Yellow Pages and Brabys have long dominated the online directory market. Now, though, a new SA start-up, Safindit, is hoping to muscle in on the incumbents’ turf — and add a different twist to the service.
Safindit MD Marco Pulvirenti says the start-up wants to enhance the online directory business and do something that none of the other services offered.
“We don’t really want to be called an online business directory — in a sense it is what we do, but we are much more than that,” he says.
Instead of simply supplying contact details and a basic description of directory listings, Safindit will add several new features that are not yet available on competing sites in SA.
“It took a year for us to develop this service. We looked at local and international trends and tried to see what was lacking from all the available sites in SA,” says Pulvirenti.
He says South Africans don’t consume online information in the same way they used to. Thanks to the evolution of the Internet, they want much more than a simple listing.
Pulvirenti is reluctant to supply too many details of the site’s plans. However, he says Safindit will ultimately offer a mash-up of social networking, maps and directory listings.
Users will be able to review listings and add commentary on services listed on the website. The idea is to allow users to make an informed decision about the services they use. He says businesses will not be allowed to review their own services and a team from Safindit will vet each review and comment.
“You have to be registered to make changes to the listing,” says Pulvirenti.
Users will be able to upload videos and photos of their experiences with businesses that are listed.
Safindit also includes a map with each listing, and users can get directions from the site.
Users will provide most of the directory entries and additional services around each listing. To add to the more social side of the business, the site will also feature an events guide for SA, ranging from music to theatre and a magazine section with articles about the services listed on the directory.
“It’s about discovering local information, not just a name and address. We want this to be the place to go to find out what is happening in your area,” Pulvirenti says.
Safindit will use an advertising model to generate income. However, it will also have a few paid-for features for companies.
One such offering will allow companies to pay for a listing where users will not be able to change any of their details. “We plan to have a dozen modules we intend to implement over the next few months,” says Pulvirenti.
He hopes to take the newly developed site live this week.
Safindit is backed by an angel investor, though Pulvirenti won’t say who it is. This investor has a majority stake, with Pulvirenti holding the rest of the shares. — Candice Jones, TechCentral
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