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WAR OF THE AI Tech giants are battling for supremacy “With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.”


Founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX



16014 7

9 772313 330006





What is IoT all about? The Internet of Things (IoT) is the  internetworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items — embedded with electronics,  software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity  that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.

Logistics optimization

Cloud and Services + Platform

Factory optimization

Smart grid

Integrated operations centre

Smart Factory

Smart City Intelligent medical devices

Home energy management Traffic flow optimization

Comms network optimization Hospital optimization

Smart Highway Smart Hospital Automated car system

Connected ambulances

Intelligent digital signage

Connected traffic cameras

Contents November 2017

COV E R STO RY 20 Biggest business opportunity

How artificial intelligence is poised to transform every aspect of the global economy, and the tech giants that are leading the race towards domination By: Harry McCracken

“As AI begins to touch every aspect of their businesses, the tech giants are jousting to recruit superstars in the field, pilfering brainpower from academia and each other.”


S P E C I A L F E ATURES 40 Staying ahead

of the curve

How South Africa’s most productive have built their brands and kept them running smoothly

12 The future of MTV 16 Shooting for the moon

with John Sanei

“Looking back and trying to suspend the successes of the past has been the downfall of countless great brands and organisations.” (Page 20)



“Netflix wants to become Disney - before Disney can become Netflix.” (Page 38)



32 Can Netflix slay the mouse?

06 From the Editor 08 Recommender 72 Cloud ERP implementation 76 Fast Bytes & Events 80 Get branded

By Nicole LaPorte

36 Empowering youth through

innovative banking

70 Is the social media manager

role obsolete? By Tacita McEvoy


By Nadia Hearn


HOW TO MAKE THE 1 000-DAY MARK AS AN ENTREPRENEUR Passion, self-confidence and resilience under stress are core traits of successful entrepreneurs. Here are some top tips to help you achieve sustainable success. Passion is the primary motivation for starting a new business. That’s according to nearly half of the South African entrepreneurs who participated in the 2017 Santam Start-up Survey. The survey, which comprised a sample of 606 entrepreneurs from all industries, also found that 28,2% of these individuals were motivated by the desire to be their own boss, while 11,8% were attracted by the time flexibility that being an entrepreneur typically offers. Succeeding as an entrepreneur is not easy, for the most part. For most start-ups, getting past the first three years is a momentous achievement because it takes hard work and determination to push through to achieve that level of sustainable success. The ability to cope under pressure has often been cited as the most important trait for entrepreneurs. This trait, coupled with adaptability and self-confidence, is what usually sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest.

Here are some top tips for becoming a successful entrepreneur: 1. Learn to cope with pressure. Entrepreneurs frequently juggle multiple roles and face considerable pressure to make their start-ups lucrative; making a business a success is usually likened to the founder’s own identity and sense of self-worth. Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to keep calm and overcome challenges, industriously using their skills and all the resources at their disposal. 2. Become increasingly agile. In a fast-paced business environment, entrepreneurs need to be able to adjust to change seamlessly. This includes adapting a business model to respond to shifts in the market or integrating relevant technological advancements. 3. Nurture self-belief. Entrepreneurs need to be confident in their abilities and offering in order to persuade others to buy into their vision. With this comes a maturity to assess where a business is currently at and what needs to happen in order for it to grow. Self-confidence is a strong root for resilience – a core ingredient for making the 1 000-day mark.

wake up every morning excited to put in the hours, then their companies are unlikely to last in the long term. 5. Pursue discipline. Time management is tricky. Flexibility is something most people pursue, but when it’s unlimited, a certain level of discipline is needed to ensure the job gets done. It’s advisable to draft a detailed calendar and stick to a daily schedule. 6. Take risks. Business founders need to constantly take action, including calculated risks. Effective risk management is vital for business growth. Think through the consequences and be prepared to make some mistakes. Failure is inevitable on the journey to success. 7. Partner with the right people. Entrepreneurs need to build up a team of trustworthy individuals who share their vision and values. Additionally, it can be beneficial to learn from other entrepreneurs who have already made their 1 000-day mark. Building up a business comes with significant risks, so it’s advisable to partner with people who will take your business forward.

4. Love what you do. Perhaps the biggest marker for success, passion drives perseverance, which is pivotal for any start-up. If entrepreneurs don’t Insurance good and proper

Santam is an authorised financial services provider (licence number 3416).

From the Editor “Ultimately, time is our greatest resource today, and maximising on the few hours we get has become increasingly essential.”

THE SECRET We have all been there. Looming deadlines, tight schedules and a vast amount of work to do with seemingly inadequate resources or manpower. Yet we somehow get it done or at least spectacularly fail while trying. Being productive is more about being organised than it is about planning. We all have different ways of channelling our inner productivity aura. For some, the illusion of chaos is an effective form of organisation (picture a disorganised desk and an equally disorganised desktop), while for some being super organised, neat and having a close attention to detail that borders on obsessive-compulsive disorder does the trick. Ultimately, time is our greatest resource today, and maximising on the few hours we get has become increasingly essential. This is our Most Productive People in Business issue – we sat down with some of the leading people in business to understand what makes them tick. What works for them might not necessarily work for you, but you never know until you try. Ultimately, you are the king or queen of your castle. In the spirit of being productive I have listed three elements that may just make you more efficient: DELEGATING More often than not we spend a lot of time doing tasks we could easily delegate to equally capable team members. The main aspect with delegating is simply ensuring the instructions are clear, and enough guidance and support is available. If you have spent time building the perfect team then trust them to get certain things done. RECHARGE Take a walk, go to the gym or even go for a jog. Sometimes we get so caught up in our busy schedules, we forget to actually give our bodies time to breath. Studies have shown how effective this is. As little as 15 minutes a day could have a massive influence on your health and psyche.


HARNESS THE TECH Technology is meant to improve our lives and make us more efficient, NOT make our lives more complicated and (for some) unbearable. Harness technology and bend it to your will. Dropbox, Google Docs and Skype, among many others, are a few tools that can simplify your life. Choose what works for you and become efficient in this exciting tech era. There are a billion apps but you won’t need them all. Our cover personality, Elon Musk, is one of the leading minds in tech globally. Much has been said about the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and major corporations are scurrying to get ahead in the race. The question is; how far can we go with AI and how will this affect the global landscape? Our cover story on page 20 investigates this. There are no certainties in life, but the one certain thing I know and can feel is we are heading for interesting times from a tech perspective. Read, enjoy, deliberate and question, but above all, take something away from this edition. I would like to officially welcome my deputy editor, Saarah Survé, to the team and the new chief sub-editor, Walter Hayward. You have both been a breath of fresh air and I look forward to producing more banging issues with you.

Evans Manyonga @Nyasha1e



Saarah Survé


Stacey Storbeck-Nel





Jacky Villet, Kevin Petersen, Mandla Mangena,

EDITOR Evans Manyonga


Corey Brickley, Jennifer Campbell, Daniel Zender




By Digital Publishing

Charles Burman, Catherine Crook


Lisa-Marie de Villiers CA(SA)



MDA Distribution



Joe Mansueto, Mansueto Ventures


Robert Safian




Jon Gertner, Rick Tetzeli




Jill Bernstein


Susan Ball

Lori Hoffman



Louise Marsland, Anneleigh Jacobsen, Prof. Walter Baets, Pepe Marais, Alistair King, Koo Govender, Abey Mokgwatsane, Kheepe Moremi, Ellis Mnyandu, Thabang Skwambane

Florian Bachleda




Liesbeth Botha, Nadia Hearn, Nicole LaPorte, Levi Letsoko, Sonwabo Macingwana, Evans Manyonga Harry McCracken, Tacita McEvoy, Siphosethu Nini, Jonathan Ringen, Saarah Survé


Cover: Gallo Images/Reuters Images/ Bobby Yip. Adobe Stock,, Nathan Bajar,

Sarah Filippi Publisher and Editor-in-Chief:


Robbie Stammers

Alice Alves

Physical address: 176 Main Road, Claremont, 7700, Cape Town Postal address: PO Box 23692, Claremont, 7735 Telephone: +27 (0) 21 683 0005 Websites:




No article or any part of any article in Fast Company South Africa may be reproduced without the prior written consent of the publisher. The information provided and opinions expressed in this publication are provided in good faith, but do not necessarily represent the opinions of Mansueto Ventures in the USA, Insights Publishing or the editor. Neither this magazine, the publisher or Mansueto Ventures in the USA can be held legally liable in any way for damages of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from any facts or information provided or omitted in these pages, or from any statements made or withheld by this publication. Fast Company is a registered title under Mansueto Ventures and is licensed to Insights Publishing for use in southern Africa only. NOVEMBER 2017  FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A   7

Recommender What are you loving right now?

Favourite brow fix: MUD’s Brow Fix

Favourite travel destination: Club Med Bintan Island

There’s a small island to the south of Singapore where a golf course – like nothing I’ve ever played – exists. A quick flight, ferry, and room at Club Med Bintan Island will put you next to the Ria Bintan Golf Course, the crown jewel of South East Asia. Carved out of a forest, with fairways weaving between inland lakes and coastal edges – it’s the most insanely beautiful golf course you could imagine. If you love the sport, I highly recommend letting Club Med get you onto the first tee box at the Ria Bintan. Craig Rodney Founder of @SouthAfrica on Instagram

Favourite travel destination: Barcelona, Spain

If ever I were to relocate, Barcelona would be the city. It’s like Cape Town on steroids; the culture, whether it is how friendly and willing the locals are to assist you, to the efficiency of the transport systems. And, of course, everything Antoni Gaudí touched is pure magic. The attention to detail and colour palettes are absolutely breath-taking and leave you in total awe of this artist’s creative ability. How one man envisioned and encapsulated a city’s beauty with his work is surreal, especially Sagrada Família and Park Güell. Lastly, churros and chocolate just seal the deal. Tara Johannnisen Fashion activist & lifestyle influencer


If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the eyebrows are the curtains that frame these windows. I’ve always had unruly eyebrows. I remember trying to stick them down with La Pebra hair gel in my ballet days. It worked, but it was sticky and the smell was quite pungent. Over the years I’ve tried and tested various brow gel products but none of them have worked quite as well as MUD’s Brow Fix. In fact, I’m a little obsessed with it. The gel formula sweeps on with a brush applicator, which makes for maximum precision. I always throw it in my handbag for a quick touch up during the day. It never flakes, so I don’t have to worry about dreaded “eyebrowdandruff” and it helps me to achieve the perfect shape with my eyebrow pencil. It’s my go-to product for keeping my brows groomed and gorgeous. Lindy Hibbard Radio personality

Screen Time Our pick of the most download-worthy business apps currently on the market

Campaign Monitor

Acrobat Reader

Acrobat Reader is a multi-purpose app that manages PDF files on portable devices. It allows users to virtually perform all actions they may need; from opening documents to signing them. Other functions of the app include: reviewing PDF files, easily sharing them and signing important documents. The app’s design is similar to others in this class, making it easy for users to navigate. It also comes with optional in-app purchases, so if a user needs more editing functions and an opportunity to create PDF files in the app, they can buy them as part of a subscription.

