South African Entrepreneurs Thinking BIG: Business ideas, success stories, marketing and innovation

1 min. with a Superhero: Arno du Toit from Virtual Mobile Technologies

by on 21/10/09 at 12:27 pm
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1 minute logoThis morning, we’re chatting to Arno du Toit, the COO of Virtual Mobile Technologies. Arno and his brother Wilter du Toit (CEO, who also co-founded Yeigo, another mobile startup) run their company out of Tamboerskloof in Cape Town, and specialise in the mobile software sector. We thought they looked interesting, in a geeky, Silicon Cape kind of way, so we asked them a few questions…

Arno, what is VMT all about, and why do you guys think you’re so smart?
We focus on extending corporate products and services into the mobile space. For example, Smobi takes the Salesforce offering and allows you to access your Salesforce account via your phone. We have created an underlying architecture, a platform we call RAMP, that manages the whole life cycle, creating, deploying and managing the client’s mobile solution on as broad a device base as possible. This includes the highest level of security on the market.

ArnoTell us a little about ‘Smobi’ and your aim for this cool little product.
Smobi is our Salesforce CRM mobile application built on our RAMP platform. is currently the largest Software as a Service (SAAS) CRM solution on the market. Smobi extends their CRM solution to almost all mobile devices. This is great for them because their market immediately expands significantly. To date they’ve had a solution running on Blackberry, iPhone and some Windows phones. We extend their CRM solution to almost all other devices, like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, HTC etc including the phones that Salesforce currently run on.

Do you think the market in South Africa will ever be a sustainable marketplace for software developers like yourself, or do you think you’ll have to continue to look abroad for profitable customer bases?
Yes I think South Africa will eventually be a good market. Our aim is to enable access to products and services in emerging economies and South Africa fits this strategy. Whether this will be an international company extending their services to the local SA market or a local company taking the lead remains to be seen. However, we do think our most profitable market will be abroad. For now, the local market is a difficult market for new, disruptive tech companies.

Is the mobile sector more hype than reality? Give us your view on the breathless buzz around mobile marketing in South Africa.
No, I think the mobile sector is a reality. Locally the current solutions have major issues with usability and distribution of the solution. If this is addressed and solutions are developed from a customer perspective up instead of available skills in the companies IT shop I believe there will be a much faster adoption rate.

WilterWhat other stuff have you and Wilter done?
We have a cool mobile Twitter application that will be available for free download. There are a few of them around, but Tobi, our solution, runs on just about any phone; not just high-end phones. We have some other cool stuff happening, but unfortunately I can’t talk about them at the moment.

No worries, I understand… If you tell us, you’d have to kill us. What’s next for VMT?
We will be making our RAMP platform available to developers within the next month or two. This will enable developers to very rapidly build secure, agile commercial mobile solutions. We will have a pricing structure for start ups and established commercial guys. The RAMP platform is one of the most complete mobile platforms aimed at the commercial market available at the moment so this should go along way to kick starting the mobile sector.

Awesome stuff, we will be looking out for you, and good luck with the Smobi venture! – let us know how it goes. Ideate readers check out  Smobi here and VMT’s website here.

Fred Roed is the marketing guy in the Ideate crew. Fred is the CEO of web marketing company World Wide Creative and the co-founder of online learning portal Heavy Chef. Fred loves writing about people out there doing marketing right. Follow Fred on Twitter here. View more articles by Fred Roed.

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