Domestly co-founder Berno Potgieter talks about winning MTN App of the Year, future plans

When Berno Potgieter and Thatoyoana Marumo flew from Cape Town to Sandton, the Domestly co-founders were not expecting to be crowned the kings of MTN App of the Year Awards 2016.

However, Domestly was not only named as the overall winner of the prestigious competition, they also walked away with the Best Consumer App category.

The MTN App of the year awards celebrates the out-of-the-box thinkers that drive change through real solutions that deal with real problems.

The winners were selected from over 450 entries competing in several categories.

Domestly is aiming to advance the way the world cleans their homes. It utilises technology to connect cleaning professionals directly to homeowners through its app, making the service affordable and accessible to everyone, and creating more job opportunities.

The Domestly app is available for download on the Google Play and iTunes App Store.

Investors in Domestly includes Ernst Hertzog, an angel investor who is a founder of Action Hero Ventures, Hannes van Rensburg – a founder of Fundamo that was bought by Visa in 2011 for $110 million, Adriaan Tromp – an investor  who has worked for Fundamo, Yahoo and Visa, and Hein Carse – an investment manager of Remgro. spoke with Potgieter about their new status and their future plans.

What is Domestly?

Potgieter: Is an app and website based market place you can use to find and book a domestic cleaner in your area. Domestly connects busy people to trusted, background checked cleaning professionals. By connecting the cleaning professionals directly to homeowners, Domestly makes housekeeping more affordable and accessible to everyone. Apart from creating happy homeowners, we also uplift and empower South African women who are unemployed or underemployed.

What was the genesis of Domestly?

Potgieter: The idea and concept for an on-demand cleaning application was born in 2014 when I returned home to Port Elizabeth for the June holidays and wanted to help our family domestic worker, Victoria Ngetu (who had been working for our family for over 12 years), find new job opportunities. When we launched Domestly, Victoria Ngetu came with us to Cape Town. She is a head of onboarding at Domestly.

Is Victoria Ngetu a shareholder?

Potgieter: Yes, she is a shareholder within the company. All our employees receive shares based on their commitment and roles within the company.

What does it mean for Domestly to be crowned the kings of 2016 MTN App of the Year?

Potgieter: It (the MTN App of the Year Awards) creates a great platform for us to reach more users, more consumers. It creates more jobs and allows us to grow quicker and create awareness. The big thing for us is to create awareness out there about Domestly. It really boosted us in that aspect, big time.

What exciting plans you have for the company?

Potgieter: We are always looking to expand. We are currently launching in Pretoria within in the next week or two. Thereafter, we are aiming to launch in KwaZulu Natal before the end of the year.

And into other opportunities. But at this stage, we have a long way to go locally before moving abroad. Domestly is a solution that can go anywhere and the opportunities are limitless for us to expand internationally.

What prompted you and your partner to leave your corporate jobs?

Potgieter: We always had passion for entrepreneurship. We had a passion to do our own things and something that’s new. It takes a lot of courage to leave a 9-5 job.

MTN App of the Year 2016
From left is Domestly co-founder Berno Potgieters, MTN Business SA Chief Enterprise Officer Alpheus Mangale, and Domestly co-founder Thatoyoana Marumo (Photo Credit: Nafisa Akabor’s Twitter page)

Are you happy with the choice you made to leave the corporate world?

Potgieter: Yes, it was a tough decision initially but definitely worth it in the long run – we still have a long way to go. But awards like MTN App of the Year makes it all worth it. We have seen a massive uptake in our consumer growth since winning this award. In the next week, we will be launching in Pretoria and the numbers of jobs we are creating and impact we have in the lives of ordinary people on our platform is a big reward for us as well.

How is Domestly contributing to job creation in South Africa?

Potgieter: In the last 10 months, we have created 600 jobs. Domestly is really a job creation tool and everywhere we expand can create jobs via the app. It’s great and something we need in this country.

Is your solution addressing a South African problem?

Potgieter: I think everybody has a fond story about their domestic worker, either your mother or some member of the family was brought up by a domestic worker. I know when my mom was working late in the evenings, Victoria was like a second mom to my siblings and I. Domestly was inspired by the South African problem of unemployment/ underemployment and it solves a great problem that many South Africans face.

There are more than 900 000 domestic workers in South Africa, so it is one of the biggest sources of employment in the country. There is a great opportunity for many people find employment and be uplifted by a platform like Domestly.


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