Square Point of Sale

This is a free Android point of sale app that gives users everything they need to receive payments and run their businesses. The app accepts debit and credit cards with magnetic stripes, and also EMV chip and Android Pay for contactless transactions. Funds are deposited quickly and the app can be used to keep track of sales and inventory in real time, as well as manage items and employees. This is made possible by viewing analytics about the users’ businesses. Using the app ensures there are no long-term contracts, no commitments and no surprise fees.

Campaign Monitor helps users build big, beautiful and on-brand emails. The app makes it easier to create, send and measure the impact of your email-marketing campaigns. It offers easy-to-use tools to help drive real, bottom line and business results. Users are guided into using important data from any third-party apps, including Shopify and Salesforce, to customise every message every time. The app lets users control and ultimately decide when to send emails to make the greatest impact; whether it’s a one-time campaign or an on-going one.

ServiceDesk Plus

Trusted by the world’s best organisations such as Dell, Vodafone and Disney, ServiceDesk Plus provides great visibility and central control in dealing with IT issues to ensure that businesses suffer no downtime. The app comes in three flexible plans, each designed to meet different IT needs. The first one is the standard plan; IT Help Desk software, a perfect starter kit to get ticketing right. The second plan is a professional plan; Help Desk Plus asset management. The final plan is an enterprise plan; Help Desk ITIL, asset and project. This package is fitted with a ready-to-use ITSM suite with all the features an IT service desk needs.

Google My Business

Getting your business noticed with the Google My Business app has never been easier. Instead of waiting for customers to look for you, why not go to them? This app allows you to efficiently manage business information and stay ahead of the game. The app allows you to use Google’s search engine, Maps and Google+ to share information with potential customers and other audiences. With the easy to access dashboards and profile, you can stay updated at all times. The app notifies you instantly when customers interact with your business, making it easy to respond immediately. NOVEMBER 2017  FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A   9

Fast Company Promotion

Philip Morris bets big on a smoke-free future Philip Morris International (PMI), a leading tobacco company, is aiming for a better tomorrow with an innovative approach to smoke-free products in a move to stub out cigarettes in the future. Writer: Kisha Van Vuuren

After a decade of research, an investment exceeding $3 billion and hundreds of world-class scientists backing the research, PMI is making big strides towards a smoke-free future, starting with an innovative, science-driven new device called IQOS. In recent years tobacco companies have spent billions in researching of the industry’s Holy Grail – alternatives to cigarettes that cause less harm, but that are still comparable to the traditional in ways that are important to current adult smokers that would otherwise continue smoking. With PMI’s new IQOS innovation, a “smokeless” cigarette alternative, it believes it has found the answer. This device uses an electronic heat source to heat tobacco at precisely controlled temperatures below combustion levels. It produces an aerosol, not smoke, that has on average less than 10% the amount of harmful chemicals found in ordinary cigarette smoke. The IQOS is already on sale in over 30 markets around the world, and was launched in South Africa earlier this year. “The idea of ‘heat-not-burn’ has been around for quite some time, but until now the technology was never advanced enough for it to be a real success,” says Marcelo Nico, CEO of Philip Morris South Africa. “Globally PMI has spearheaded the concept, making a no burn, smoke-free future a reality.” “Designing a smoke-free future is an ambitious task, one we cannot achieve alone,” Nico explains. “All stakeholders in the tobacco industry have a role to play and we are encouraged by the growing number of experts, regulators and government bodies that are taking steps to support the role


“The IQOS is already on sale in over 30 markets around the world, and was launched in South Africa earlier this year.”

that science and innovation can have for public health.” Globally the company’s vision is for all current adult smokers, who would otherwise continue smoking, to switch to their scientifically substantiated smokefree products. PMI already produces over 32 billion HEETS (tobacco sticks), and hopes to reach 50 billion by 2018. “We are more confident than ever that these products have the potential to fundamentally transform our cigarette business to potentially less harmful alternatives,” Nico says. For instance, he adds, “Over 3.5 million smokers have already quit smoking cigarettes and switched to the new alternative, proving that designing a smoke-free future is a concrete possibility. In South Africa alone, exactly 70% of smokers that have tried IQOS have fully converted to the system and are enjoying the benefits of this technology.”

The tobacco technology battle is heating up, though, and some analysts believe that PMI is winning the race to produce heat-not-burn products. “We are very happy to be the key catalyst for a reduced risk product category and will continue to innovate to ensure our vision becomes a true reality,” he says. PMI is preparing for the day when they will stop selling traditional cigarettes, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. “It has been a dramatic decision, but we will become far more than a

leading cigarette company,” Nico explains. “Why are we doing it? The answer is simple; we understand that millions of men and women who smoke cigarettes are looking for less harmful, yet satisfying alternatives to smoking, and we want to give them that choice.” PMI has an inspiring approach to align itself to a more technologically innovative company, and just like any tech company, they are aware that the competition will come from unexpected sources. “The category is going to allow for a lot of creativity and innovation, we will embrace this by developing the market, transition of our resources and through ongoing engagement with regulatory stakeholders,” Nico says. The massive investment into research, product testing and change are proof that Big Tobacco is moving towards something greater. “More than ever, society expects us to act responsibly and we believe that one day the new technology will replace traditional cigarettes,” Nico says.

INTERESTING FACTS As hubs of innovation go, Switzerland trumps pretty much any region in the world. It is home to a number of Nobel Prize winners; it’s where pharmacist Henri Nestlé perfected the concoction of milk, flour and sugar that spawned the world’s largest food conglomerate; where the first

wristwatch was developed; where the World Wide Web was born; and where Velcro made its debut. With a history dating back to 1957, PMI’s head office in Lausanne, Switzerland is one of the company’s most important facilities, producing tobacco products for the

domestic and export markets; over 40 countries around the world. It is also home to their Innovation Cube where the IQOS Heat-Not-Burn system was invented. IQOS™ is not risk free. The best way to reduce tobacco related

health risks is to quit tobacco use altogether. For more information: More information on PMI’s scientific research can be found at


MTV Networks’ president Chris McCarthy is listening to his young audience, responding, and watching ratings rise.

MTV STRIKES A CHORD WITH GEN Z By Jonathan Ringen Photographs by Nathan Bajar

If you want to understand how MTV sees its audience in 2017, you could do worse

than YouTubing some highlights from August’s iteration of the network’s flagship broadcast, MTV Video Music Awards. Although the show nodded to the network’s most news-making moment of the past decade—Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift at the 2009 awards—by debuting Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do video (the latest reverberation in the stars’ feud), the rest of the live broadcast was drama-free. The categories, to begin with, eschewed gender—just as the MTV Movie & TV Awards had three months earlier—so that Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars competed on level ground with Lorde and Ariana Grande for Artist of the Year (Sheeran won). The Moonman statuette itself, an homage to the iconic flag-planting astronaut logo from the network’s early days, was rebranded as the Moon Person. Performances from Kendrick


Lamar, Logic, and Alessia Cara all had a distinctly empowering slant, addressing black identity, suicide prevention, and body image, respectively. Artists with seemingly divergent fan bases— such as Sheeran and the rapper Lil Uzi Vert—came together onstage. And Pink gave a moving speech about resisting gender conformity, recalling how she comforted her

Leading Edge

daughter, who had been teased for looking like a boy, with images of androgynous rock stars. The event didn’t adopt this inclusive, diversity-celebrating tone by accident, or even because it reflects a liberal worldview of the executives who run MTV. It came from the viewers themselves, both urban and rural, via deep research the network has been doing into their tastes, habits, and politics. Of particular interest, of course, are the youngest, most crucial cohort: the tweens and teens known as gen Z, whose eyeballs MTV has struggled in recent years to attract. These viewers, the network has come to understand, have a

fundamentally different worldview than their parents do, one that’s less organised along the lines of race and gender and sexuality. Straight kids in small-town Mississippi are interested in the lives of trans kids in Chicago, and vice versa. And in the playlist era, musical genres no longer matter. Findings like these are helping shape the vision of MTV Networks’ new president, 42-year-old Chris McCarthy who was brought over from VH1 last

Head of unscripted programming Nina Diaz, left, and GM Amy Doyle are working to make MTV both relevant and responsive.

