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Student tech start-up seizes market gap

- Wits University

Four Witsies are on a mission to promote locally produced branded merchandise.

The Addax team

Their tech start-up, AddaxZ, opened its e-commerce ‘doors’ in September. It is a portal to make locally produced branded merchandise available to a wider market than the localized area in which the items are made, thus giving producers access to larger untapped markets, says Mbuso Makitla, CEO and  

AddaxZ is the brainchild of Makitla, an honours student in big data analytics at Wits, who first became aware of the struggles facing local brands to attract customers when he was in high school in Dennilton in Limpopo.

“The idea came when a friend of mine had his brand died out because of a lack of customers and diversity. I have been determined from that point on that other local brands should not have to die due to lack of resources and access to a wider range of customers,” says Makitla.

The online shop’s catalogue includes mostly clothing items such as sweat tops, hoodies, bucket hats, T-shirts, crop jerseys, caps and other items.

Together with Kutlwano Sereko (Chief Financial Officer), Ntando Magana (Chief Marketing Officer) and Phinda Hlawe (Chief Technical Officer), Makitla started earnestly developing the start-up in 2018 and completed it during lockdown this year, and started operating in September.

The students all study at Wits:

  • Sereko – BCom Honours Information Studies,
  • Magana – BA Public Management and Governance,
  • and Hlawe – BSc Honours Mathematics

The main mission of this website is to build a market where producers can meet their target and new markets, Makitla says. Using the existing courier, Paxi, ordered products can be delivered to around 2 000 Paxi branches across the country for consumers to collect.

“We want to ensure that people outside of cities can also experience the joy of online shopping. There is an abundant number of local brands that have been on the rise but lack the necessary exposure and service to make it convenient for all parties involved,” says Makitla. 

The online shop connects local brands and customers. It is a platform for producers to market their products to a wider audience and aids with facilitating business operations.

“At AddaxZ we understand how it feels to be the small guy in an already established market.

To show buyers what other great brands are out there, products need to be brought closer to them. We want to assist producers by focusing on the logistics of marketing and delivering their brands, while they can focus on innovation and production.”

Currently, the start-up only markets local brands and hopes to expand to international brands.

“Our vision is to market both local and international brands to even out the playing field. We plan to cover 92% of South Africa and Africa in the near future,” says Makitla.