Customer care app iBleat looking to raise R5m in equity crowdfunding campaign

Two brothers — Neil Campbell and Grant Campbell — are looking to raise R5-million through an equity crowdfunding campaign for their customer care app iBleat.

The Gauteng-based startup, which the two founded in 2015 and has already netted R3.5-million in investment from two angel investors, is looking to raise the money through equity crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa, in return for a 20% share in the business.

The campaign is currently only open to the startup’s own private network and is set to launch to the public next week. So far, the startup has raised just R16 000 from four investors.

Gauteng based iBleat is looking to raise R5m from investors through equity crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa

The app allows users to complete a short form, which on completion is sent to the customer care email address of the company or brand that a user is complaining about.

‘One of first apps of its kind’

The two claim that their app is one of the first universal customer care apps on the market that privately connects customers with any business — or as the two put it on their campaign page: “one app to be used whether you are standing in a banking line, shopping, at a restaurant, in a hotel, on a flight and now even in the traffic”.

The app integrates with customer relationship management tools such as Zendesk and Salesforce and also allows businesses to pass credits and coupons within iBleat.

Grant Campbell (pictured above) told Ventureburn today that the startup would use the R5-million to hire an inhouse sales and development team (the startup currently uses developers based in Jordan) and to run advertising campaigns on the app (see a more detailed pitch here).

Currently the startup has only a three member full-time team, including Campbell himself (his brother Neil works part time in the startup, as he runs his own video production company in Durban).

He describes iBleat as “new school meets old school”, as it uses an app to send customer complaints the traditional way, to a customer care email address. Users are then able to share messages from the app, or “bleats”, to social media.

Since launching at the beginning of last year, the app has amassed only about 800 users — 300 of whom are active users.

In addition, Campbell said data capturers have captured the names and customer care email addresses of about 4000 companies and brands that the app now lists.

Key, he said, is for the platform to reach 10 000 users, which he describes as a “critical mass”.

‘Complaining on Twitter isn’t enough’

Why not just go straight to Twitter with your complaint? Why use iBleat to lodge a complaint about a company?

Campbell points out that two thirds of the time, companies fail to respond to complaints made about them on Twitter.

He reckons that having the complaint go direct to a customer care email address will better guarantee that they are at least taken notice of.

However, Campbell is less clear about whether given that the complaint is sent to their respective customer care email address, companies will do anything about it.

Twitter often proves effective in lodging complaints about a company, because it allows users to name and shame bad firms to a network of millions of users. All Campbell can say is that iBleat users will at least be able to share “bleats” on Twitter.

So, why even bother using iBleat? Why not just go direct to Twitter?

Campbell’s argument is that iBleat can help users to better outline their complaint, as users who lodge complaints on Twitter often neglect to mention certain important information necessary for the resolution of their complaint.

The form that iBleat users will have to complete when lodging a complaint will ensure that they don’t leave any important information out, he stresses.

Apart from low user numbers, the startup has yet to generate a revenue.

But Campbell said the app is expected to generate revenue from a premium and premium-plus option, which charges company’s $8 and $10 a month for businesses, respectively, to list on the app and get added features.

It will allow them among other things, to see all “bleats” directed to them represented on a map geographically in real time, be notified when a user marks his bleat as resolved and will be able to receive user ratings on their level of satisfaction in respect of each customer service issue.

Added premium features will give users access to a console which will shows them how customers rate them in handling complaints.

R3.5m in angel investment

Campbell said two angel investors — Yousef Bazian, who serves as the startup’s chairman and chartered accountant Mark Hughes, who serves as a non-executive advisor — together invested R3.5-million in the startup in 2017.

Bazian is the founder and CEO of Mena Square Advisory and is based in Qatar, according to his LinkedIn profile page.

Campbell said Hughes is a childhood friend, while he met Bazian (while he was still in South Africa) through his child’s school at the time.

The startup took part in a December 2017 bootcamp at Startupbootcamp’s Hartford Insurtech Hub, after making it through thousands of other applicants and made it to the top 20 pitching startups.

Investors Campbell met at the time were impressed, he said. “They said it looks great, they love the idea, now let’s see if it gets some traction”.

Traction is really what iBleat needs. Will investors and users be keen to part with R5-million?

Featured image: Grant Campbell iBleat CEO and co-founder (Facebook)



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