October to salvage an old-media brand that had lost its way in an era of nimble You-Tubers and audience-sapping diversions like Snapchat. (In his new role, he oversees all MTV Networks properties, which also include VH1, Logo, and MTV2.) Between 2012 (when MTV’s last breakout hit, Jersey Shore, went off the air) and this past summer, the channel’s audience had decreased every year, with its share of viewers aged 18 to 24 dropping a stomach-churning 50%. In the interim, MTV had launched and shuttered a bookish, Grantland-inspired reboot of MTV News; strayed from music-centered programming; and only clumsily grappled with the rise of video on social platforms. “The biggest opportunity for us right now is to forget everything we knew and begin to understand a whole new audience, which is something that MTV has always had to do,” says McCarthy, who is a true believer in MTV’s groundbreaking history as the place where, for instance, Pedro Zamora helped destigmatise HIV-AIDS on the third season of The Real World, in 1994. “That’s the fun part—to look at it with a blank slate. Like, How do we actually reinvent for this audience?” McCarthy—who is affable and articulate and dressed in head-to-toe New York black, down to his Nike Dunks—sits in the corner office he occupies on the 25th floor of Viacom’s Times Square headquarters. He’s a Viacom lifer, arriving at the media giant soon after business school and rising to leadership positions at MTV2, Logo, and VH1. Aside from a shelf full of Emmys and a framed vintage subway map, the office is mostly devoid of decor—an indicator of how fast his team, which also includes GM Amy Doyle and head of unscripted programming Nina Diaz, has been moving. When he got the MTV job last fall, McCarthy immediately cleared out the production pipeline, cancelling over a hundred shows in various stages of development. He revamped a handful of others (including Teen Mom), quickly launched several youth-targeted new ones (like Promposal, which is exactly what it sounds like), and streamlined the development process. “Chris is not risk averse,” says Doyle, who worked with McCarthy at VH1 and, in a previous stint at Viacom, was MTV’s head of music. “If we see something we like, we will immediately greenlight it and get it into development and on air as fast as possible.” MTV has near-universal brand awareness among gen Z viewers, McCarthy says, which represents a huge opportunity—one that MTV has invested considerable resources into seizing. An ongoing study of 1,000 young people drills down into their tastes, values, and habits. On top of that, the network has sent researchers into the field all over the country, observing how these kids consume media in their private lives. Among the many lessons MTV has learned is that gen Z does watch linear TV, although they also watch tons of other stuff on their phones. In all, they spend a remarkable two-thirds of their waking hours consuming content. Their sense of humor, also, is different from that of previous generations: Jokes based on racial differences simply fail to connect—a trend that McCarthy began to observe with millennials when he was building out the dude-centric MTV2 a half decade ago. (Like most of TV, the main MTV channel’s demo skews somewhat female.) “Millennials were starting to grow up in a world where difference was the norm and race was not something that they could quite wrap their head around in terms of comedy,” he says. “It was fascinating. We started putting truly multicultural content on the screen. And the young guys actually flocked to the content.” Perhaps gen Z’s defining trait, McCarthy says, is its unprecedented digital connectedness—and paradoxical real-life isolation. “You look at self-reported anxiety, and it’s up 50% over the last three years, which is just sort of astounding to think about,” he says. A slew of new shows are built around that insight. A



Leading Edge

dating show, Undressed, which broke through with young viewers on its first night, aims to jump-start a feeling of interpersonal connectivity by having contestants answer revealing questions while lying together on a bed in their underwear. (One of the couples in the debut episode is gay, which no longer remotely registers as a thing for MTV viewers. In fact, according to MTV’s research, only half of gen Z defines itself as strictly heterosexual.) Siesta Key, a glossy reality show inspired by previous-era MTV hits like The Hills, is “an escapist, beautiful, soapy doc,” says McCarthy. “But over the course of several seasons, you’ll get to see them struggling with health issues, divorce issues, family issues, race-based issues, even huge mistakes that they make.” One of the show’s stars inspired a boycott in early August when racist social media comments and video that seemed to depict him shooting an endangered hammerhead shark from a fishing boat emerged. Because of MTV’s newly accelerated production schedule, Siesta Key was able to quickly address the controversy within the show itself. “The beauty of being able to make great content in real time is we’re able to follow that story and actually see the consequences of some of the decisions,” McCarthy says. McCarthy’s changes are working: Ratings at the network were up month over month in June, July, and August, with August prime-time ratings up 31% over the previous year. But overhauling MTV’s linear programming is just the first part of McCarthy’s plan. Now he is working to reinvent the brand for the current digital landscape, helping MTV better compete across platforms and making it less dependent on its main cable channel. On a late-August afternoon, his biggest experiment yet is taking shape on the building’s second floor, where a warren of offices overlooking Times Square is being turned back into a studio for a show that was last seen in 2008, and which McCarthy believes will become the spiritual center of the new MTV. The network is bringing back Total Request Live, the powerhouse pop-music-video countdown show starring Carson Daly that helped drive the music business’s turn-of-themillennium commercial peak by breaking acts from ’N Sync to Eminem. The new TRL—which will have daily live performances from Demi Lovato, Migos, Sheeran, and Katy Perry in its first few weeks alone this fall—hopes to have a similar impact, this time because it will be engineered to generate viral moments. The show will feature five young hosts, which it will need because content will be spread, in various ways, across platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Musical. ly, and YouTube. “The way we are thinking about TRL is not as a one-hour show,” McCarthy says, but, “ideally, 10 viral moments. Maybe five of those will start on linear. The other five will never see the “T he way we are light of day on linear—they will be on all thinking about TRL the other platforms.” There is risk in this approach—after all, is not as a onecable-TV eyeballs are worth vastly more to hour show,” the network in ad dollars than Facebook or McCarthy says, Snapchat views. But, as McCarthy notes, but, “ideally, even if the shift might be short-term 10 viral moments.” painful, it will better position MTV for the future. “We have the luxury of amazing margins, 35 years of amazing IP, and if we liberate ourselves into re-creating the content in different ways, it gives us the latitude to grow the other platforms while the model evolves,” McCarthy says. When the team quietly began approaching labels and artist managers last spring to gauge their potential interest in a revived TRL, the response, Doyle says, was overwhelmingly positive. “For all of us who were around in the heyday, it was a magical thing that had significant impact on what was happening in music,” says Greg Thompson, president of management giant Maverick, which reps dozens of top stars including Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, and U2. “Chris and Amy have always understood that keeping music part of the conversation was essential to the channel’s identity, and I think [previous execs] lost that message. Everyone needs to remember what the M stands for.”


L IQUID T E L E V ISION MTV’s new shows are custom tailored for gen Z viewers and their viewing habits, migrating easily between platforms.

MTV’s Siesta Key blends reality TV with social media.

1. Cribs

The network’s voyeuristic 2000–2009 reality show has found a new home on Snapchat. Three-minute-long episodes are shared via 20-second clips, revealing the closets and kitchens of stars like Steve Aoki and Von Miller. Premiered June 3 on Snapchat

2. Siesta Key

A new series from the producers of Laguna Beach offers aspirational escapism for the modern age: Seven main cast members, living in Florida’s posh Siesta Key, share photos and drop story-line hints on social media, combining reality TV with today’s influencer culture. Premiered July 31

3. 90’s House

Twelve millennials live together in a ’90s-themed house, completing weekly challenges while limited to the devices (and fashion) of that decade. Hosted by Christina Milian and Lance Bass, and with guest stars including Tatyana Ali and SaltN-Pepa, the show is a nod to gen-Zers’ fascination with the era. Premiered September 26

4. Total Request Live

MTV has rebooted its iconic daily live show with five diverse new hosts who each has a substantial social media following. In addition to featuring music videos and live performances, the new TRL will spread exclusive content and backstage footage across YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Premiered October 2

5. We Are They

This docuseries will follow real people with nonbinary gender identities, shedding light on their community and, MTV says, appealing to the more than 50% of gen-Zers who don’t identify as strictly heterosexual. Premieres 2018


Fast Company Promotion

What every entrepreneur needs to know about going digital South Africa’s industr y leaders are talking tech more than anything else in 2017. They understand the importance of bringing their businesses online, no matter what sector they operate in. This stood out at the third edition of the MTN Business Digital Entrepreneur Masterclass, which was recently held in Durban. This event showed entrepreneurs how they can grow their businesses by using smart, tailored solutions produced by MTN Business and its partners. Attendees walked away with the following tips – all great starting points for entrepreneurs looking to go digital.

AN ONLINE PRESENCE OFFERS INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITIES Remember the idea of six degrees of separation? Simply put, every person in the world is separated by only six people. Today, it’s become 3.2 degrees of separation, because of social media. Having an online presence, specifically on social media, means businesses can reach a much wider network of potential clients than in an offline environment. There are 3.5 million internet searches and 701 000 Facebook logins every 60 seconds. With those numbers in mind, any entrepreneur without an online presence is doing themselves a disservice. Having a digital home, such as a website, for your business is critical. This is the digital identity for your business, and the beginning of putting yourself out there to be found.

FORGET B2B AND B2C – EMBRACE H2H While technology has allowed us to automate almost anything, the removal of the human element is not necessarily what we want. People are beginning to crave human connection. Brands are expected to move away from Business-to-Business or even Business-toConsumer marketing. 2017 and beyond is about Human-to-Human marketing. It is human nature to crave a sense of belonging, and the forming of communities, such as fan clubs, business networks and even churches meet this need.



Today, communities are created online and across the world. It began with chatrooms and swiftly moved to the era of social media. Companies should actively engage in conversations with their consumers on social media, so that consumers feel their needs have been met and that they’ve had a real conversation with a person, not a brand.

COLLABORATE FOR CREDIBILITY The idea of collaboration is a hot topic, and an important business tactic. When potential clients are hesitant to work with small businesses, being associated with established brands increases the credibility of the business. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey, and collaboration also translates into support for entrepreneurs who aren’t connected to people who understand their business. If you join an incubator, your business would be exposed to those with more experience and those who have faced similar challenges. A digital world erases the problem of geography when it comes to collaboration. Teleconferencing plays an important role in bringing people together despite their location, and it doesn’t need to become a major expense. Due to the growing success and popularity of the MTN Business Digital Entrepreneur Masterclasses, a fourth edition was held in Johannesburg on 31 October. Hosted in partnership with Google, Huawei, Samsung, HP, SiMoDiSa, Blue Robot, National Gazelles, and CAT, MTN Business explored the theme, “The Digital Industrial Revolution”. The topics presented at this conference were conceptualised to assist entrepreneurs who have been in business for a few years and are looking for solutions to enable them to take their businesses to the next level. “We’re pleased by the overwhelmingly positive response the Digital Entrepreneur Masterclasses have received since their inception,” says Mandisa Ntloko, General Manager of Enterprise Marketing: MTN Business SA. “This initiative fits perfectly with our vision and mission of being a business-enabler. We believe that the sessions at these conferences help ‘future proof’ the enterprises of the attending entrepreneurs, and empower them with the skills needed to sustain and grow their businesses in the 21st century.”

“Having a digital home, such as a website, for your business is critical.”



