A business created for students, by students

Mpodumo Doubada – founding CEO of Pimp my Book, a chain of campus stores founded in 2006 at the University of Cape Town (UCT), is a young entrepreneur making waves in the education sector. 31-year-old Doubada from Cape Town founded the business on the premise of buying and selling used textbooks. Since the business was founded, Pimp my Book has expanded to serve a number of universities across the country.

Doubada recounts his own university experience, noting the shared struggle to source textbooks at an affordable price, and how this inspired him to launch Pimp my Book from his dormitory accommodation at the UCT. “I wanted to create a one-stop platform where students could sell their used textbooks for cash as well as purchase the books they need,” says Doubada, recalling his first year of university where he began selling his friends’ textbooks on consignment, taking a 10% commission on all sales made.

Within weeks, his fledgling informal business was flourishing, with students lining up to buy and sell used textbooks. However, the innovation however didn’t stop there. Doubada and his team of now 17 full time staff members, discovered that with increased demand and the setting up of formal stores, a proper, efficient point-of-sale system was required.

The struggle for Pimp my Book however was to find a system which allowed for the buying back of used textbooks, and not only recording the sale thereof. Doubada and his team worked with developers to create their own point-of-sale system unique to their business, which would allow them to track all stages of transactions taking place. “Creating a system that works for our unique business has been one of our greatest achievements, allowing us to expand to multiple stores. I no longer need to manage stock manually, but can monitor stock levels and performance for all stores from the convenience of my office,” he says.

Doubada is proud of his business’ innovation, and credits the success of the business to his team of young, diverse, creative individuals who have all brought their talents to the team. The team is also diverse in terms of experience – with many branch managers having been trained internally from entry level to management. “I look for people who are eager to make something out of their life – I do not train people on the job alone but rather teach them the character and discipline required to make our business work,” he explains.

Having graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting as well as a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA), Doubada has dedicated his entire career to Pimp my Book, and has big dreams to expand his stores into every university in the country. Ultimately, he believes that his business is making a positive contribution to tertiary education in South Africa, pointing to the Fees Must Fall movement which has come about in recent years in the sector. Pimp my Book provides a workable solution to thousands of students who cannot afford brand new textbooks – ultimately helping to ease the burden of the high cost of tertiary education.

Mpodumo Doubada 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 Pimp my Book website: www.pimpmybook.co.za.