Ledula, a free South African service site utilising Facebook’s platform to provide friends’ ratings of service providers, has been launched as an iPhone application.
Ledula reveals details on what providers have been used by a user’s friends as well as a star rating given to a service provider and comments made on the social network about the level of service received.
Speaking to HumanIPO, Atholl Tomlinson, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ledula, said the iPhone application was launched because of the increase in smartphone penetration since Ledula was founded last year.
Ledula helps its users find service providers such as plumbers and painters.
“We do this by giving an address book, which is pre-populated with the service providers that their Facebook friend friends have rated,” said Tomlinson. “We believe the best way to find a service provider is to use one that your friends recommend and we use technology to facilitate this process.
“Ledula helps small businesses to scale their word of mouth marketing efforts by getting their existing customers to rate their service and then make the rating available to their Facebook friends. They can start with a free profile but can get an enhanced listing for ZAR249 (US$25.15) per month subscription.”
He said if he and his team were to start over, they would have opted for mobile first because most of Ledula’s users have a smartphone or tablet.
Tomlinson believes mobile penetration in South Africa is “excellent,” though smartphone penetration in the country has “a long way to go.”
The Ledula mobile application also allows a user to call a service provider directly from the application with a single click.
Regarding other mobile platforms, Tomlinson said: “The Android app is in testing and should be released in the next few weeks. We haven’t decided about BlackBerry yet, but will look into it if we have enough demand. A large percentage of BlackBerry users also have an iPad or Android tablet, so they are covered already.”
Tomlinson said the challenges faced when setting up Ledula includes building consumer software. “You have about 30 seconds to engage the user, if the website isn’t completely intuitive, they are gone. They are never going to read a user manual. The back end of the site is much more complex than we originally expected [so as] to ensure… the front end is extremely simple for users.”
Because Ledula uses Facebook’s platform, it does not store user information such as login details, thus users need not fear their information being compromised or provided to a third party.
“Ledula is not just a business. We believe in small businesses as a critical way to address unemployment in South Africa. We want to do anything we can to support efficient and top-quality small and micro enterprises who have effective technical skills, but lack the business skills they need to be successful in their industries,” said Tomlinson.