2018 marks our 30th year in honouring entrepreneurs and the contributions they make toward growing the South African economy. We’re celebrating by catching up with some of the past winners of the competition.
It’s been almost 3 years since you won the Entrepreneur of the Year® title in 2015, how has business been since then?
It has been an incredibly interesting time to be in business. It was an amazing coincidence that the Entrepreneur of the Year® awards were announced on the morning of 2 September 2015, and it so happened that later that day, we finalised the sale of our business to the Publicis Groupe – the 3rd largest communications group globally.
We have, however, remained in the business since the sale and we now consult to the business as a whole.
We have also each started different initiatives since then. I am currently working on my 4th start-up – a private equity company called LLH Capital, investing in businesses that are transforming and digitising the African continent.
Have you made any new developments within your business since winning?
The communications industry as a whole has experienced a lot of changes. There have been market entries of new services and technology. To keep up and ensure that we were always able to meet our clients’ needs, we developed OBI – a software programme and system for managing people on the ground. OBI helps businesses to gamify what they do and helps staff track their own performance against that of their peers. We are very proud of OBI, what it does for our staff and in turn, what it can do for our clients.
What was the biggest lesson you learnt from your time in the EOY competition?
Before EOY, we didn’t focus too much on our own brand building or competitions. We thought that people would find out about us if they needed to. When we entered the competition, we quickly discovered that there was a whole new world waiting for us. Winning was a game-changer and completely shifted our perceptions.
After winning, we received so much recognition and respect from clients, suppliers, and staff. We realised we were actually a force to be reckoned with, not just a small company – something which is very important, but equally something we, as entrepreneurs, tend to struggle with.
The biggest lesson for us was that you need to get your name out there and seek some recognition.
What would your top piece of advice be for anyone looking to enter this year’s competition?
It is important to understand why you deserve the award. Perhaps some advice to this year’s entrants would be to look inwardly and 1) how you contribute to the economy? 2) what you stand for? 3) how have you improved unemployment rate in your community and have you changed people’s lives? 4) how have you contributed to the social fabric of society? What are you proud of?
If you can answer these questions with integrity, then you have a good chance in the competition.
Any last thoughts?
Winning the Entrepreneur of the Year® competition has improved my personal journey as an entrepreneur and definitely our business trajectory. I am still so inspired to do more.