A BUSINESS ON FIRE
This article by Johan du Preez is part of a series on innovative businesses in Stellenbosch’s Techno Park, which appeared in the Stellenbosch newspaper, Eikestadnuus.
FireID - The name of this business in the Stellenbosch Techno Park is as unique as its business model and organisational approach.
The members of the group, with Malan Joubert at the helm, see the business as a technology incubator where they identify technological opportunities and from where they shape businesses under the FireID umbrella to address new opportunities. Usually someone within the group becomes the champion who sets up and manages such a new business while the rest of the group provides support.
FireID sees itself as providing frontier technology and chooses to venture into uncharted territory. They identify areas of inefficiency in business or in general life and come up with software solutions, usually as smartphone applications, to solve these. An example is SnapScan, a FireID business which Cable News Network (CNN) recognised as one of 10 African startups that rocked 2014. The SnapScan app allows independent retailers and big chains to accept payments from customers using their mobile phones.
Other businesses in the group are JourneyApps which develops applications for businesses that enable fieldworkers to process data in real time from their cellphones, FireID Security which offers security technology for large organizations, and Fireworks Innovation which turns ideas into tested prototype products for clients, ready to go to market. Although separate entities, these businesses operate in an integrated manner.
To enhance creativity, there are no rules when it comes to conceptualising a new business. They choose to act with integrity and to establish solid, long-term businesses rather than to chase after short-term profits. FireID will not establish businesses with predictable outcomes.
Speed is of the essence for FireID businesses and they aim to develop software within exceptionally short timeframes. An example of this approach is EbolaCare, an internationally acclaimed app that they’ve developed without a profit motive for healthcare workers in Ebola outbreak areas to administrate patients and process statistics. They conceptualised the app one Tuesday evening and by the weekend they already had an operational cellphone in Liberia to test the app’s functionality.
“We combine our great culture and innovative technology to create amazing products,” says Pieter-Francois Theron from FireID. “Our aim is to create valuable things that make the world better, to work with awesome people in a great environment, and to have fun, be challenged and learn continuously.”
And understanding the uniqueness of FireID’s approach makes it easy to appreciate the genuineness of these words.