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At just 22-years-old, college dropout Carl Visagie is hoping that his social networking app KnektMe turns big, following R1-million in seed funding the startup received from an Israeli angel investor.
The app scans for other KnektMe users in close proximity, using a device’s Bluetooth connection. This allows entrepreneurs and investors who attend an event for example to identify those that they might be able to network with before meeting them in person.
“It’s almost like a cheat sheet,” says Visagie. “The idea is to see what they (other investors or entrepreneurs) do before meeting them,” he says, adding that users are then able to better pick out potential leads before approaching a person to meet them face to face.
He says the app, which has been available on Android since about April and iOS since last month, has been downloaded 16 000 times already.
The idea is to see what other investors or entrepreneurs do before meeting them says 22-year-old behind KnektMe app
At present Visagie is targeting events, airports (he says it’s a good place for business people with time, to meet) and restaurants.
From November he will begin running advertisements on the app, after the conclusion of a recent deal with a company he can’t at present disclose the name of.
Visagie says he also can’t divulge the name of the Israeli angel investor or his company, who injected R1-million in exchange for a 30% stake in the company. He says he met the investor at a conference in London, a number of months ago when he was still researching the idea for the app.
“They (the angel investors) love the idea and that played a big part,” he says.
He says he dropped out of CTI college, a Cape Town college in Durbanville after completing just six months of a one-year certificate. “I was lost for a while,” he admits.
It was then that he and a friend started making websites and apps for 10 months before he began working for then local social media company Superscout.
Superscout at the time was trying to become a recruitment site for amateur rugby players looking to turn professional. The site peaked at 2000 users before shutting.
From the failure of Superscout, Visagie learnt the difficulties of trying to scale a web apps startup and how difficult it is to explain and sell something innovative to South Africans.
He says he’s also learnt a few marketing lessons — in that it is better to appear across a large array of media in a short space of time than in different magazines, websites or newspapers here and there over a long stretch of time.
Visagie says he plans to identify which parts of the app are “nice to have” and then based on this add a premium version of the app.
And what is it like being a 22-year-old business owner?
“A lot (of people) like young tech entrepreneurs, but an equal number don’t trust you… it depends who you speak to,” says Visagie. Going forward he’ll be hoping to bump into a lot more of the former, than the latter. Only time will tell.