I started SafariNow.com in 1999, and over 18 years as CEO grew the business into the market leader for independent accommodation reservations in Southern Africa, processing over ZAR 2 Billion in paid holiday bookings during my tenure, at a peak rate of R320m per year.
Responsibilities and achievements included:
FUNDRAISING AND DEALMAKING: I raised three rounds of funding totalling over R30m from some leading venture capitalists: – Tiger Global USA, Kickstart Ventures UK and seek.com Australia.
TECHNICAL INNOVATION: SafariNow pioneered several new technologies including:
-invention of the “request a quote” booking engine, the basis for many current travel websites.
-1st South African site to use web-to-SMS notifications
-1st travel affiliate program wordwide with front-end white-labelling
-1st South African site to integrate Google maps.
-SEO: Established SafariNow as the clear #1 in the Southern African travel space, occupying positions 1-3 for the most number of ranking phrases, for the most addressable search volume.
LEADERSHIP: Grew from a startup to a peak size of 150 employees in two offices, Cape Town and Nairobi.
STRATEGIC PLANNING: Aligned SafariNow business and product direction for maximum growth.
UX/UI: Designed overall UI for SafariNow, migrated from dual desktop and mobile sites to single responsive design.
PRODUCT OWNERSHIP: I’m a certified Scrum Product Owner, and worked directly with the Development Team, specifying stories and tests of acceptance.
AWARDS: SafariNow won multiple awards as “South Africa’s Favourite eCommerce Website” and “Best eCommerce Services Platform” in SA eCommerce Awards.
In 2017 sold a controlling stake in SafariNow.com to TravelStart and handed over leadership to the COO.
CLICK HERE for Matthew’s profile on SafariNow.com.
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