The Covid-19 lockdown has been a bad time for most of the people and it was a dark cloud that continues hovering among many of us but still to some they never quit on their goals, they remained or at least came out of the lockdown with innovations, products, ideas, etc. I was engaging in one of the Twitter posts on what people had done and achieved during the lockdown and going through some of them, I was caught my attention with one and I could not hesitate to reach out for more and possibly for a feature in the magazine. It is all about inspiring others and sharing African success stories.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, imagine the amount of business that is going on WhatsApp and the amount of work and time needed to respond to the ever-coming messages and inquiries. Can’t we think of an innovation and solutions to this, and thanks to Sabelo who utilized the Covid-19 lockdown to fine shape his idea of creating a Whatsapp API that can run your entire WhatsApp business line?
Speaking on what inspired him, he had this to say, “The idea was to build an AI model to interpret African languages so that we can type them on google and social media without autocorrect then it hit me that chatbots are becoming a thing and every business has a WhatsApp line. So I figured why not build an API that can run your entire WhatsApp line for businesses.”
The WhatsApp API is the brain-child of 26-year-old Sabelo Gabela from Durban in South Africa. He did computer engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of PSG Technology. Sabelo is an all-around tech guy who can build all forms of hardware and software technology.
Sabelo seems not to be looking back and has bigger plans for his startup projects, “From next year onwards, I will do a rollout for all social media platforms so that even influencers can have someone to filter their DM’s and be able to know when big brands are trying to get in touch with them. This would also help big companies manage their customer care lines on social media”
Speaking on the timing of his API had this to say, “Well I think I built it in the most un-certain time possible, during the pandemic. A lot of people like it but they don’t understand it since it’s a very new thing but I’ve managed to get 3 customers for it but I’m also in talks with a lot more and I’m steady working on it because the model is a bit far from completion”. Three customers seems a good start especially for someone who is running on a low budget and marketing and in most cases possibly using his own personal finances. Currently, he has got 2 clients who are currently using his API, a medicine delivery business, and a live video streaming platform.
The engineer is driven by passion and big dreams to provide solutions and simplify things. Speaking on the main reason for the WhatsApp API, Sabelo had this to say, “The idea was to have a WhatsApp version of uber, deliveries and job portals. I even made a smart home version where you can control appliances using WhatsApp. I’m building a small ‘Apps must fall’ movement. I feel like there are way too many apps out there yet the most valuable app on people’s phones is WhatsApp so why not focus on that.
And also considering that sometimes people search and type in colloquial, slang, and mixed languages it will not be always an easy task building something that factors in everything but the engineer seems to be dedicated to improving the efficiency of the API in that regard. “Language has been a big factor and coming up with a way to train the model with slang and processing it right has been tough. I’m constantly juggling between that and keeping the business going. I run a startup so it has its own challenges. I wish I could take on more but equipment is an issue so I’m also looking at funding institutions and investors to help with that.”, Sabelo added.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams, Sabelo seems to be a man of faith and action and undoubtedly he is going to get the future he desires. “My wish is to have a foothold in African tech, I think we will be at a point where we have a large enough network where it can have a huge impact on society at that time. I am working with other startups to create cool products so in 2 years I think we will start seeing the impact of them and how it is of benefit to society. I also want to have a number of young aspiring developers under my wing who are going to also create products that will put Africa on the map. I’m hoping to start collaborating with tech companies within the African continent by then”, said in closing.