2go founders able to spurn investors and ride growth wave

As their social media site 2go hits the 20 million user mark, founders Alan Wolff and Ashley Peters are seeing their African expansion develop exactly according to plan. The site is growing so quickly, in fact, that the pair can afford to reject offers of investment that they were so desperate for back at the project’s initiation.

Having been rejected by investors in 2008-2009, Wolff and Peters now want to get on with their project and its expansion alone, maintaining full ownership as the company goes from strength to strength.

“We have been approached by investors but getting acquired is not something we think about at the moment,” they said in an interview with Ventures Africa. “We are experiencing rapid growth so I don’t believe the timing for an acquisition would be right, although we may look at expansion capital in the future.”

Humble origins

Conceived of by the computer science students in Cape Town back in 2007, the pair originally hoped to create a novel piece of software for young university-based users much like themselves. With vague ideas of developing a functional, colourful, fun product, they set to work to see what would come of their pet project.

Working from their parents’ houses, the 2go team initially started as a group of four friends. The other two co-founders left the company in 2008, leaving Wolff and Peters to complete the project on their own. Deciding to expand the project to include users outside of their own university network, little did the friends know that the site would see such a surge over the next five years, reaching over 20 million users across Africa, with registration rates of up to 50,000 new users a day.

Rapid growth

With such high registration levels, the pair has been forced to expand their team to ten. Visions of further growth mean that the 2go founders are constantly on the look-out for compatible new developers to bring onto the team. However, Wolff and Peters do not want to expand for the sake of appearance, saying: “We are proud of having a small team supporting one of the largest networks in Africa.”

While 2go is a South African born and bred product, the site has seen its greatest uptake in the Nigerian market, where it recently knocked Facebook from the top spot in terms of user figures. With 2go hitting the 10 million user mark in Nigeria, Facebook trails behind with a sad 5 million. But how did the product get such a wide following in the West African country?

Nigeria success

2go’s success in Nigeria is, of course, no accident, with Wolff and Peters revealing that entry to the Nigerian market has been a key facet to their expansion plans since 2009. With such a large and active user base available, the pair knew that their first point of expansion would be Nigeria, saying: “The telecommunications market in Nigeria was growing massively and it was obvious to us that if we could provide them with a cheap and effective way to communicate and socialise online, we would succeed.”

Having started the 2go project while still at university, Wolff and Peters have achieved great success at a very early stage in their careers. The very low start-up cost of the company also means that the duo only stand to gain as the product expands to new markets. It is, then, no surprise that the pair only has thoughts for 2go at the moment, with no intention of jumping ship to other projects.

“Our user experience can be improved even further and we are starting to look towards offering extra features for smartphones,” they say. “We will continue to grow the network rapidly and to new heights.”

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