LEIZ Fellow Simon Telian just recently launched Bountly, a new e-commerce start-up in Cape Town, South Africa. Together with his team he aims to tackle the South African unemployment crisis with a free online platform connecting service seekers with service providers in a secure peer-to-peer reviewed environment. In an interview with Dr Lennart Brand, Managing Director of the Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin | LEIZ, Telian explains what Bountly is all about.
Lennart Brand: Establishing a start-up business in South Africa – not exactly an obvious career choice for a young final-year student at Zeppelin University. What was it that gave you the idea?
Simon Telian: The idea arose when we were examining the South African economy as a whole. We looked at the future of South Africa, and we realized youth unemployment and access to the labour market are – and are set to remain – massive issues. People in South Africa are constantly looking for a secondary or primary income. Migrant workers seek to make a part-time living, people try to gain work experience, full-time mothers seek part-time work and underprivileged individuals aim at building a solid band of recommendations to prove themselves. We established Bountly to bridge that gap in the market, to provide a solution on a short-term or permanent basis.
Brand: Since launching in the Cape Town market four weeks ago, what has the response and uptake been like?
Telian: The response in Cape Town has been very positive, people love the concept and the functionality of our platform. Moving forward, we are very excited about our modifications to the site and updates before we launch in Johannesburg and Durban later this year.
Brand: What are some of the risks associated with using this kind of platform and what provisions have you made to address these?
Telian: Trust and security are major risks for South Africans on a daily basis. By collaborating with a leading identity-management system, we hope to counteract these fears. Once users have undergone the four-phase verification process – social media, mobile number, FICA documents, police-clearance certificate – they will receive a blue verification tick on our system. Which effectively means they are more likely to be hired, so it is in our user’s best interest to get verified.
Brand: You are launching in Johannesburg next month, with other areas on the cards to follow shortly. What are some of your key priorities in order to ensure the successful expansion of Bountly?
Telian: Right now, we are focusing on building strong relationships with our partners and creating a successful affiliate-marketing programme. Besides we are looking for the right seed-funding partner to take our business to the next level. In short, we continue to spread our wings in every direction. Just to give you an example – we have already started negotiations with potential partners that might be interested in launching Bountly in Nigeria and Tanzania.
Brand: Any reasons why ZU students should watch this space?
Telian: Absolutely! We have just launched a new summer-internship programme. I do look forward to introducing some highly motivated ZU students to Bountly and to show them one of today’s hottest emerging markets and industries.”