Breaking tech barriers Snapt is a local tech start-up that offers high-end virtualised and cloud-based load balancing, web acceleration and security software. After receiving a large capital injection, Snapt plans to expand its international client base.
localtech start-up Snapt, which makes websites and servers run better, more securely and stay online, has secured $1m in funding from former telecommunications directorgeneral and well-known businessman Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners. The capital will allow it to expand its operations and build its brand internationally.
Snapt, which was founded in 2012, has grown over 400% annually and currently serves 10 000 customers in 50 countries, including Intel and NASA. Headquartered in Johannesburg, where it employs 15 people, Snapt opened an office in Atlanta last year. About 60% of its customers are in the US.
“[Our customers are] any company or service that has a website that is critical to its business,” says CEO Dave Blakey. In more technical terms, Snapt offers “high-end virtualised and cloud-based load balancing, web acceleration and security software”.
Reliable websites often require “balancing the load” by having more than one server, so users are redirected to other servers with optimal performance in the case of a server going offline or underperforming. Some of its clients who run larger websites, says Blakey, have hundreds of servers to ensure a continuous online presence.
“As soon as you have more than one server, you need an intelligent solution to send users to the right server. What if you have two [servers] and one goes offline? How do you make sure the users go to the one that is online and if it is slower, how do you make sure they use the faster one?” says Blakey.
“The Snapt product sits in front of businesscritical web applications or servers and monitors the performance, and if they are misbehaving it will take action, and alert the client.”
Snapt products also ensure there is web acceleration, which reduces the size of webpages and thereby the load on the server, enabling pages to load faster. Companies like Amazon and Google spend a lot of time doing research on how to improve web acceleration since a slower website means they lose huge amounts of money, he says.
Snapt’s security products include an analysis of a potential customer’s website and determining the type of security features that will protect it from any online security breaches.
The company’s products are unique because, unlike many of their competitors who use hardware-based software, Snapt’s offerings are virtual machine (VM) and cloud-based.
“Our competitors have huge distribution channels and have to ship very expensive devices, which need maintenance, to various parts of the world. We sell our products online. You can go to our website and download a trial right now and be running in five minutes. It’s a very different business model from that point of view. Because we leverage open-source software, we are able to go directly to the client at a much more competitive price point,” explains Blakey.
Snapt’s products are cheap in comparison to its rivals’, and customers can opt for monthly or annual billing options. “And you can cancel at any time, you are not locked in and you get a free trial,” he says. This is a strategic move on Snapt’s part, as it often targets smaller companies with the hope that as their businesses expand, they will continue using Snapt software.
The company also provides 24-hour support and the tech people from clients’ sites can receive help around the clock.
Being the smaller, relatively unknown company that competes with some of the world’s technology giants has been challenging for the business, Blakey says. The investment from Convergence Partners will help to build brand awareness.
Blakey says it is clear that there is demand for Snapt’s product, “but the challenge is that we are competing with the big tech companies that are well known. We have a brand awareness problem, and it takes money to market in the US and Europe and trade shows are quite expensive.”
He says their goal in the next year is for all potential customers to consider them as an option, just as they would the big companies competing in the same space.
“The challenge is that we are competing with the big tech companies that are well known. We have a brand awareness problem, and it takes money to market in the US and Europe.”