I gave it all up for South Africa

This is a personal account of how I dropped everything to build a startup that truly benefits South Africans.


At first it was a rushed decision. I wanted to build something great, I just did not know what. The ideas were there and I mean it is true what they say, ideas are a dime a dozen. That's still my philosophy, until an idea is put into action it's about as useful as a cow with AIDS. You can't milk it, you can't graze with it and you can't brag to your friends about it.


A few years ago, four years ago I started working as a software developer in Joburg and I loved it. I say I loved it because two months ago I quit to start working on Slate (https://slatedelivery.com), a fulfillment platform aimed squarely at the ignored small retailers. The goal is simple, offer the a service that no one else can offer right now at the same price point, or even lower as couriers. The process has to be seamless, in fact there can be multiple processes - and I'm going to explain each one of them below:


1, The Slate Tab - It's a 10-inch tablet supplied by king of heavy duty devices, Blackview. It runs SlateOS on top of Android and its primary purpose is to send requests out to drivers manually. Slate offers a service with drivers and without drivers - for companies that want to optimise their dispatch solutions. This is great for warehouses where automation comes second to data-logging and systems to accomplish that are already solidly in place.


2, The Slate Web Widget - This is my favourite feature of the Slate system. You know how websites have courier options, like Same Day, Next Day, in Two Weeks? It goes right there and waits to be clicked by shoppers. Once it's chosen and the purchase is finalised, the relevant details are sent to the Slate's servers which decide which driver receive the request and eventually fulfill it. The store owner gets a notification, or the warehouse - whatever the case is - to prepare the order for delivery. I love how super simple this is. I think it's probably the best solution that Slate offers.


Out of all of this, there is a load of data being generated, and I know that. While we are working on our analytics platform, I can't really say too much about it other than the fact that it's going to kick a**. We are going to give merchants unrivalled data and insane access to it in a super simple interfaca that makes data consumption look like something you were born to do. We don't offer this yet, but when we do in about two months it'll be the best thing ever.


I hear you ask, "James, my customers will have to order through your app, that means I'll have to tell them to download yet another app just so they can shop from me? And then there's the commission. This is just another predatory app that pretends to care about small businesses..."

And having seen the rise of apps like MrD, UberEats and the like, I hear you. That's why Slate doesn't have a consumer-facing app. Your shoppers still shop directly from you with the systems that you've had in place all along. We know you've been perfecting your methods and all you need now is a basically free delivery service. I say basically free because aside from the obvious delivery fee, there is no commission or anyother BS. Realistically speaking, we will need to recover the money we spend on Slate Tablets, but we're going to add value-added services to do that. Your customers will receive a live-tracking link to keep track of their package - in real time. Yes. It is shareable, we've thought about that too. And there's PINs and stuff to make sure the right person takes delivery of the item.


I know this reads more like an ad than anything, but part of the reason is that it is in a way an ad, not for Slate, but for the premise behind it. We are throwing all this time into building a really cohesive platform that's going to look really really good and be really amazing to use and at basically no fee. We want to give South Africans the option. For too long local apps and services have been 'me-too' products, copied from the West. I would like you to think of Slate as the Mxit of delivery services. The next logical step and South Africans once again showing that we can indeed build better than even Silicon Valley. We can solve real problems and we can rise to the occasion. This is a celebration of local is lekker, it's the braai to the rest of the world's BBQ.


Thanks for taking your time to read this, to sign up to Slate please go to https://slatedelivery.com and reach out to us. We would love to bring your business to century 21. Once you've signed up, we'll arrange some time to talk you through the service and examine how it would fit into your business flow.


If you'd like to reach out to me for any reason, you can email me here; james_baloyi@yahoo.com or dial 062 675 2960, more than happy to answer any questions you may have.


Next week we're back to our regular schedule of not writing ads, but controversial topics instead. Have an awesome one!


James Baloyi

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