Four young IT professionals who grew up together in Tzaneen have banded together to launch a start-up, called ServiceIQ, using technology to connect suppliers with potential clients that in are search of services.
Khashane Motloutsi, Maxwell Maake, Pheagane Kgatle and Phathuxolo Mboyiyana founded Zartner Technology in 2012 to explore opportunities in the IT field. One of the fledgling company’s first solutions was for a security company based in Soweto. The team built a custom system to manage the company’s inventory management, including equipment and firearms.
The Zartner team — all of whom have day jobs working in the IT departments of big companies — realised they wanted to build scaleable software modules that could be reutilised across a large number of clients.
“That’s when we came up with ServiceIQ,” explains Motloutsi. The idea is to provide a platform through which customers can connect to a wide range of service providers — anything from plumbers to physiotherapists — without having to first hunt for them through traditional methods.
Working late into the night and over weekends, they have spent the past seven months feverishly putting together the solution.
Motloutsi is project manager and also serves as MD. Maake is technical lead, while Mboyiyana is the project’s IT specialist and Kgatle is in charge of public relations.
Someone interested, say, in contracting the services of a physiotherapist will access the ServiceIQ platform on the Web — smartphone apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone are in development, with BlackBerry to come later — and ask for, say, up to 10 responses from physios in the Randburg area.
“As long as they are registered in your area of choosing, they will receive admin request on their side, and they will respond. You can then interact with them via instant messaging,” explains Motloutsi.
Service providers receive live requests through a central dashboard and can see if a response threshold set by the customer has been reached. Once a user selects a supplier, the live feed is no longer available as a contract has been entered into. Users receive a quote as a PDF. When they accept the quote, the quote is automatically turned into an invoice.
Consumers can rate service providers, allowing future users to select providers based on their scores. Service providers can rate users, too, so others can determine if a particular consumer is “worth the effort in responding to requests”.
ServiceIQ is free for consumers, while service providers will pay a monthly fee to have access to the system, with the tariff based the variables such as the number of replies available to respond to requests.
The company will also supply a customer relationship management (CRM) module to service providers who sign up, which allows them to handle bookings. The modules, which can also be used to manage bookings for clients who haven’t come through the ServiceIQ system, will be tailored for specific industries.
“We are trying to find a model that is as cost effective as possible,” says Motloutsi.
The start-up intends launching in the healthcare sector first, offering the service to GPs, dentists, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals. ServiceIQ intends advertising in media that target professionals in the sector as well as attending industry events to get the word out about its solution.
“As we sell our idea, we hope to get enough traction to have a good footing in healthcare and understand all the challenges in that sector. Once we’ve dominated that niche and have developed our CRM modules as extensively as we can, we will start going on marketing drives to attack other industries,” he says.
ServiceIQ will be launched in beta on 1 September — along with the Windows Phone, iOS and Android apps — and this will be followed by a “soft launch” on 15 October.
The founders have self-funded the business so far, but are open to the idea of a strategic investor. They’re also keen for mentorship that will allow them to accelerate their roll-out plans, says Motloutsi. – © 2015 NewsCentral Media