THE REBEL WHO FOUND A CAUSE Trend specialist and innovation strategist, global speaker and Singularity University faculty member John Sanei has entrepreneurship embedded into his DNA. He seeks solutions and challenges the traditional ways of doing business. Here he speaks about his new book, his Forever Profitable methodology and positive business practices. Interview by: Saarah Survé


Creative Conversation

What motivated you to get into business in the first place? “Entrepreneurship is embedded deep into my DNA. I was always a bit of a rebel and when I was younger, I was a ‘rebel without a cause’, but over time the rebelliousness inside me found a cause as I began looking for more innovative ways of doing things - seeking solutions that weren’t available. Entrepreneurs are the people who bring about the best solutions, and in my case, that meant rebelliously chasing new and different ways of doing things and challenging the ‘system’. “Over the years I have become more focused on bringing solutions into the marketplace that are aligned with my highest excitement and curiosity - linking these two things makes entrepreneurship powerful. Just focusing on money and looking for gaps are not true motivations. My motivation has evolved and continues to evolve as I mature and better understand the ins and outs of doing business.” You have just returned from Singularity University in San Francisco. What did you learn there? “Singularity University (SU) was founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil about eight years ago. Both of these individuals are arguably the best Futurists on earth at the moment. “I learnt that the future is coming at a much faster pace than all of us are actually aware of, and the tsunami of technology is going to start taking hold in the next five to ten years. “Preparation, exposure and having the right mind-set are key. After listening to the brightest minds talk about the future, I’ve had a sense of urgency put into my step: we all need to wake up and start adopting a new perspective and approach to business, because the dynamics of how we are going to live and for how long, how we will use transport, how we will communicate and the concept of money are about to undergo a massive paradigm shift. “Lack of preparation is a bad excuse for not being ready. In order to be relevant and profitable, we need to start exposing ourselves. “My two biggest take-aways from SU are: (1) Expose yourself to the future, and (2) Create an Adaptability Quotient (AQ) approach within yourself and your organisation, and allow your AQ to lead the way.”

“I spent a lot of time and energy on re-wiring my thought patterns and consciously moving away from a victim mind-set.”

opportunities to create global businesses. Current trends indicate that there will be some degree of free energy, communication and even transportation within the next 10 years. “We have a dormant market that is about to boom with new innovations that lie at our disposal. We have the biggest opportunities in Africa (and South Africa) to create businesses that are going to awaken the African giant. “What we are lacking in South Africa is the mind-set to think globally and the exposure to future trends. It’s becoming clear that Africa has the same advantage as the rest of the world: we have access to billions of people that use the internet.” Who should read your book, What’s Your Moonshot? “A Moonshot is about dreaming

Citizen of the future Sanei delivers a keynote address to a Western Cape Government department.

What does what you learnt at SU mean for the future of business, including in South Africa? “There has never been a better time to be in Africa. Our access to information is growing exponentially, as are our



Creative Conversation

big and reaching - literally and figuratively - for the stars or the moon. The concept of having a ‘Moonshot’ is relevant for everybody - especially in today’s hyper-connected, hyper-informed, always-on world. “It’s based on John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1961, telling the world and the American public that he will put a man on the moon (despite the fact that the required technology had not been developed at the time). Eight years after JFK’s speech, the first astronauts landed on the moon and the American Moonshot became a success. “Today, the likes of Elon Musk are changing Moonshots into Mars-shots. “My book aims to show people that as individuals we have the capacity to dream big and achieve massive things. We have access to more people, more tech and more collaborative effort than ever before. “What’s Your Moonshot? presents various tools that you can use to dissect trends that will affect you in the future, and shows you how to develop a personal and business roadmap to becoming future-proof.” What is your ‘Moonshot’? “My Moonshot is to do what I am doing right now, but on a global stage. I intend to share a stage with speakers and thought leaders such as Peter Diamandis, Ray Kurzweil, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek. “My Moonshot is also to write more books (and hopefully attain the coveted The New York Times bestseller status) and bring about maximum impact while reaching a larger audience. “My immediate Moonshot is to be based in New York, Dubai and Cape Town in order to truly work on a global scale.” You speak about positive businesses and a new type of “positive billionaire”. Why is this important? “This concept of becoming a new type of billionaire was first introduced by Peter Diamandis. It deals with the idea of conscious capitalism and the premise that the new billionaire should be someone who positively impacts a billion people’s lives. “If the core of your vision is to have a positive impact, you will have the opportunity to make sure that everyone benefits - from your suppliers and employees to your consumers and the environment. “It is possible to be wealthy and make a positive impact. I am making it my mission to get people thinking about becoming the new type of billionaire - to realise that it is possible and will become the future norm. At the same time, I strive to become a new billionaire within my businesses.” What is your ‘Forever Profitable’ methodology? “I have developed the Forever Profitable methodology over the past 10 years in order to help organisations be: forever profitable. The methodology dissects, contextualises and categorises trends, allowing businesses to make informed decisions based on a holistic approach and have a clearer understanding of the future. “I have applied the Forever Profitable methodology in sectors as diverse as


mining, banking, technology, skin care, building, textile, farming and telecoms, to name a few. It’s designed to give decision makers the courage to ask new questions about the future and to divert the tunnelvision towards capability and competitive advantage to becoming human-focused and having a high Adaptability Quotient.” In your book you say that you were a multimillionaire by the age of twentyeight and lost it all by thirty. How did you lose it all? “I got stuck in something called the ‘innovator’s dilemma’ or, as I refer to it in my book, ‘an ironic rut of success’. What happens in most businesses is that we create a certain level of success and then become very protective of this success - to the point that we dig our own graves without realising it. “In my 20s, I successfully built multiple businesses - from operating distributions channels and retail stores to running restaurants and vending machines. Because I did so well, I also became scared of adopting new ways and adapting to changing consumer needs. I resorted to pushing sales harder and cutting costs at every turn, hoping that slowly but surely the market would react differently to my products and services. “Stubbornly, I kept going until I eventually ran out of money. By that point I also owed a lot of money and had to declare bankruptcy. “My case is not too dissimilar to what happened to Nokia. They released a smartphone two years before Apple did, but got stuck in the innovator’s dilemma by focusing on their billion-dollar business - the old models of their phones - and not focusing on the million-dollar business - the smartphone. “Looking back and trying to suspend the successes of the past has been the downfall of countless great brands

30-SECOND BIO and organisations. “Having been through it myself and becoming frustrated by the widespread repetition of this conundrum, I now teach companies how to circumvent the ironic rut of success. It’s a lot trickier than it sounds because when you are in that position, all you want to do is protect your ‘business baby’ and hold on to old success instead of pursuing new success. My Forever Profitable methodology is my way of teaching companies how to continuously evolve and look ahead.” How did you pick yourself up and get back into business? “It didn’t happen immediately. My ego kicked in and I felt sorry for myself; I went into ‘victim mode’ for many years. It was easier to blame everyone and everything else without taking responsibility for my situation and how I got there. “I spent a lot of time and energy on re-wiring my thought patterns and consciously moving away from a victim mind-set. This is actually a big part of what I write about in my book. Identifying that you have ‘victim traits’ is one of the first steps to changing your inner dialogue and shifting your mind-set.” What have been some of your other challenges so far? “Personal relationships have been one of my biggest challenges. Getting divorced was one of my biggest teachers. I often say that I have been both financially and emotionally bankrupt. By healing both of these bankruptcies I have been able to access my full power and potential.” What would you consider as your most notable accomplishment so far? “The fact that I have been accepted as a faculty member at SU. I will be teaching alongside the world’s brightest minds at the SU summits and at the university itself. This happened recently (in September) and I am privileged and proud to be part of such a well-respected and established faculty.” Your book is dedicated to your parents. In what ways have they influenced you and your journey so far? “I dedicated it to my parents because I believe that parents (and parental figures) have the most impact on our lives. By raising their children, parents possess the power to - intentionally or unintentionally - make us feel abandoned or overwhelmed. If you’re lucky, you can have both and learn from both of these emotions. “When my parents got divorced, I was very young and became overwhelmed by having to grow up so suddenly. I felt abandoned by my father at a young age. These two feelings have had a great impact on shaping who I became as a man. Recognising and working through the effect my parents had on my life (and realising that they had no malicious intentions) has allowed me to heal and move past the blockages that I thought were a part of me. “Indirectly, my parents have allowed me to go through the journey I am on now and have enabled me to find the path to my full potential.” Should we expect another book from you in the future? Is there a specific topic that you would like to write about? “Yes! I have started writing my new book, Magnetise. It’s based on the issue that I keep seeing around the world and in the organisations that I work with: everybody is looking for their purpose. “Companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to uncover their purpose - an exercise that is often futile. “I figured out my purpose by healing my issues and lifelong


“The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Şafak taught me that there are many different ways to love and that love is not always this serious, romanticised concept that we are often taught from a young age.” FAVOURITE CITY

“I have two: Cape Town and New York. One nurtures and heals you, the other expands you.” FAVOURITE QUOTE

“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favour.” - Rumi FAVOURITE TECHNOLOGY GADGET

“My iPhone is by far my favourite tech gadget; it is my external brain.” MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT

“Getting a standing ovation after one of my keynote presentations.” BIGGEST INSPIRATION

“I have many inspirations. One of them is my friend Steve Uria, who lives in New York and owns SWITCH Playground fitness studios. I have watched him rise out of the ashes and make his success. Watching my friends evolve into global thinkers and international action-orientated people truly inspires me.” FUTURE GOALS

“To live in both New York and Cape Town, to work on a global scale, and to share a stage with the world’s top thought leaders.” UNWINDING AND RELAX TIME MEANS

“Spending time in a forest with my dog.”

challenges that have been lurking in the shadows. The issues with my parents, my divorce and my bankruptcy brought to light subconscious issues that I was carrying around and wearing on my sleeve without even noticing it. “Having healed these aspects I have been able to move from a place of unconscious blaming to conscious blaming. I feel like I have acquired a new superpower by being able to understand my purpose really well. “In a business context, this means that individuals who understand their purpose can lead and operate purpose-led organisations. Companies that are led by people who have not found their purpose will always be trying to find it or pretend to have it. In other words, businesses that are led by people who have found their purpose begin to ‘magnetise’ and attract the best employees and superfans (consumers) to their brand. “On the other hand, businesses that prioritise profitability over purpose are never able to get into a space of conscious capitalism and rarely have a ‘magnetic’ effect on people. “The point of my new book is to give people the tools to understand that healing these deep shadows we all carry within us is the beginning of creating organisations that can be purpose-led, sustainable and forever profitable.” Your website is unique and interactive (a message from “Louise, John’s left brain,” pops up when the page loads). Why have you taken this approach? “To me, websites are a point of interaction and an opportunity to present the flavour of your brand. I wanted my site to be as concise as possible and to present a clear understanding of what I am all about. “I call Louise my left brain because I don’t like the term ‘Personal Assistant’. Louise takes care of all of the logistics and left-brain functions, so I thought it would be fun to call her that and give people an immediate opportunity to interact.”



