Rapid Info... Yet another portal...

Let me say one thing. I am the FIRST person to applaud entrepreneurship. To have been part of something - and seen it cocked up - I understand the pain and dedication it takes to start something. The balls required to put you and your idea out there. So, I really hope this doesn't come acoss as a rant.

I'll play it out more as... advice.

Another content portal seems to have launched - with a pile of advertising behind it. Which is interesting, because from the look of the site - it looks like someone's personal labour of love. You've seen the TV ads... Rapid Info.


1. When there are so many, so many open source Web 2.0 engines out there - why not use one of the sexy ones? (Hasn't Vinny Lingham just released one?) The site looks a little 2 years ago...

2. Your main audience, I gather, is still the Generatio Y'ers. 25+. Easy access to Internet. These guys and gals expect shiny, glinty, 3D, Ajax'y goodness. Not old style content lists.

3. What's the big difference? The MOST important question to ask when you launch into the content portal market. Why is this different to MWEB? News24? Yahoo? And with the major revamp to 24.com - there's some stiff competition in the "everything to everybody game".

4. On that note. The most successful web startups have been simple, single-minded ideas that are done really well. Emphasis on simple. Isn't the "everything to everybody" website game over? Dominated by big players who are steadily losing out to the might of the long tail?

5. It's not SEO'd. Yowsers. That's a crime. Especially in the content market - every little keyword should be eeked out to maximum effect.

6. There's no RSS. The world has changed, let's face it. Content must come to YOU, not you to the content. To not plug in RSS, considering how easy it is - is chasing away the X'ers and the Y'ers and anyone who now has Windows Vista with built in RSS. I'm overexagerating. But you get my point?

7. There are no Google Ads in free advertising space. Ja. You don't have to. But while you're trying to get sales through the door - it's not a bad idea to profit off some of your traffic. Isn't it?

8. There's no Contact Us form - just lists of email addresses. Concerning on 2 counts. In exactly T Minus 2 Days - the chaps at Rapid Info are going to be SO inundated with spam. And... you're reliant on email technology as your contact point with customers. No SMS. No lead tracking. No alerts and escalations if your staff don't get back to leads. Nada.

Kudos on the balls to get out there chaps. But advice, help and 2.0 goodness is available FREE on the web these days. Use it - and turn the labour of love into a viable business.

Just my 2c.


  1. You beat me to a post about this, probably inevitable as it would have been a long one, and maybe more scathing!

    I look at this site, and think one thing - ANANZI.

    Also, I think the prime time tv spots for the advert is a complete waste of a lot of money. I think that half of that could have been used to hire a decent design and web company blah blah blah.

    For some reason, I compare TV ads for this kind of initiative in the same way as using a shot gun to kill an ant. Don't ask, I don't know why.

  2. yet funnily enough, ananzi make a lot of money. kind of sad really - evidence that SA is still stuck in the 90s when it comes to major web companies. They have critical mass = large readership = traffic = impressions = clicks = moola.

  3. If you are judging something that has only been online for a month, you are narrow-minded...Was ananzi successful after a month? Was google successful after a month?

  4. Maybe if you guys took a little time to look deeper, you might realise that Rapid Info does offer something that other sites don't. Good, in-depth articles, extensive information and user friendly navigation. This is no regular internet search engine, it's a quality magazine.

  5. I'm not sure what you are talking about here, but you have gotten it all wrong!! I don't really understand most of the jargon in your little rant, but have you taken the time to read any of the content??? The average South African seems to have taken to the Rapid Info concept, so perhaps take some time before you judge! Not to mention that very few people have Windows Vista in SA. Pehaps RSS is something that Rapid Info are working on, they are a start up after all!! Give them some time and you might have to eat your words as well as your cowboy hat...

  6. I checked out the site and personally I thought it was pretty good. Yes sure it may have the same face elements as other larger sites but content is king and unlike all the other sites these guys seem to care about what is actually placed on their site and teir content is GOOD.

    Web in this country is behind and in order to keep SA people happy give them something they know and are not afraid of using instead of going all "new tech."

    As for the tv well it made them a household name in three weeks instead of going the 18 month company start up route. If you have the money why not spend it?

    The other thing you seem to assume is that there is no plan for further development on the site and from day one everyday there is something new... I don't think they are about to just stop developing now that they are out there. That there would be no point to, and if it is a labour of love, as you so put it, I have a feeling that they will go all out over the next few months. They nailed their target market and I think this site will go places...

    The best part about the site - it's clean. Less is more no mess, no fuss, everyone can navigate easily and the best part there are no commercial pop ups etc.

    Anyway just like everything out there - two sides to every story and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  7. I have seen that already they have put up a new section in their Travel Link. Previously there was no Embassy Info now it seems like they have all the Embassies through out South Africa. They are obviously doing updates.

    Go see it here:


    Good job Rapid Info!!!

  8. OK. My gut reaction first. Proper, measured response second.

    5 comments from Anonymous. All written in the same style. If I was paranoid - I'd say it was the same person - but I'm not - so benefit of the doubt.

    PLEASE. WHY remain anonymous. It's just silly. The aim of social media is intelligent interaction on an open, transparent platform. If this is rapid info responded to my post - that's GREAT - let's debate it out. You'll just get traffic, awareness and build your brand at the same time.

    But to remain anonymous? Just looks like comment stuffing unfortunately.

    Good job Andy!!!

    Let me go read through all this stuff and I'll type up my thoughts shortly.

  9. In fact, it is the same person. Comments are posted within minutes of each other.

  10. Hello to all,

    I came across this when checking out my web stats on google analytics. Anonymous, please write your name, I would be intrigued to know who you are! If not email me please... it's people like you that make my day :)

    As for everything else on here please note the following. Obviously there are two distinct sides of the story, those being the internet people spoken of and the other side being the South African consumers of internet. I never designed the site to meet the expectations of the internet world; I designed it to meet the expectations of the South African consumer market that is generally about 5 - 10 years behind the actual internet market out there. This I am sure you would not disagree on as you should know the South African market.

    Regarding the basics of usability, design and so on that rests in the eye of the beholder. You can't please everyone and the site is not aimed at the high internet techno fundie user, but rather at the 27 year old female who simply wants quick, useful information and does not want to keep looking at 2 million different things on offer but wants to go to one location where everything is readily available, concise yet detailed enough. We have had literally 100s of emails/phone calls/comments from people all around South Africa that say things such as "South Africa has needed this for a very long time" "brilliant site" "user friendly and informative" etc. It is obvious that these are the people I am aiming the campaign and the site at. As I stated earlier I am not here to please everyone in South Africa / the World - that would be very arrogant and foolish.

    We have had many people from the internet environment contact us to say they think the product is great and have also offered their services to us on how we can improve. Rapid Info is a living product as it constantly has to change and reinvent itself to meet the demands of the ever changing society we find ourselves in and many have offered to assist us in doing just that. The site is currently being converted to meet the demands for cell phone users (so they can use the site on their phone), downloads, shopping portals, blogging, rss feeds and many other things which people expect to find regarding a site in this day and age. We had to start somewhere and Rome was not built in a day.

    We had extensive test groups carried out for the design, look and feel of the site for our direct target market and have custom built it to their expectations and requirements - it isn't meant for everyone. It also will change over time as the South African market catches up to the general internet market out there so the design of it is not here to stay forever. As it is a new and introductory site we decided to go with what South Africans know and then ease them into what should be... i.e. what you see overseas plus web 2.0 / 3.0 etc.

    All content is from reputable sources and has taken 6 months to do. We publish 90 articles every month and unfortunately mistakes will happen... For this we apologise. Not to mention the 300 PDFs on the site. We are correcting mistakes! We also seek to have original content hence certain rss feeds would be pointless.

    Baby steps and foundations are needed first - running before we can walk is pointless. Not to mention that we had to get out there first before we could start with things like rss feeds. People are coming to us with their ideas and possible new developments and that is what we wanted. From September there will be a major change... and the South African market won't be scared of it because they will trust Rapid Info as a brand to move along with it.

  11. Thank you Kim - you will be successful if you continue to respond to critics and complimenters alike... Good on ya!

    I'm afraid I still don't agree with a couple of your points though.

    a) why on earth do you specifically not design for the expectations of the internet world? South Africans are not as far behind as you think - take a look at any of the big corporates... their content, style, design and online brands are all starting to cater for the "internet audience". Why start 3 years behind? I don't understand.

    b) I can't say I've got any research on my side, but I'm guessing 27 year old females that you're targetting are not as old school as you suggest. They're facebooking, they're researching on google. Content is coming to them - and it's in the form of RSS, web 2.0 and other rich media online applications.

    c) My last point. Experience on the web. The failures and successes of websites before yours, before mine etc. etc. It's all proved that is VERY, VERY hard to be everything to everybody. Name 5 web successes in the last 5 to 10 years (besides Yahoo... who are not doing that well anymore - losing the big deals to more nimble, focussed competitors)... Name 5 successes that aren't single minded. Aren't focussed on ONE thing, that they do really well.

    Google is still a company that prides itself on its original idea - search. If it doesn't launch a business that makes sense of its base, single minded platform (... search ...)

    That's a long winded way of getting round to point C). The content portal is dead. In my humble opinion. Why? Well, it's hard to be everything to everybody. 90 articles a month is an absolutely incredible effort. But there are 90 x 90 x 90 other focussed sites out there providing quicker, better and more frequent content.

    How do you compete with that?

    You don't. You join it. That's web 2.0

    Thank you for being brave and starting a web business in SA! I hope you take this to head, not to heart. It's just the opinion of someone who's been in exactly the same boat before.

  12. Hi there Andy,

    I seemed to stumble upon your blog and thought that I should give you an update. The Rapid Info site has been upgraded. Things are easier to find and I am sure that there is more than enough info on the site to keep you entertained.

    Lemme Know what you think... Glynn

  13. I will certainly have a look.

    I just did.

    It looks like Yahoo?!?! :)


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