Rugby players Bryan Habana, Siya Kolisi and Faf de Klerk all send personalised messages via the myFanPark platform.
  • Local startup myFanPark gets celebrities to send personalised messages to fans.
  • Prices range from R150 to R4,390, and people are using it for birthdays and special events.
  • It's been so successful that, in less than a year, the company has expanded to Germany, India and Nigeria.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

For R1,500 you can get actor Nay Maps to send a personalised message to your friends or family. Kurt Darren is slightly cheaper at R1,200. And Siya Kolisi is a steal at R700.

Established less than a year ago, local startup myFanPark received a large boost from lockdown as people looked for new ways to celebrate birthdays and special events, says co-founder Wouter Lombard.

The idea behind the service is simple – pick your favourite celebrity, and they will record a personalised message to your specification. The celebrities set their own prices, and can refuse your request if it’s inappropriate.

So, say your significant other has a birthday coming up, and they’re big fans of Bryan Habana or Faf de Klerk. Well, for R1,000, you can get them to send a personalised happy birthday to the special person in your life. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Complete a form asking your chosen celebrity to record a message. You can give direction on the reason for the message, and what you would like to have mentioned.
  • For South African celebrities, prices range from R150 to around R2,500.
  • The celebrity will record the message in seven days.
  • myFanPark will send you the message via WhatsApp and email.

It's been so successful that the company expanded to Germany two months ago, and is soon opening in India and Nigeria. Altogether, says CEO Joy des Fountain, the company hopes to be in ten markets in the near term.

The most popular German celebrities on the service are footballers Roman Weidenfeller and Jens Lehmann

The company says that, in the first few weeks of lockdown, the number of users on the platform increased nearly six-fold and revenue almost quadrupled. Some celebrities were suddenly flooded by requests: actor and comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout, for example, saw a 500% increase in orders. 

Des Fountain believes that during lockdown myFanPark taps into people’s desire to connect to each other during a time when they couldn’t leave their houses to visit friends and family.

The platform has also helped local celebrities who have had it hard during lockdown. “All artists have suffered losses,” says Lombard. MyFanPark gives them an extra source of revenue when they can’t film, perform, or play sport.

So they set their own prices and join the platform. Some don’t have a lot of free time, says Lombard, so they charge more. While others, like Casper de Vries, just really enjoy having fun with the service, he says, and have more "accessible" prices.

Des Fountain says they’ve had very creative requests. Bezuidenhout was asked to do a gender reveal announcement to expectant parents, for example.

There was also a couple in the UK, who due to lockdown was forced to celebrate their wedding via the videoconferencing app Zoom. They were hugely surprised when Jean de Villiers gave the wedding toast, and Kurt Darren played the couple a song – both messages pre-recorded and arranged through myFanPark.

Some requests just really hit home, says Lombard. One came from a woman in Japan, who requested a message from Faf de Klerk for her disabled son. Her family was so inspired by the Springboks during the 2019 Rugby World Cup that they just wanted him to say some encouraging words to her son.