No mat ter what you call it— machine learning, deep learning, or cognitive computing—AI is the biggest oppor tunit y in business since mobile, for tech giants and upstar ts alike. It ’s also the most confusing. We’re here to help. By Harry McCracken Il l u s t r a t i o n s by Daniel Zender





OF 2018

AI research is flowering because computing power has caught up with the ambitions of machine-learning specialists.


Inspired by news that Vladimir Putin had told Russian students the country that leads in artificial intelligence will rule the world, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO declared the global race to dominate AI might turn into real war—and that the first strike could well be launched by an algorithm rather than a fleshand-blood leader. Chastised by one of his followers for the gloomy prognostication, he apologised and then confessed, “I was depressing myself too. :-( ”. Musk is a techno-provocateur with few equals. However, plenty of people share his take on AI. Even sunnier forecasts about the future of AI, detailing how self-driving cars might radically reduce highway carnage, are typically too long-range to offer much of a sense of comfort. Meanwhile, as everyone muses about where AI might take us, the technology has arrived. First given its name by scientists at a seminal conference held at Dartmouth College in 1956 (they had predicted that programmers would be able to simulate the workings of the human brain in just a few years), AI now has a pervasive and obvious impact, particularly when it comes to the



THE BIGGEST OPPORTUNITY IN BUSINESS How artificial intelligence is poised to transform every aspect of the global economy A N T I C I PAT E D I M PA CT



Speech Recognition

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2017 error rate of Microsof t ’s speech-recognition soft ware, which best s a human transcriber, the first time a computer has done so. Accents and noisy environment s, however, can still bef uddle the sof t ware.




Productivity gains

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Total invested in star t ups using A I in some form. The number of investment s has grown from 150 in 2012 to almost 700 in 2016.

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Projected value added to the music industr y in 2018 by Music X Ray, a star t up using A I and crowdsourcing to pick f ut ure stars and match them to commercial oppor t unities


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OF 2018

WH Y A L P H A B ET / G O O G LE W I LL W I N E S T I M AT E D 2 0 1 7 R E V E N U E $109 billion

MARKET CAP* $650 billion

E A R LY I N T E R E S T I N A I The company acknowledged in 1999 that it was using AI to improve its flagship Search product’s results.

PHILOSOPHY Make machines intelligent, improve people’s lives.

REVEALING QUOTE “Technology is now on the cusp of taking us into a magical age,” Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt wrote in January, “in which machine learning can prevent blindness, translate any language with expert skill, or even save endangered species from extinction.”

The success of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant has reverberated throughout the business world, making AIpowered chat the next big thing.

DeepMind ($500 million, 2014). The company is best known for its software defeating the world’s best Go player, but its focus is advancing what’s possible in AI and applying it to Google products from health to shopping.

N O TA B L E A C H I E V E M E N T Alphabet-owned YouTube turned to Google Brain (another of the company’s R&D arms) to tune its video recommendations and has increased average watch time by 50% each of the past three years.

WHY IT IS AHEAD No company has more data or more machine-learning resources, which are being put to work in services that billions use every day. *As of September 2017


branch known as machine learning and, in especially advanced form, as deep learning. AI is how Google Photos knows that two snapshots taken 50 years apart are both of your great-uncle. It’s how Facebook weeds spam out of your feed. It’s even how the iPhone ekes as much life as possible out of a battery charge. Increasingly, smartphones, smart-home gizmos, and other devices are morphing into front ends for AI-infused services, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant. “If you unpack what’s behind Alexa, behind the Echo, it’s not just a speaker,” says Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of Amazon AI. “It’s actually an intelligent, cloud-enabled digital assistant, using deep-learning-driven speech recognition and natural language understanding.” As AI begins to touch every aspect of their businesses, the tech giants are jousting to recruit superstars in the field, pilfering brainpower from academia (New York University’s Yann LeCun is now at Facebook) and each other (Jia Li left Snapchat to co-run Google Cloud’s machinelearning group). “Because the technology is so powerful, there’s a large demand for talent that understands how to apply it,” says Scott Penberthy, director of applied AI for Google Cloud. Research firm Paysa released a study in April that showed Amazon investing $228 million in new AI positions, followed by Google ($130 million) and Microsoft ($75 million). Only a handful of companies can compete at this level. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft “have all these PhDs, and they have all this PhD tech,” says Ali Ghodsi, the CEO of Databricks, a startup that works with businesses to add AI to their processes. “But the rest of the Fortune 2000, they don’t,” leading to what Ghodsi states is an emerging “1% problem,” in which only the largest players have the wherewithal to take full advantage of this new technology. The saving grace is that businesses of all sizes can avail themselves of some of these AI



innovations. In fact, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are counting on it. Their cloud-computing platforms—Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google Cloud, respectively—include enterprise AI offerings such as image recognition, natural language processing, and language translation. All three companies see AI as the key to driving future growth of their cloud platforms; at present, Amazon Web Services is a $16 billion business that’s increasing 42% year over year, though that pace has slowed as Microsoft and Google begin to catch up. Then there’s IBM, which calls its flavor of artificial intelligence “cognitive computing” and has effectively branded it as “Watson” to sell as a service. While Facebook and Apple don’t offer their own platforms, they publish academic papers on their research—and, in Facebook’s case, it open-sources some of the technologies it’s created. As a business tool, AI is still in its infancy. Recent studies by both the McKinsey Global Institute and MIT/Boston Consulting Group reported that only about 20% of companies have implemented the technology in a meaningful way. But unlike past technological inflection points—such as the emergence of e-commerce in the 1990s—AI doesn’t naturally favour nimble startups. Because AI craves data of the sort that can take years to accumulate, “there’s actually an advantage to incumbency, because the more knowledge you have to train your AI, the more valuable it is,” argues David Kenny, IBM’s senior VP for Watson and IBM Cloud. What AI does share with past tech trends, however, is a tendency to be overhyped in such a way that can obscure its real capabilities. In September, for example, an investigation by medical news site Stat determined that IBM’s Watson for Oncology service, for medical institutions, failed to live up to a promotional campaign that suggested it was a cancer-fighting breakthrough. “We’re probably at the peak of hype and expectations: ‘AI is going to do everything for us, it’s going to take over the world, if you don’t touch AI you’re going to be left behind,’ ” says data scientist Steven Finlay, the author of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Business. Still, AI is no mere fad. The dollars flowing into R&D are huge—at the rate of more than $30 billion a year—and the ultimate impact on productivity and enhanced consumer demand are projected to be in the trillions. It’s no surprise that AI has become the focal point in the war among tech’s biggest players, and that it is affecting how many enterprises, in tech and beyond, view their futures. To understand where AI is today—and where it is heading—businesses must acknowledge both the excitement and the uncertainty. Here are seven practical lessons from the front lines, in industries from tech to retail, craft brewing to real estate. AI is officially everywhere, in ways we all need to appreciate.



P I C K Y O U R B AT T L E S The leader of a major fashion business recently decided that AI needed to be a tool in his company’s arsenal. But he wasn’t sure what that meant. The enterprise had worked with Google, IBM, and Microsoft in the past. Should it align with one of them on AI? And to do what, exactly? Even those in the AI field warn against becoming smitten with the technology just because it’s trendy. “Sometimes I talk to customers who are like, ‘Hey, we want to use AI,’ without really thinking about why, or what it can do for them,” says Marco Casalaina, VP of product for Salesforce’s AI, which is branded as Einstein. A good way to start is by identifying business problems that AI might help with—and, instead of trying to tackle all of them at once, choosing a manageable pilot project. “If you think you’re going to solve this in one go, it’s never going to happen,” says Deep Varma, VP of engineering at real estate information provider Trulia, who advises AI newbies to “pick very specific pain points.” The key is to not be seduced by AI’s potential but rather to focus on your own goals. Processes that human beings (read: employees) regard as drudgery are often the best place to begin. For instance, by using natural language processing services from Microsoft’s Azure, travel technology company Sabre is experimenting with a Facebook Messenger bot that can field straightforward questions about existing reservations. Its customers in the travel industry, says director of Sabre Studios Chad Callaghan, “see a future where agents are focused on highly complex itineraries where you really want that person-to-person interaction, and the bot is able to support more routine sorts of requests.”

WHY AMAZON W I LL W I N E S T I M AT E D 2 0 1 7 R E V E N U E $173.8 billion

MARKET CAP* $470 billion

E A R LY I N T E R E S T I N A I Amazon’s recommendation system, introduced in 1998, suggested additional items for purchase based on the observed actions of similar users.

PHILOSOPHY Any business task or consumer experience that can be automated should be automated.

REVEALING QUOTE “Much of what we do with machine learning happens beneath the surface . . . quietly but meaningfully improving core operations,” CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in his 2017 shareholder letter.

KEY ACQUISITION Yap (2011), a cloud-based startup that’s expert at converting speech to text, which reportedly helped lead to Alexa

N O TA B L E A C H I E V E M E N T Last April, Amazon released the technology powering Alexa as a stand-alone service so that any company can develop its own intelligent voice applications.

WHY IT IS AHEAD Amazon has been the first to showcase the exciting potential of AI in everyday life, from autonomous drone delivery to frictionless retail checkout. And Alexa has been a game changer. *As of September 2017




OF 2018

WH Y APPLE W I LL W I N E S T I M AT E D 2 0 1 7 R E V E N U E $227.7 billion

MARKET CAP* $850 billion

E A R LY I N T E R E S T I N A I In 1984, Apple hired legendary Xerox PARC computer scientist Alan Kay to research potential projects in the field.

PHILOSOPHY Tech should serve humanity, not the other way around.

REVEALING QUOTE “Siri isn’t just a voice assistant,” said Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering, during Apple’s June developer event. “With Siri intelligence, it understands context. It understands your interests. It understands how you use your device. It understands what you want next.”

KEY ACQUISITION Emotient, a facial-recognition software startup, for around $100 million, in 2016

N O TA B L E A C H I E V E M E N T The new chip in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the A11 Bionic, incorporates machine-learning technology that allows developers to build AI functions into their apps and have them processed on the device.

