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Like most startups, Belyve was born out of a frustration of the status quo. Its creator Kolobe Kgwathla started making websites in order to afford his school fees while studying law.
“I studied law but had a strong passion for software development and design. I soon realised that there was a major opportunity worth taking, and ended up first doing freelance web development before setting out to start Belyve,” he says.
“The business took off but I still felt that even though websites were a need, they are usually not as accessible to the general public because of the costs,” Kgwathla tells us.
Now, the company creates an average of about 30 new websites a month. Most of them are for local businesses but a lot of Belyve’s clients are also from Angola and Nigeria. It currently has three permanent staff members together with the odd few interns every now and then.
Kgwathla explains that he wanted to come up with a web building model that simplified the process and made it accessible to virtually anyone running or starting a business.
“Unlike web development agencies and freelancers, Belyve’s novel production line ensures the best website for your business to be live within 42 hours at fraction of the cost,” Kgwathla promises.
The model thus works as follows: customers pick a website that fits their agenda, fill in a form, process payment, and your responsive site will be live within the next two days. The process will put back R1 000. And if you’re keen to have your domain hosted, Belyve will charge you an extra base fee of R115 per year.
As you’ll find at your local furniture or hardware store, the site features an array of swatches, each representing a unique template from Corporate, Startup, Freelance to Medical, Architecture and Events. This is very appealing for the eye and speaks to your non-techie in a way that won’t necessary scare you off.
Building websites is difficult. It takes time, money and skills. Perhaps more importantly is the fact that the process is foreign to people. “There is a gap however in that for most businesses, especially startups, a website can be one of the biggest expenses,” he explains.
Kgwathla goes on, arguing that the entry level to getting your personal site is far too difficult. “These studios and freelancers are likely to charge much more and take much longer to deliver. Drag and drop site builders are good too, but that also means the consumer needs to end up investing a few of their own hours into figuring out the platform and building a proper site,” he says.
“A lot of small business and entrepreneurs know the importance of having a website for their business,” he says. Some examples include Hawk Media’s page which is a retail radio network in Uganda, and Fizio — a money transfer service based in Cape Town.
The company notes that its biggest challenge has been changing people’s perception about the costs and complexities associated with building a new site:
In this age, one of the primary needs for any business is a website. The website is the first thing that people see about your business. Belyve wants to change the world by bringing the best websites to the masses, enabling entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to build other parts of their business while they have a dedicated team at Belyve that takes care of all their web needs.
Belyve’s model allows it to expand around the globe regardless of its operating headquarters, but it plans to corner the South African and greater regional market. After that: Asia.