Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

When Marcus Smith came to SA to work with PLP Group, a leading provider of bespoke business solutions, his children broke a drum in the house they were renting.

It lay around for months until he asked the lifestyle team at PLP to find a supplier to repair it. This got him thinking about an all-in-one service that could facilitate this for clients.

The result was Hey Jude, an app developed in Cape Town, funded by PLP Group and launched  in February 2017.

“We offer the distribution of on-demand digital services to global audiences where service is redeemed via a user’s handset,” Smith says. “The audience is time-poor consumers who struggle to get their to-do lists done and need all the assistance they can get.

“In the industrial era, only top management had the privilege of a personal assistant. We disrupted this industry and want to become everyone’s assistant, to help consumers live their lives more conveniently and with better efficiencies.”

Hey Jude is available in SA, Nigeria, Cameroon, Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and the UK. The company is constantly asked to expand the service to other territories, which is part of its global plan.

The company doesn’t share financial information but Smith says that the business has exceeded expectations in terms of scale and relevance, and is finding new markets almost daily.

“We are a subscription-based service and all discounts we negotiate get passed directly on to our subscribers,” Smith says. “Apart from the money, we save time, a precious commodity that money can’t buy. Subscribers also love the user experience and, just as important, want predictability. Hey Jude fits this niche.”

The range of requests include for travel arrangements, accommodation, flowers, and general household emergencies requiring plumbers and electricians. Hey Jude has also planned weddings, delivered gifts, assisted with research projects, taken minutes at a board meeting and made all the arrangements for the delivery of a couple’s first baby.

“The list grows daily,” Smith says. “You want to find out where the best bistro is? The Judes will let you know, make the reservation and give you directions. You’ve just remembered your mother-in-law’s birthday so you need a bouquet of flowers delivered? The geyser bursts and you need to find a plumber but want a few quotes before giving the go-ahead? Your favourite rock group is coming to town? They’ll pay for the tickets and get them to you.”

The company doesn’t share financial information but Smith says that the business has exceeded expectations in terms of scale and relevance, and is finding new markets almost daily. The objective is to ensure it has the best product, and is constantly evolving and improving on the excellent service its customers demand.

“We are incredibly encouraged by the corporate interest in using Hey Jude’s technology to become customer-centric or focused on employee engagement,” Smith says. “To be involved in the on-demand economy is important to any corporate if they want to remain relevant to their customers. Hey Jude has become a platform adopted by industries to assist them with disruption challenges and is delivering phenomenal outcomes in this regard.”

The company wants to empower millions of time-hungry  people at the higher end of the market meaningfully while disrupting the norm in getting things done. For example, while a telecommunications company could connect millions of customers, it might not know why it does so or understand the true value it adds. Hey Jude aims to empower end users with efficient, smart technology through bespoke solutions.

“Due to our unique combination of artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence, we don’t have many direct competitors,” Smith says. “Our advantage is the fact that we use real people to make complex decisions and fulfil requests using emotional intelligence.

“Personal assistant services like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri could be seen as competing but they still have a way to go to perfect their offering. But the early adoption in corporate engagements has seen us competing with traditional third- party service providers in markets where we previously had no presence.

“But our solutions are unique and bespoke so we think right now we are on our own in this space.”