalon Venture Partners investee company Mobiz, a South African start-up integrating hyper-personalisation into mobile marketing, has raised a pre-Series A round of $4 million (R64 million) from HAVAÍC, Future Growth, Launch Africa, Allan Gray E-Squared Ventures, CapaciTech and Endeavor Harvest Fund’s investors.

This follows Kalon’s initial seed investment and will see the start-up accelerating efforts to expand into the US and double-down on marketing, sales and account management.

In April last year, Kalon announced a $1 million ($18 million) investment in Mobiz, saying it is one of the fastest-growing smart SMS marketing engagement platforms in SA.

The start-up says part of the investment will be used to hire more staff in South Africa and support its commercial expansion to the US.

Mobiz is a code-free tool that helps marketers, enterprises and SMEs create and send SMS campaigns to customers, without requiring any marketing experience.

CEO Greg Chen, who founded the company in 2014, noticed during his 15-year span in the mobile industry that South African enterprises struggled to efficiently target and engage their customers via SMS, says Kalon.

“In South Africa and Africa, there are a lot of companies using SMS marketing, but it’s not giving any value to them because they lack digital marketing skills,” says Chen.

“So we enable businesses to deliver personalised digital content via a personal landing page that can be built easily within the Mobiz platform and deliver on the SMS channel.”

It now works with more than 100 brands, such as MultiChoice, Experian, Home Choice and New Balance.

Data from Mobiz’s website shows SMS messages delivered by the company are read within three minutes, with a 98% open rate. These messages range from special offers and loyalty programmes, to crisis communication and ticket sales.

Having gained market share in the South African SMS marketing space, Mobiz will now target the US SME market, where it sees potential as “its product is easy to use and suited for the big market opportunity in the US,” says Chen.

“We want to help many SMEs easily produce beautiful customer engagements that are personalised at scale, to make them clickable within 10 minutes on their platforms.”

The company notes the SME market in the US 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 part of this growth is buoyed by the ineffectiveness of e-mail marketing in the US (similar to SMS marketing in Africa) where customers are inundated and spammed.

This month, Mobiz is going live, with more than 200-plus beta users in the US now active on the platform.

An early investor in the company, Clive Butkow, CEO of Kalon Venture Partners, says: “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 since the company is going full tilt in the US market, there are plans to raise a subsequent Series A round in the coming months.

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