BROTHERS LAUNCH TEXT MESSAGE CONTENDER IN SOUTH AFRICA

Digital Content

Brothers Sean and Donovan Bergsma, 20-somethings and owners of the R60m-a-year ComIT Technologies and Elite Mobile companies, have been catapulted into the mobile technology industry with the launch of their iTxt instant messaging service.

Sean is CEO of Durban-based ComIT Technologies and Elite Mobile, while Donovan is operations director. They employ more than 100 people and Elite Mobile is the biggest national dealer of Vodacom-specific direct sales products.

Instant messaging for cellphones in SA is dominated by the first entrant into the market, Stellenbosch-based MXit, which claims 1,87-million users.

Sean hopes iTxt will gain about 100000 users by February next year, using their Vodacom subscribers as a base from which to launch it. The instant messaging cellphone market was still in its infancy and nobody knew yet how big it would get, he said.

He said iTxt was the first instant messaging service with a desktop messaging offering, and offered a variety of ringtones, wallpapers, games and music downloads. It had protection features that blocked undesirable content that had plagued other mobile chat providers in recent months.

Sean started ComIT in April 2001 after graduating with a commerce and information systems degree at the age of 21.

"I've always been interested in business and high-volume consumer markets but I knew ultimately I wanted to be responsible for my own success and in control of my own decisions," he said.

The company initially provided telephone management systems to small businesses.

"Don worked part-time for R10 an hour loading airtime on payphone units when ComIT started working in the payphone sector in 2002," said Sean.

Elite Mobile was established after the Bergsma brothers took advantage of the opportunity to sell airtime and contracts for Vodacom through the ComIT network.

Sean said they were working hard to implement high-end security for users accessing services such as iTxt.

"Mobile technology is no longer just about communicating, it's about networking in an environment tailored to the user's requirements."

Business Day