WHY IT IS AHEAD Although often perceived to be behind, Apple has several hundred million Siri users. As AI advances, the company’s vociferous defense of user privacy only resonates more with customers. *As of September 2017



MAround A K E theY Oturn U RofBtheI GlastD ATA MEANINGFUL decade, a bit of technological jargon gained currency: “big

data.” Its buzziness reflected a new understanding that there was value in collecting, organising, and analysing vast amounts of information about every aspect of a business, from manufacturing procedures to customer interactions. Yet it was far easier to hoard big data than to figure out what to do with it. Many companies “kept collecting data for years and years and years, and it sat on servers and collected dust,” says Mark Johnson, CEO of geographic AI startup Descartes Labs. Enter artificial intelligence, which can identify patterns on a scale that would flummox a mere mortal. “Data is the food that feeds AI,” says Salesforce’s Casalaina. The more it consumes, the smarter it gets. At Google’s I/O developer conference in May, Google AI chief John Giannandrea explained the concept to me by using an example involving his 4-year-old daughter. She had spotted a giant-wheeled, 19th-century “penny-farthing” bicycle and—once he’d told her what it was—she was immediately capable of identifying any other penny-farthing she might encounter. With computers, “we’d have to show them 100 000 penny-farthings and tell them it’s a bike. But once they’d seen 100 000, they’d probably be better at identifying them than humans are.” Even companies with plenty of data to mine often need to clean up messy databases (Trulia’s Varma winces as he recalls a company that had stored a default time stamp of 00:00:00 on Thursday, January 1, 1970, for every record), merge disparate repositories, and generally make information algorithm-friendly. “The first thing to do is to take the data out of the databases, make it freely available and accessible,” recommends Jean-François Faudi, senior innovation manager at Airbus Defence and Space. For Airbus, that involved moving its satellite imagery to Google Cloud. Now the company can use machine learning to distinguish between snow and clouds—a feat that, it turns out, computers are more adept at accomplishing than humans.


PUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE TO WORK Companies that already care about data have a head start when it comes to AI, no matter what their category. Craft brewing, for instance, would not make anybody’s list of the industries most obviously poised to benefit from the technology. But Brian Faivre, the brewmaster at Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery—the eighth-largest craft brewery in the US—happens to have a computer science degree. (“I home brewed throughout college but didn’t know that you could have a real job in the craft-beer industry,” he explains.) Faivre has long been intrigued by how data science could be applied to beer making, and the brewery has been logging stats about its production process for years. Making suds is all about controlling fermentation, which breweries do by adjusting temperature. They know when it’s time to do so by extracting liquid samples from tanks and measuring their density—a cumbersome, inexact procedure. But working with a data infrastructure firm called OSIsoft, Deschutes fed data about past production into Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite, part of the Azure platform. That has allowed Deschutes to begin predicting the optimum time to raise the temperature, eliminating the need for the density-measuring step and shaving a couple of days off the 12-day fermentation cycle. The result: The company can produce more beer without compromising quality. Ultimately, craft brewing is not about ruthlessly efficient mass production, and Deschutes is a long way from using AI to eliminate the human element of its business: Beer makers are free to tinker with the algorithmically generated recommendations, and they do. “What we’ve always stressed is that our brewers are in control,” says Faivre. But the company’s use of AI to increase production is critical to its future: The additional sales are helping to fund the construction of a new brewery in Roanoke, Virginia, which will give Deschutes a national footprint for the first time.





PIGGYBACK IF YOU CAN The fact that tech giants are turning their own in-house AI into on-demand services is a boon for organisations that are tight on resources. Chris Adzima, for example, a senior information-systems analyst for the sheriff’s office in Washington County, Oregon, became intrigued last year by a new Amazon Web Services offering called Rekognition, which includes the ability to recognise faces. The county’s trove of hundreds of thousands of booking photos taken at the time of arrests has become so overwhelming that even filtering a search by age, gender, or race often doesn’t meaningfully narrow things down. That limits its usefulness when police officers need to identify a person of interest, such as a shoplifter caught on camera. “I am not a data scientist, nor do I have any idea how facial recognition or artificial intelligence works,” Adzima cheerfully admits. Within a couple of months, however, he was able to fashion a system that uses Rekognition to match newly taken photos with ones from the archive. So far, it’s helped identify 20 suspects. It was also an extraordinary bargain. The initial setup cost the sheriff’s office only around $400; the monthly bill from Amazon Web Services is about $6. “With every dollar I spend, I’m accountable to the taxpayers,” says Adzima. “We’re spending such small amounts of money and we’re getting a huge return on investment.”

E S T I M AT E D 2 0 1 7 R E V E N U E $39.2 billion

MARKET CAP* $500 billion

E A R LY I N T E R E S T I N A I Facebook introduced Photo Tag Suggest in 2010, which employs facial recognition to identify the people in users’ uploaded images.

PHILOSOPHY The better it can replicate—and exceed—human senses such as vision and hearing, the better it can understand and serve users.

REVEALING QUOTE “Now you can put a creative message out there, and AI can help you figure out who will be most interested,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his July earnings call. “A lot of the time you don’t even need to target now because AI can do it more precisely and better than we can manually.”

KEY ACQUISITION Natural language processing startup Ozlo, earlier this year. Its tech is expected to bolster Facebook Messenger and its chatbots.



The company announced in August that it had switched to using AI to handle all of its translation services, and it’s now processing 4.5 billion requests daily. Computers can now identify objects in images better than humans can, which has meaningful implications for facial recognition.

WHY IT IS AHEAD While the company’s tangible applications tend to be less fantastical than those of its rivals, when applied across more than 2 billion users, they’re as transformative as any. *As of September 2017




OF 2018

WHY IBM W I LL W I N E S T I M AT E D 2 0 1 7 R E V E N U E $77.8 billion

MARKET CAP* $135 billion

E A R LY I N T E R E S T I N A I Pioneering IBM engineer Arthur Samuel coined the phrase machine learning and in 1959 developed a first-of-its-kind program that could play checkers and learn from its experience.

PHILOSOPHY Help businesspeople be better at their jobs, whether they’re doctors or tax preparers.

REVEALING QUOTE “We are the ones that woke up the AI world here again,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty told the CNBC personality Jim Cramer in June.

KEY ACQUISITION The Weather Company (around $2 billion, 2016) gave IBM access to approximately 2.2 billion forecast points worldwide, all transmitting data that Watson churns through to fuel multiple client services.

N O TA B L E A C H I E V E M E N T In September, IBM and MIT announced a 10-year partnership in an AI lab; one research goal is developing algorithms to solve complex business problems, a complement to Watson’s industry-focused approach.

WHY IT IS AHEAD IBM may not have the revenue momentum of its tech peers, but it has established Watson as the strongest brand in AI. *As of September 2017



BUILD IF YOU MUST Facial recognition is a type of AI that’s applicable in various scenarios, making Amazon’s version immediately useful in many fields. In some instances, however, companies need to employ AI that’s been carefully tweaked for a particular purpose. “We don’t tend to ask our radiologist for art advice, or our lawyer for stock-picking advice. You go to experts for different things,” says IBM’s Kenny. That’s why IBM tailors Watson for specific industries, from education to supply-chain management. His point reflects a basic truth about AI: The more ambitious you get, the less likely a plain-vanilla algorithm will suffice. Real estate hub Trulia hoped to use AI to rummage through its collection of millions of photos of homes for sale and rent and distinguish among kitchens, bedrooms, and bathrooms—and even notice when a kitchen features such price-boosting extras as granite countertops. That’s not the sort of intelligence that’s available as a commodity. “Trulia needs to innovate,” says Varma, the company’s data-science guru. To do so, he concluded, “we need to own the computer vision internally.” As a division of Zillow, the leading digital broker valued at $5.5 billion, the company could reasonably aspire to treat AI as a strategic imperative and invest appropriately. Even though it’s an Amazon Web Services customer, Trulia chose to hire its own machine-learning experts and develop its own proprietary models. Sometimes the individualisation can be minimal. The car-buying site Edmunds, which offers prospective buyers resources such as specs, prices, and reviews, has integrated AI into numerous aspects of its business, from forecasting revenue to securing its website. Much like Trulia, it wanted to use the technology to help it sort through hundreds of thousands of photos, in this instance, to identify the types of exterior and interior shots it has of specific makes and models. “We got 90% there using Google off the shelf, and then we were able to just tweak it at the end to be better about understanding vehicle images versus all the images that Google is looking at everywhere else,” says VP of product innovation Greg Shaffer.


G E T E V E R Y B O D Y I N V O LV E D — A N D K E E P T H E M I N V O LV E D Whether a company seeks lots of help or takes on more of the heavy lifting itself, AI’s worth is deeply tied to the specifics of individual business challenges. Which means that it can only be effective if stakeholders are as engaged and committed as IT staffers are. “Organisations have the tendency to sit back, just like [after] they purchased technology in the past, and expect tech solutions to do all the hard work for them,” says Sjoerd Gehring, global VP of talent acquisition at Johnson & Johnson. “That’s the one thing that really doesn’t work with AI.” Though Gehring’s job focuses on people rather than technology, he championed J&J’s effort, in collaboration with Google Cloud and recruiting software provider Jibe, to incorporate AI into the way it finds everyone from medical researchers to truck drivers. The company says that appropriate applicants are up by 41% since it began using a search engine powered by Google’s machine-learning algorithms to match a million job candidates a year with the 25 000 positions it fills. After that, “it’s a continuous process of refinement and training to get your implementation better and better and better,” says Meg Sutton, director of retail client experience at H&R Block. The tax behemoth began integrating advice from IBM’s Watson into its routine this year and found that this input—based on 74 000 pages of US tax code and delivered on a second screen used by its preparers—increased client satisfaction. Now the company is working on version 2.0 for next year’s tax season.



WHY MICROSOFT W I LL W I N E S T I M AT E D 2 0 1 7 R E V E N U E $96.2 billion

MARKET CAP* $569.5 billion

E A R LY I N T E R E S T I N A I In 1993, the company hired Car­ negie Mellon computer scientist Xuedong Huang to lead its speechrecognition efforts; in 2016, Huang and his team’s algorithms exceeded humans’ transcription capabilities.

