What if I ran Mxit?
A pioneer in mobile chat, Mxit was one of few South African startups that seemed destined to conquer the world. Only four years after it’s peek of 42m users, the service announced earlier this month that it would be closing and donating it’s IP to charity.
I recall thinking about the company and it’s challenges on a morning run some 18 months ago. How would I change the ailing service and grow it into a global leader? By the end of my run I had the solution and set out on a mission to meet with the team.
With help from FNB’s former CEO, Michael Jordaan, I was invited to spend a day at Mxit’s offices in Stellenbosch. I remember the rainy day in August 2014 like it was yesterday. Below is an extract from my original email to Michael Jordaan:
You visit your local mall, your chat contacts update accordingly. You decide on a hearty breakfast and tap on the Wimpy contact as you approach.
You’re presented with a list of preconfigured messages: “Request Table”, “Today’s Specials”, “Call Waiter”, “Call Manager”, “Bill Please”, “Pay R?” etc
Since the chat app knows who you are and stores your preferred payment details, payments become frictionless.
The basic idea was to develop a contextual action platform. Think a remote control for the places around you. Buttons would assemble based on your context; your location, age, time of day, purchase history, schedule etc.
I might not have convinced Mxit to go down this route but it did result in me resigning from my position as a mobile architect and jumping head-first into the startup world. We have been working on the idea ever since.