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Matthew Swart

Matthew Swart

Matthew founded SafariNow.com in 1999, and over 18 years as CEO grew the business into the market leader for independent accommodation reservations in Southern Africa, processing over ZAR 2 Billion in paid holiday bookings during his tenure, at a peak rate of R320m per year.

Matt's responsibilities and achievements included:

FUNDRAISING AND DEALMAKING: Raised three rounds of funding totalling over R30m from some leading venture capitalists: – Tiger Global USA, Kickstart Ventures UK and seek.com Australia.

TECHNICAL INNOVATION: SafariNow pioneered several new technologies including:

-invention of the “request a quote” booking engine, the basis for many current travel websites.
-1st South African site to use web-to-SMS notifications
-1st travel affiliate program wordwide with front-end white-labelling
-1st South African site to integrate Google maps.
-SEO: Established SafariNow as the clear #1 in the Southern African travel space, occupying positions 1-3 for the most number of ranking phrases, for the most addressable search volume.

LEADERSHIP: Grew from a startup to a peak size of 150 employees in two offices, Cape Town and Nairobi.

STRATEGIC PLANNING: Aligned SafariNow business and product direction for maximum growth.

UX/UI: Designed overall UI for SafariNow, migrated from dual desktop and mobile sites to single responsive design.

PRODUCT OWNERSHIP: Matthew is a certified Scrum Product Owner, and worked directly with the Development Team, specifying stories and tests of acceptance.

AWARDS: SafariNow won multiple awards as “South Africa’s Favourite eCommerce Website” and “Best eCommerce Services Platform” in SA eCommerce Awards.

In 2017 Matthew sold a controlling stake in SafariNow.com to TravelStart and handed over leadership to the COO.

See his new venture formbar.co.za in partnership with form.bar, leaders in parametric furniture design.