PHILOSOPHY Machines will work with humans, not against them.

REVEALING QUOTE Computer vision and speech recognition are the two AI disciplines most likely to have wideranging impact for business applications and customer experience.

“AI is at the intersection of our ambitions,” CEO Satya Nadella told an audience of Microsoft partners in September 2016, suggesting that it will let the company “reason over large amounts of data and convert that into intelligence.”

KEY ACQUISITION LinkedIn ($26.2 billion, 2016). The business network gives Microsoft a deep well of company and employee data to make it smarter.



DTheO Nfinal ’ T lesson E X P Ecomes C T Tback O O toMaUsimple, C H , Thuman O O S one: O O Npatience. There is much to be

gained from utilising AI, but there’s also much yet to discover. The technology’s ultimate cultural impact—despite all the prognostication, from Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg—is impossible to know. Eventually, as with previous epoch-shifting technologies, “there are people who will ride the wave and be successful, and other people who will go against the wave and then be swept away,” says Yunkai Zhou, who spent years building machine-learning technologies into Google’s ad platform before cofounding startup Thanks to the bold new experiments of companies both big and small, we are all learning where the current might lead. h m c c r a c k e n @ f a s t c o m p a n y. c o m

N O TA B L E A C H I E V E M E N T Microsoft debuted a real-time AI system for its enterprise cloud customers in August, which could help it win business from companies that want to deploy initiatives such as dynamic pricing and retail personalisation.

WHY IT IS AHEAD Microsoft is the tech giant most focused on converting AI directly into revenue, helping companies in a wide range of industries be more productive and effective. *As of September 2017


Fast Company Promotion

Preserving productivity the balancing act of an entrepreneur Staying productive is integral to any business. As an entrepreneur, productivit y becomes the order of your day. Intuitively, my productivity as an entrepreneur ought to be measured differently to that of a manager or an employee. I can be productive on holiday by identifying a great opportunity, and very unproductive in a board meeting. From experience, we understand the productivity measures of an employee, it can be measured in hours booked, output produced, documents created, hours in traffic, etc. For a manager, we start to measure things like production throughput, departmental or company budget efficiency, reaching sales and revenue targets, project progress, etc. As we climb our way up to the top (CEO), we start to be measured on issues directly tied to the overall performance of the company, things like company profitability, culture, strategy, market penetration, governance, etc. But as I write this, I am specifically asking myself what exactly entrepreneurial productivity is, and how it differs from that of your employees and managers. The outcome of productive entrepreneurial work should be identifying an opportunity, and creating a successful company that creates value for shareholders by creating value for customers.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ELEMENTS OF ENTREPRENEURIAL PRODUCTIVITY? I offer the following as my personal list of entrepreneurial productivity elements: Identify opportunities. I sometimes think that we get fixated on innovation so much that we forget that it is all about identifying viable opportunities, and creating successful companies around them. Innovators focus on innovation, while entrepreneurs focus on building a business. This may or may not involve innovation, but ultimately it is about identifying commercial opportunities. A good entrepreneur must be able to identify opportunities, essentially when others only see problems. Personally, I believe chaos is an entrepreneur’s best friend, it represents the ultimate opportunity. When someone creates the first path leading out of chaos, it becomes the path others follow. A good entrepreneur will toll that


“A good entrepreneur must be able to identify opportunities, essentially when others only see problems.”

path, which often requires thinking out of the box and being different. And let us be honest, chaos is not comfortable. Create a working business model. A good opportunity is only that - an opportunity, unless it can be embedded in a good business model that creates sustainable revenue with good margins well into the future. I recently read about the term “wannabetrepreneur” - people that see opportunities or have great ideas, but never act on it. I believe that part of the problem is that they are unable to craft a business model around that opportunity. But developing a business model is only the beginning,

actually testing and de-risking the business model in the real world is the real entrepreneurial task. This requires an experimental mind-set and the ability to cope with failure, recovery, adjusting and trying again, all the while trying to survive. The future is uncertain, and so is your initial business model. Don’t see the initial business model as gospel – the ultimate goal is to unlock the opportunity and make money off it. Execute - grow and scale a new business. Entrepreneurs need to work “on” their business to establish a great culture, relevant and scalable systems, processes and procedures in order for it to become increasingly independent of you and/or key players. Your business should be such that you have the ability to go on holiday for a month without everything falling apart. In many cases, this is the magic part - starting with nothing and finishing with a fully functioning business that is making healthy profits. Unfortunately, such a business requires you as an entrepreneur to create some form of bureaucracy – usually the thing

you want to run away from. De-risk the business. This is actually part of developing the business model and scaling, but I mention it separately as it often gets overlooked. Although entrepreneurs live in the world of risk (all people and businesses actually do), their main task is to de-risk the business model on a continuous basis. I personally always have a plan A, B, C and D when pursuing an opportunity. Most of the times only plan C or D works, where Plan D falls in the category of hoping and praying. Entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for trends (political, economic, social and technical) that may affect their businesses, and take precautionary actions. For the more attentive readers with us - these trends may also provide new opportunities! Designing for economies of scale. Economies of scale is about growing your business in such a way that you become more efficient in creating value as you grow, thus extracting more profit. Too many businesses grow linearly, i.e. for every unit of growth, the costs also increase one unit. What is the point of growth then? Ideally you want a business that can grow revenue exponentially while the costs to service this growth only expands linearly. This requires constant scrutiny of your business and identifying opportunities to get efficiencies. As a professional entrepreneur, your work is to get better at the above. Entrepreneurship is a practice, which means you only learn by actually doing it, by making the mistakes and trying again. This ultimately bestows on you an increasing track record of success – something bankable and worth pursuing. At Resolution Circle we support potential entrepreneurs and often try to assess how productive they will be (or have been) as entrepreneurs. Our job is to create bankable entrepreneurs that are extremely productive in their practice of entrepreneurship. We also believe experienced entrepreneurs are a country’s most valuable resource, the key to unlock a better future.

CEO and founder of Resolution Circle Professor Willem Clarke possesses a Doctor of Engineering qualification in electrical and electronics from the University of Johannesburg.



CAN NETFLIX SLAY THE MOUSE? Disney vs. Netflix The Streaming Wars By Nicole LaPorte Illustration by Corey Brickley


Face Off

In August, Disney sent a missile into the media stratosphere when it abruptly

announced that it was creating a pair of digital streaming services: one built around ESPN sports programming that will launch in 2018, and one devoted to Disney entertainment, to debut in 2019. This alone wasn’t shocking—Disney has long discussed creating its own streaming apps. But then CEO Bob Iger dropped another crucial detail: Disney will end its lucrative licensing deal with Netflix in 2019 and transfer Disney Animation and Pixar films, as well as TV shows from the Disney library, to its own service. Suddenly, the target became clear. Disney was going to war with Netflix. Five days later, Netflix retaliated by announcing a multiyear production deal with Shonda Rhimes, whose Shondaland dramas (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) have been a centerpiece for Disney-owned ABC for the past decade. Disney’s rejoinder came in September, when Iger announced that the company would also pull Marvel and Lucasfilm (i.e., Star Wars) content from Netflix to put on its entertainment app. The battle lines within the entertainment world are quickly being redrawn. Just a few years ago, Netflix was still regarded as an online video upstart, and its content

companies’ shows and can become a creative powerhouse in its own right. (Disney will surely not be the last studio to pull its content from the service, although Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson estimates that Netflix will have 150 million subscribers by 2020, with or without Frozen.) Disney, meanwhile, needs a streaming arm to build powerful, direct relationships with viewers, which will be increasingly important to sustaining its many other divisions, from toys to theme parks, in a world of growing entertainment options. That means Disney must build a digital presence that has, so far, eluded the company. Disney’s biggest streaming experiment to date, DisneyLife, launched in the UK in late 2015, offering Disney and Pixar movies and Disney Channel TV shows. It failed to take off, crippled by a $15-a-month (R206) price tag, nearly twice that of Netflix. “Disney has traditionally been a premium product,” says Eric Jackson, founder and president of the media hedge fund EMJ Capital. “But in streaming, Disney is starting from being compared to Netflix.” Some analysts suggest that Disney may Netflix’s Ted have to price its new Sarandos, left, is entertainment app as pouring money into low as $5 (R69) a month original content, while Disney CEO to woo current Netflix Bob Iger, right, subscribers into signing pushes his company up for another service. into streaming. Another challenge will be keeping people engaged, month after month. The task is similar to Disney’s efforts to get people to “drag their kids to Disneyland to see Mickey and Minnie once a year,” says Blair Westlake, the former chairman of Universal Television and head of media and entertainment for Microsoft, “only on a more frequent basis and in a much transform into something even more crowded market.” bigger: a one-stop entertainment Disney will also have to create the kind of seamless, user-friendly interface that empire that not only launches new companies such as Netflix and Hulu have perfected over the years. Although Disney shows and movies seemingly every invested $2.5 billion to become the majority owner of BAMTech, which is building the day, but also creates zeitgeistback end of its apps, it still needs to attract and empower tech talent to develop its new rattling brands that extend beyond services. “Who comes out of MIT and Stanford and goes, ‘I want to work at the Walt the living room and into physical Disney Company. I want to work at Time Warner. I want to work at Viacom.’?” says products. In other words, Netflix BTIG analyst (and relentless Disney bear) Rich Greenfield. “They don’t want to work for wants to become Disney—before media companies’ stock. There isn’t the upside potential, and there isn’t the work Disney can become Netflix. It’s a environment that there is in Silicon Valley. If you spend a day at the Google campus dynamic being repeated across industries, from “Netflix wants and spend a day at the Disney campus, they’re totally different experiences.” Disney’s strength, of course, is the intimate hold that it has on consumers around finance to hospitality, as to become the world—and the myriad mechanisms it has to reinforce that embrace. Disney love technological innovations Disney— to materialise simply from breathing air, such that a 3-year-old who has never proliferate: The digital before Disney seems seen The Little Mermaid will still proudly wear an Ariel T-shirt, listen to the soundtrack, disrupter and the legacy can become and read Little Mermaid books from the library—all with little encouragement from her player are coming into Netflix.” parents. This depth of engagement will help the company mobilise its new digital direct competition. offerings. Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis has posited that Disney could offer a The stakes are high for both free trial of its streaming services to all of its theme-park guests and instantly amass Netflix and Disney. With content millions of subscribers. and distribution pipelines fusing In contrast, Netflix has been obsessively focused on doing one thing better than across the entertainment industry, anyone else: streaming. Its original content garners critical acclaim and buzz, but not yet Netflix needs to prove that it isn’t the kind of marketplace momentum that drives revenue in other areas, such as clothing dependent on licensing other chief, Ted Sarandos, was preoccupied with trying to “become HBO faster than HBO can become us,” as he said in 2013. Today, with more than 100 million worldwide users, 91 Emmy nominations for original shows this year, including Stranger Things and The Crown, and a $7 billion content budget for 2018 (nearly three times that of HBO), Netflix has eclipsed its onetime rival in many ways. It’s now racing to



