Five South Africans made it onto Forbes’ Africa 30 under 30 2016 list of promising young entrepreneurs, and the youngest is Nadav Ossendryver, 19, CEO and founder of Latest Sightings.
His online, real-time wildlife-spotting service for visitors to the Kruger National Park is making money.
Forbes calls the Africa 30 under 30 “the billionaires of tomorrow.” Readers nominated 250 potential candidates and a panel of judges selected the final 30.
Ossendryver, nicknamed “Google McDuff,” was 15 when he used technology to satisfy his curiosity for wildlife spottings and established Latest Sightings, SAJR reports.
The website uses crowd sourcing. Visitors who are in the Kruger Park report the animals and events they are seeing live. They report their location, time and sighting to Latest Sightings, which in turn broadcasts it on social media.
Ossendryver taught himself to code an iPhone app on Youtube. “Within three weeks, I had the app out on the App Store,” he told Forbes. “I used social media to grow a community of around 30,000 in three weeks. All of this for only $10 for the domain name for my site.”
Four years later, Ossendryver has one of the most viewed YouTube channels in South Africa with over 215,000 subscribers and over 255 million views worldwide.
The Kruger Sightings YouTube Channel is the No. 1 most watched South Africa-based channel with over 315 million views, according to SAJR.
By the time he was 16, Ossendryver had helped save a rhino’s life, spoken at major tech conferences, and won awards for his online community, CNN reported. Everybody at Google knew his name.
He got the idea for the app after his parents got irritated with him while visiting Kruger Park. “Whenever we came here I used to beg my parents to stop every car passing and ask them what they’d seen,” he told CNN in a 2012 interview. “After a while they got irritated, so I was thinking, what’s an easy way of getting people to share their sightings without having to stop every car?”
Two weeks later he’d created his wildlife-tracking iPhone app.
Rhinos are on of the animals banned from the site. “We don’t ever share rhino sightings because of the poaching,” he told CNN. “It’s a huge problem, there’s poaching more or less every day.”
Latest Sightings has telephone numbers where people can suspicious activity and they’re encouraged to do so. In 2012, a member called about an injured rhino caught in a poacher’s snare in Kruger. A ranger was able to save it.
Born in Israel in 1996, Ossendryver moved to South Africa when he was 8. He liked soccer and tennis and played drums in his school band, but that’s where the similarity ends with other high school kids. He also attended meetings with Google executives and spoke about mobile apps and the Internet at some of the biggest tech conferences in Africa, including Tech4Africa.