Nowadays, load shedding is as much a part of South African culture as using “now-now” to indicate your time of arrival.
And it’s only going to get worse.
Which is why when we heard about load shedding app EskomSePush last year, we knew it was going to be big.
Now it looks like the rest of South Africa has caught up.
Moving on to MyBroadband for more on the guys behind the app, and the humble beginnings of what’s been called one of “South Africa’s favourites”.
In 2014, Herman Maritz and Dan Wells were working in the same office, building apps for banks. They both wanted to know when load-shedding was taking place so that they could plan around it.
To achieve this, they began using PushBullet – a service that allowed them to send themselves notifications when load-shedding began.
This service was soon extended to their friends and family, after which they spent a weekend writing the initial app – which they named EskomSePush.
The name was in part inspired by conference calls talking about “push notifications”.
“Some of these meetings had folks with Afrikaans accents and the word ‘Push’ always made our day,” he added.
“The name was definitely inspired by some of those banking folks. But simply put, it’s Push Notifications for Eskom. EskomSePush.”
Six weeks after the app was released, it had acquired over 100 000 users.
Since load shedding started up again last year, and again this year, and is probably only going to get worse, an app like this is bound to go from strength to strength.
As of March 28, 2019, EskomSePush had 1,2 million users.
Maritz and Wells have three pieces of advice for anybody hoping to create their own viral app.
Firstly, users should make simple choices – even if it hurts.
“When starting out you need to iterate fast to find out which ideas work best. This means some of the things you’ve built might not be perfect. But you need to try out a lot of things to see what works,” they said.
They added that when they started to encounter scaling issues, they looked at their original code and were heavily critical of it.
“But, even though we would approach the problem differently now, the code still runs,” said Maritz.
Secondly, patience is the key to success. When load shedding was suspended in 2015, Maritz thought the app would cease to be useful. Wells, however, decided to keep the servers running and we’re all really glad that he did.
The pair have now launched EskomSePush’s “Nearby Chat” feature which allows you to talk to other people in your area.
For those times when you aren’t sure if it’s load shedding or if you forgot to load electricity…
You can download the app here.
You can also find more tips and tricks for staying sane during load shedding here, and here.