Valoyi on how he reached a turnover of R10 million in just one year

Business maverick Donald Valoyi (31) on how his e-commerce business evolved into an on-demand delivery platform

Donald Valoyi started Zulzi in 2014. The business started out as an e-commerce business selling books and electronics to students.

When Zulzi was still an e-commerce business – which the previous financial year had a turnover of over R10 million – Donald noticed that “when we were delivering books and electronics within one hour to students, we were able to convert more students to be more interested in shopping online”.

It was then that he made Zulzi an on-demand delivery platform for just about everything – from groceries, liquor and pharmaceuticals to lunch and dinner.

How did the idea evolve into a viable business? 

It evolved to become an on-demand delivery platform after we identified the gaps in the market – such as the desire for customers to have quick delivery within an hour, affordable delivery platforms, and the ability to shop in a virtual mall since we love our malls in South Africa.

The idea was also to assist businesses to focus on their strength and building their brands without having to worry about building platforms to sell their items or [worrying about] how to distribute their products to customers in an efficient and quick way.

We started developing the mobile application in June 2016 and we also developed the back-end mobile application, which manages the shoppers and delivery guys which we call Zulzi hoppers.

Who is the business targeted at? 
Currently Zulzi is servicing areas such as Joburg North, Joburg CBD and Midrand – with Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban launching in the first week of December.
It’s for people who want convenience, who are stuck in traffic while going to the store to buy items; people who work long hours and don’t have time to go to the mall; and, most importantly, people who have been looking for that one useful app that you can’t afford to delete because it is a ‘mall’ with just about everything that you want.
How do you market or advertise the business?

Nothing beats providing good service to your customers and ensuring that they can receive their items within the service level agreement time frames. We always try by all means to beat our own times and deliver to customers as soon as possible. We also try encourage some of our customers to become our brand ambassadors and share about their experiences and satisfaction with our service on social media.

How many people do you employ? 

We have over 15 full-time staff members and we also have 52 independent contractors and trained shoppers on our network.

What are some of the challenges and highlights of the business? 

The business has been selected as an SAB Kickstart Boost finalist, the announcement is on Thursday at SAB Sandton. Zulzi has also received funding from SAB, something I’m very excited [about].

[A] challenge we have faced so far is finding a big brother who is ambitious like us, who wants to help us take this to the rest of the world and conquer the world as soon as possible.

What are some of the brands you have partnerships with? 

We work very closely with RocoMamas, Nando’s, Banjara, Spur, Woolworths, Pick n Pay and Liquor City. We have a big announcement that is coming next week for one of the big retailers… who are coming on board.
How does the app work? 

You download the app on, enter your delivery address to see available local stores, then order whatever it is you would like. Once the order goes through, the Zulzi hoppers will deliver to you in no more than an hour.

Delivery costs R20 to R85, depending on how far you are.