After leaving a successful job and steady career path while supporting a wife and a 13-month-old baby boy, Joe Hamman started his business, Novus Group, on his 35th birthday using his life savings. His dream was to one day become the preferred provider of media monitoring and analysis in South Africa. The universe, however, had different plans, and Hamman’s entrepreneurial spirit and resilience was put to the test right off the bat.
“Within the first month of my business, I was dropped by my US product supplier, sued by my previous employer for restraint of trade and crashed my car into the back of a stationary vehicle. Mentally and physically, I was in a bad space, having lost all my confidence,” says Hamman.
Then something happened that changed everything. One of Hamman’s friends and former clients called to find out how the new business was going – a question he answered honestly. “I broke down and explained that I had made the biggest mistake of my life and that my family will likely be living on the street within the next few months.
“My friend and his wife, to my surprise, told me that they believed in me and my plans, and were willing to invest up to R1 million in my dream, but they needed me to come up with a detailed business plan and then ‘pitch’ the idea to them the following week.”
Over the next week, Hamman threw himself into developing this business plan, specifying every last detail from software specifications to potential client research and profit estimations. “I pitched the idea to them and while they approved it in principle, they said they needed me to take it one step further. I needed to get three quotes from software developers to get the software built.”
In the end, Hamman’s friends did not invest any money into his business. “In hindsight, I don’t think they ever planned to, but what they did was better than any funding I could have received – they forced me to focus my thoughts, which in turn, restored my hope in myself and my dream.”
In just 36 months, after a very rocky start, Hamman has managed to turn things around for Novus Group. “Today, I run a successful business employing 58 people and servicing close to 350 clients. Our client base is growing almost daily and we have recently signed an agreement that makes our product the exclusive product of choice for one of the biggest media monitoring companies in the world.”
Joe Hamman is a finalist in the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS. For more information on his business, please visit the Novus Group website: novusgroup.co.za.