Our customers are the reason we strive to innovate and constantly improve our product catalogue as well as price points. That is why we value feedback from our customers, good and bad alike, from platforms like Facebook and Hellopeter. Today we’re profiling one of our long-standing clients, E2 Solutions.
The software development company renders services to top local as well as international professional bodies like the South African Pharmacy Council and Namibian Council of Architects among others. We spoke to the company’s Business Development Manager, Michele Langman and asked a few questions about the company, their services and how the global health pandemic COVID-19 has impacted them in their business.
Can you tell us more about E2 Solutions?
We are a niche software development company. Our two main products are MYMEMBERSHIP and MYCPD that provide membership management and continuous professional development software to member-based organisations. We mainly deal with SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) registered professional bodies who need a software solution that can provide membership management, designation management and online training all-in-one.
Why did you start your business?
The business was started twenty years ago by our managing director (George Dempster) and two ENT surgeons – Chris Joseph and Martin Gil – all who are still shareholders of the company. There was a need at the time to develop an online community for doctors in specific fields to connect, and this has evolved over the 20 years into a very feature-rich and function full membership management system.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
The cost of servers was astronomical, and the server specifications with speed and space were very limiting. In the first few years of business, we spent a considerable amount of time, fighting the servers and trying to keep them stable. Eventually, we gave up with our previous provider, and we moved over to WebAfrica as it was known back in the day. Since then, we have had a cost-effective, reliable and stable environment in which to operate.
The cost of servers has gone down drastically, and the tools to run and manage them have evolved to such a level that infrastructure is no longer a challenge. We have grown with 1-grid.com over the years, and it has been great to have their support over the years. Without them, we would still be overpaying for servers and fighting to keep them operating at maximum efficiency.
What challenges has the business faced as a result of COVID-19 and the lockdown in SA?
Two years ago, we decided to sell the office property that we owned in Northcliff. All employees started working remotely from that time. Remote Working has given us the edge during the lockdown as we had already worked out the teething issues over two years ago. Business continued as usual, and our team has been as efficient as ever. There have been some challenges with things such as children being home now and team members having to take on more responsibility in the home front. We let our staff know upfront that if they are struggling with the workload to speak up right away – this has given our employees a chance to ease into children and spouses being home and still keeping our work strong ethic.
Financially we are stable than ever as more and more companies have seen the value in taking business and operations online. Our member-only platform offering has been of great interest; particularly to medical companies as sales reps have been unable to do face-to-face visits.
When did you decide to move your business online?
We provide online solutions to our clients, so we have always been online. As a business, however, we moved our internal business functions online at the same time that we sold our offices in Northcliff and embraced the work from home opportunity.
What advice do you have for people who want to start their businesses?
We always talk about the five C’s – Community, Content, Control, Cost and Communication.
Community: defining the target market and who you want to appeal to – this should be one niche community.
Content: means what you intend sharing with this community.
Control: covers the control measures in place like putting the content behind a secure login section so that members only can access.
Cost: your business model – what you will charge your community for access to this content.
Communication: means the way you will share this content.
Where did you hear about 1-grid?
It was so many years ago that I can’t remember now, but I do know that we spent a long time looking, and eventually it deciding that WebAfrica at the time was the right place for us, and now 1-grid is the right place for us.
What made you choose 1-grid?
At the time, we were looking at two main metrics; Firstly, we assessed the price of the servers. Then we looked into scalability; partnering with 1-grid (previously WebAfrica) would allow us to expand our service offering to encompass a range of additional resources.
Can you summarise your impression of 1-grid?
We currently use 1-Grid as a business partner in two main areas – website building and server management. On the website builder side – we have been setting up our clients with a public website on their website builder and then plugging in our various membership management widgets such as our online sign-up form – our event registration form – and our member-only portal login page. The website builder has been great for our clients because it’s all drop and drag functionality which makes building and maintaining their website easy for them. Clients have in particularly enjoyed this because they have complete control over their public-facing website and can easily make changes without needing HTML or Design skills.
On the server aspect, we have several servers that range in type from Enterprise Servers to regular Managed Servers as well as Virtual hosting environments. The ability to have this variety is a huge benefit to us as it allows us to broaden our service offering but enabling us to provide customers with a range of options that best fit their needs. The Server support team is fantastic, and they always there to help and don’t mind spending the time explaining setups and options and discussing the pros and cons of the options available. Their guidance and support are one of the many reasons we recommend them.
Would you recommend 1-grid to your friends and family?
Yes, we would recommend 1-grid – they are professional offer great support. They view you as a business partner and not just a client. They have a great product and service offering.
Watch the full interview below: