Advance started as an idea in 2016. Some of the team from a small software firm in Durban were really keen on local produce, but not keen on the idea of waking up at the crack of dawn to get there. And so, they conceived an app that would enable local producers to create a very comprehensive set of schedules and products against a variety of locations and other settings that would allow consumers to order from the app in “Advance”. We piloted this with concept with our friends Adam and Karen at the Glenwood bakery in Durban and… it worked.. sort of. We ironed out the kinks and eventually broadened the concept to include many different local producers.
Eventually we launched with about 60 producers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Cape Area and even a few in Johannesburg.
We plucked up some courage and entered Advance into the MTN App of the Year competition in 2017 and.. to our great surprise, despite not having a real Johannesburg presence, we were a runner up in the Agriculture Category.
It was a big moment and so we flew back to Durban, put our slops back on and pushed further.
After learning a few hard lessons about consumer satisfaction and, consequently, dissatisfaction, we decided to handle the deliveries and logistics for the consumers ourselves and we packed up Advance as a brand and we bought a cool little van and hired some awesome local help and, Hupu was born.
Sadly this meant we couldn’t service the Cape area anymore and so we told all those awesome producers down there to “hang on, we’ll be back soon”. All except one little bakery called Schoon. They insisted on the vision we had and so we made a special Schoon version of the app for their consumers.
Hupu launched in January 2019 and we proudly started servicing the major suburbs in Durban and up the KZN North Coast. It grew from strength to strength and eventually started turning a small profit. It’s no mean feat taking on the big boys of South African retail but we started to carve a little gap and we attracted the most amazing producers with better (fair) payment terms and smaller margins for ourselves. The way we believe it should be. Producers are still very much the heart of Advance.
Before we knew it, Hupu and Schoon had amassed nearly 10,000 consumers (yes, ten thousand) between them and it was time to fulfil that promise to the producers country wide.
Advance is a commerce engine.
It’s a multi-tenant eCommerce engine that houses tenants and their stores and products, all accessed by a separate set of users.
In non-geek speak, this basically means that we’ve recreated a traditional market as best we can.
If you, as a consumer, have an Advance account, you can shop and any of the stores that are listed in Advance. And when you shop at an Advance store, you’re shopping with that business. Advance is just the engine that they use to trade with. Just enabling the transaction. You, the consumer, will receive an invoice from that store and that business and you can use your favourite payment method (like Credit Card or Zapper) to do so.
Advance focusses on bringing the consumer to the market and the market to the consumer.
Today, in a post-COVID19 world, we’re inundated with requests for stores to get on the Advance platform. From small artisanal producers to some really big brands that are moving online and need the benefit of a robust, secure engine that doesn’t hide their brand behind another.
If you’re a consumer, sign up for an Advance account and browse a massive list of apps and websites that you can purchase from.
If you’re looking to sell something, whether you run a spaza shop or a huge manufacturing outfit we’d love to chat to you about getting your business listed in Advance. We don’t mark-up your product, our fees are respectable and our payment terms are the best in the business.