Grenade lobbed into online media
The Johannesburg-based start-up wants to allow publications, large and small, to manage their digital content and launch mobile applications without the usual development expense. By Craig Wilson.
A new Johannesburg-based digital content management company, Grenade, wants to help publishers manage their content and take it to the mobile Web without them breaking the bank in the process.
Founded in February by Colin Daniels, 30, and Robin Pietersen, 29, Grenade offers two content management products, one for Web and one for mobile.
Grenade majority shareholder Prefix Technologies originally owned Web content management software called Preditor, which Grenade acquired at the time it was launched. Soon after, Grenade set to work on its mobile content product, MoPublication.
Daniels, who is Grenade’s CEO, says the company is now becoming more of a product development company and is less focused on service-type work. “We’re looking at the mobile space in particular and at getting our products into other emerging markets,” he says.
Some of the company’s clients include Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly and Engineering News, Ndalo Media’s DestinyConnect, cars.co.za, and BDFM’s BDlive and Financial Mail websites.
Though the company intends to remain based in Johannesburg, Daniels says it has built its products and services with other African countries in mind.
“We’re talking to companies in East and West Africa and are looking for local partners in those regions. We’re already talking to a number of Kenyan companies about their potentially reselling our products.”
Although local resellers will handle sales, Grenade will provide support from its Johannesburg office. “We’re looking to create white-label enterprise versions of MoPublication that partners can resell,” Daniels says.
Many digital agencies don’t have mobile development skills, he says. “We were getting a lot of requests from clients for mobile apps because they’re still very expensive to build, maintain and update. We were creating the applications from scratch every time.”
This prompted Grenade to create a model where it could offer customers mobile apps for their content by way of subscription rather than development fees. The company’s fee of $49/month includes support and upgrades.
Despite being the largest economy in Africa, SA continues to suffer from a lack of highly skilled developers according to Daniels. He says the same problem exists in other parts of Africa and that problem is compounded by the fact that mobile development is far more complicated than Web development.
Daniels was previously digital publisher of Avusa’s The Times Online and Times Live websites. He also started Avusa’s iLab digital research and development unit. He’s worked as a new media lecturer at Rhodes University, and has served as the head of digital for Auto Trader.
Before launching Grenade with Pietersen, Daniels took an 18-month sabbatical, during which time he completed an MBA.
Daniels and Pietersen worked together at Avusa and Auto Trader. Pietersen is a designer and developer and is Grenade’s chief technology officer. He was instrumental in the rebranding, design and interface development of publications like Times Live, Sowetan Live, Financial Mail, Sport Live, Auto Trader and BDLive.
Grenade employs six people. “We’re hoping to continue to grow,” says Daniels. “Our main objective is to keep overheads as low as possible and working on products it’s possible to do that.” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media