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SMSPortal remains loyal to its roots

posted February 8, 2018
devon SMSPortal remains loyal to its roots

What was started in a Port Elizabeth garage by two students in 2002 has morphed into a business with a growing international customer base and an annual turnover of more than R300-million.

SMSPortal, the successful bulk SMS marketing business used by the likes of Pick n Pay and Anglo American, was started by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University students Charles Stretch and James Pearce.

And despite their success and the company’s global reach, the two remain loyal to their roots.

The company, which has offices in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, has eight NMMU graduates in its broader team, and this year kicked off enticing paid internships in Cape Town for NMMU Computing Sciences or IT students or graduates.

SMSPortal chief executive Stretch said they ran the internships in an attempt to scout the best talent to join their team.

“Being NMMU alumni, we have always had a soft spot for NMMU and the Eastern Cape,” Stretch said.
“Our development office is based in Cape Town, but NMMU is the very place it all started for us.

“If we can build our team from [there] and at the same time give back to the Eastern Cape, that’s exactly what we will do. “We are always looking for young talent who believe they can change the world.”

The company’s innovative application process requires applicants to first solve a programming riddle before SMSing their names to the company for the process to continue.

The next internship – open to two NMMU third-year students or graduates – runs from June 27 to July 10.

In addition to a R7 500 salary for the two weeks, SMSPortal covers the students’ transport costs to Cape Town and provides free accommodation.

In January, the company hosted its first student interns, both from NMMU, for a month.

Devon-Jon MacKenzie, 23, who has since become a permanent employee, applied out of curiosity.

“SMSPortal sent out a little riddle that I needed to complete in order to apply for the internship – and I struggle to back down from a challenge.
“I really had no idea I’d get the internship but I’m super stoked I did,” he said.

“The coolest thing about SMSPortal is that they completely adopted us from day one.”

Among the highlights for him was creating quality software with high quality developers.

The other January intern, Francois du Plessis, 21, who is pursuing postgraduate studies at NMMU, said the company encouraged innovation.

SMSPortal also has customers in Ireland, the UK, Australia, Namibia and Nigeria.

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