Cape software developer Maxxor cuts its teeth on the media and telecoms sector, and braces itself for the future

CAPE TOWN software development company Maxxor Software Services attracted more than its fair share of attention after its launch in 2004. Within a year, it was the overall winner in SAB KickStart, one of SA`s largest entrepreneurial development initiatives, and a year later it was nominated by Impumelelo as one of SA`s Top Emerging Empowerment Companies in the software sector.

Since iWeek last caught up with them in 2006, CEO says the company has gone through a rebranding and restructuring. It now operates two business units: Maxxor Software Services, and a digital marketing agency called Epic Digital. It also recently moved into brand new 600m2 premises in the Knowledge Park office precinct in Cape Town`s Century City.

"We`ve experienced good growth since inception. The growth has obviously slowed as we`ve matured, but we managed to finish 2008 with 40 people across the two divisions," says Kassiem.

She explains that Maxxor focuses on custom software development for clients, mostly involving business process automation. Epic Digital, formed out of a merger with an existing design agency, provides digital branding and online marketing services.


Maxxor`s founding trio Kassiem along with Raj Moodaley and - have reshuffled themselves in the process, and taken on some new partners. Kassiem runs the software business, Maxxor, with Moodaley as technical director and with Zaheer Hamdulay as development manager. Epic is headed up by Baboo, with Natascha Petersmann as the creative director.

Maxxor`s focus during this time has been on the high-growth sectors, explains Kassiem. "For the last few years this has been media, telecoms, construction and retail. With the current financial crisis sweeping the globe we see some changes on the horizon and will probably shift strategy accordingly," she adds.

Key clients include MWeb, Media24, Woolworths and Investec. Together with partners it also services other big clients like Pick n Pay and Fedics. A new client in the media sector is Destiny, a glossy magazine for businesswomen. "We recently completed a full community site for Destiny. It is called DestinyConnect and provides networking opportunities for SA entrepreneurs."

As for the hurdles Maxxor has had to overcome: "cash flow", or the lack thereof, comes first says Kassiem. "What makes it harder is that banks are getting even stricter in their lending policies. Our advice to other companies starting up is to get profitable as quickly as possible, and build up a cash buffer so that you don`t need to rely on debt funding, even for working capital." The quest for developers with the right skills and experience, and retaining them, is another big hurdle, she remarks.


These challenges aside, Kassiem remains upbeat about 2009. "Our vision for Maxxor in the coming year entails improving our efficiency in delivery, improving our service levels, securing more skilled developers and growing our digital division. We celebrate our fifth birthday this year and we hope we sail through it unscathed in light of the current economic crisis," notes Kassiem.

"Companies catering solely to the European and North American outsource markets have been badly burnt already. The rest of us who market to local clients haven`t been affected as much. From a professional services perspective, those of us with a strong client base will continue to thrive. IT has become key to many company`s operations. They might cut their marketing budgets, but they can`t afford to lose operational efficiency by cutting their IT budgets drastically."

One of Kassiem`s biggest bugbears is still the price of bandwidth. "Office connectivity and hosting facilities for our sites and applications constitutes one of our biggest costs. I hope 2009 is indeed the year in which cheap bandwidth arrives in SA."

Tags: Software