Face Off

and books. For Netflix to compete with Disney, it will need to build brands that resonate beyond a night on the couch—and then market the bejesus out of them. “Netflix needs to do a lot of offline marketing,” says one digital insider. “Outside of the House of Cards billboards on Sunset [Boulevard], they haven’t had to do that yet on a global basis.” Disney, meanwhile, creates months- and even years-long movie campaigns that seem to touch consumers from all angles. Its approach includes teasing viewers with exclusive shorts, flooding Comic-Con with talent, and premiering trailers on Disneyowned platforms, such as Jimmy Kimmel Live! Netflix is starting to demonstrate a similar acumen—it premiered a trailer for the new season of Stranger Things during the Super Bowl and streamed the first eight minutes of the show’s first episode on Twitch. But its primary weapon remains money, as was evident during this year’s Emmy campaign, when the company rented out a lavish space in Beverly Hills and hosted nonstop cocktail parties to promote its shows. Signs of Netflix’s broader strategy are starting to emerge from its new foray into physical products. Late last year, it launched a line of merchandise based on Stranger Things. Sold through the retailer Hot Topic, it’s rumoured to be heading to Target. Netflix also poached a VP from entertainment agency WME to become a licensing manager, charged with finding “curated ways to interact with our most popular content,” according to the job posting. This push is still in its infancy, but it coincides with Netflix’s desire to own more of its original content. The company has traditionally licensed even its original shows, such as Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, from production companies. But it wholly owns Stranger Things and titles from Millarworld, the comicbook company that it acquired this year—allowing it to reap profits from any ancillary products. Evergreen items like T-shirts and

posters would also allow Netflix to drive awareness for its content, which is released all at once online and deprived of the drawn-out buzz of season-long rollouts for network and cable shows. This marketing buffer could help as Netflix looks to fill a “gaping hole,” as one source put it, in its kids’ programming. Without Disney, Netflix’s biggest supplier of children’s content is DreamWorks Animation, which licenses movies such as Madagascar and Trolls and creates original shows for the service. But it’s hard to put Dawn of the Croods in the same league as Disney’s Sofia the First. Netflix’s own efforts have yielded clever kids’ shows such as Bottersnikes and Gumbles, though nothing that’s broken through. As EMJ Capital’s Jackson says, “They’re going to have to show that they have the same chops on the children’s spectrum that they’ve shown in the dramatic area.” As Disney and Netflix duke it out, other emboldened players are entering the field. Apple will reportedly invest $1 billion in original content in 2018—and that’s just in its first year of programming. Facebook is also said to be piling $1 billion into getting people to watch original videos created expressly for its platform. And Amazon, which is nipping at Netflix’s heels in both subscribers and spending, is putting $4.5 billion into content in 2017, a figure that could rise next year. “This is shifting on a daily, weekly basis,” says Peter Csathy, chairman of Creatv Media, a tech- and media-focused advisory firm. “It’s one big race to reach our hearts and minds and eyeballs.” And when the technology inevitably changes, it’ll start all over again.


S T R E A M ON How will Disney’s new services stack up against Netflix’s behemoth one? Here’s a closer look.

1. The content

2. The technology

3. The price



Netflix is pouring $6 billion this year into English- and local-language programming around the world; next year, it plans to spend $7 billion on licensed shows and original material from the likes of David Letterman and the Coen brothers. And then there’s whatever Shonda Rhimes is cooking up.

ESPN, which alone is spending $7.3 billion on content this year, will launch its service next year—no word yet on whether NBA and NFL games will be on it. The Disney-branded entertainment app, coming in 2019, will house Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm movies, along with original films and TV series.

With an assist from its sophisticated recommendation engine and new video previews, Netflix’s recently overhauled user interface makes surfing more seamless and enjoyable.

Disney is tapping BAMTech to create its app. The streaming company, which spun out from Major League Baseball and is now majority-owned by Disney, is considered the gold standard for streaming technology.

Netflix counts more than 100 million subscribers (half of them abroad), who pay roughly $10 a month. Those subscriptions don’t cover costs—yet.

Most analysts agree that Disney should keep the price low, but that will be tough with so much premium content going to the app. (The Crown); (The Last Jedi)

The Last Jedi, from Disneyowned Lucasfilm. LEFT: Netflix’s The Crown.





My Way

EMPOWERING YOUTH THROUGH INNOVATIVE BANKING Standard Bank Head Incubator and Feenix Interim CEO Jayshree Naidoo is giving students the opportunity she never had, through her bank’s crowdfunding initiative. Writer: Saarah Survé

Jayshree Naidoo grew up in Chatsworth, a township on the outskirts of Durban. She completed her schooling there, but due to financial constraints could not study full-time. She decided to study part time while working and has since studied Computer Science, Systems Engineering, Project Management and Marketing. She has an honours qualification in e-Commerce, a banking qualification – a CAIB (SA), and an MBA. She is currently registered for her PhD. With over 25 years of work experience, Naidoo has had multiple careers and worked in several sectors; such as IT, e-commerce, marketing, strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship.

What is Feenix? Feenix is a crowdfunding initiative, which is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people. It is a platform that allows everyone in society concerned about the state of education - and willing to do something about it - to go onto the website ( and make a contribution to a student. What inspired Feenix’s crowdfunding initiative? Access to education remains a major challenge for many people who have the ability, but lack funds. As a proudly digital bank with a history of making a difference, we wanted to ensure our expertise is also harnessed here. What does Feenix mean to you? Personally, it has meant that we all have the power to make a difference and I feel proud to be part of an organisation that has embraced this challenge. Early on, my education was affected by a lack of funds and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, by ensuring that more young individuals have access to education. Since Feenix launched, you have raised over R2 million. Who are the corporate sponsors/donors on the initiative and how do they get involved? We have over 55 business funders. The corporate donors cut across business areas in terms of size and sector. Any corporate can get involved by selecting to use their SED spend. The amount


selected gets paid into a pool fund and is then allocated to students who meet the reporting criteria. Businesses also benefit from receiving a Section 18A tax certificate for all monies donated to Feenix. You have previously held leadership roles in major ICT companies and banks in the country

Inspiring initiative “Access to education remains a major challenge for so many people who have the ability, but lack funds.”

(including DBSA, Discovery and Internet Solutions). How did that experience shape the occupation you now have? Working in various sectors and within different disciplines allows you to think from an ecosystem and big picture perspective. You are not constrained to a single view of the world or by the job that you are appointed to. Having worked in large complex organisations with varying degrees of innovation, bureaucracy, corporate politics, egos, as well as varying levels of admin staff to CEO’s, gives you a fresh perspective on corporate life.

These experiences have helped me create positions where I can add the most amount of value to the organisation I am in, while still ensuring I use all of my skills and knowledge. Most importantly, it allows me to choose the roles that are closely aligned to my purpose and value system.



My Way

You chaired and co-founded the South African Innovation Network (SAINE). How did this come about? About ten years ago, a Finnish-led programme, COFISA, was introduced to the country. I was selected as a representative from DBSA to be part of a country leadership programme sponsored by the Government of Finland and South Africa, together with 19 other representatives from government, academia and the private sector. The purpose of the programme was to learn from the Finland innovation practices and transfer that to South Africa, as well as have a positive impact on the South African innovation ecosystem. SAINE was born out of this programme. I was one of the founding members and held the position of chairing the network until I stepped down a few years ago. How important is collaboration on this initiative (the incubator)? Do you have any collaborative partners? Collaboration is key to an initiative like the incubator, especially when we are trying to make a dent on matters of society and economic transformation. Towards the middle of last year I mapped out the entrepreneurship ecosystem for South Africa and published it on LinkedIn and my Twitter account. The next day I had several hundred interactions to my posts, which was a clear reflection to me of how engaged the broader ecosystem is when it comes to driving entrepreneurial activation and support. This ecosystem map was then modified to create a Seven Pillar Framework for the Incubator, which we have now used to apply to incubators in South Africa and in Mozambique, and we are using it to gather knowledge and identify collaboration partners in other countries. In order to deliver “M y early education was what matters to affected by a lack of entrepreneurs, we have funds and I am grateful to engage with several for the opportunity to partners, including make a difference in large local and someone else’s life.” international corporates that provide critical access to market and resource support. Other partners include academic institutions, business development partners, networking and statutory bodies, government, funding, technical experts, and mentors, reward and recognition partners and the entrepreneurs themselves. What would you consider your most memorable highlight and why? The launch of the Standard Bank Incubator on April 16, 2015. It will be a day etched in my memory for the way in which a concept can actually materialise with the support of a large corporate. The Incubator has enabled us to add value to hundreds of entrepreneurs that we have had the privilege of developing through structured programmes and support. I have been working on a concept of linking innovation with entrepreneurship for over 10 years prior to joining Standard Bank. It was amazing actually being able to achieve the vision. It was an idea that is now an innovation, helping us to change the lives of the entrepreneurs we develop and incubate as well as the corporates who we



Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Ghandi

support with linkages to innovative entrepreneurs.


What has been your greatest challenge to date? The lack of big picture thinking in large corporates, and the corporate politics that get in the way of doing the right thing. Great initiatives meet brick walls due to red tape, corporate manoeuvring, personal motivators, corporate jealousy, politics and the lack of deep understanding of the end goal. All of these exist in some way and form in every organisation that I have worked in, and my challenge has always been the energy that it takes to deal with them would be much better used to deliver value to my role.

A walk on the beach, followed by dinner at an Italian restaurant and ending with a romantic comedy, all in the company of my gorgeous husband.

What would you consider as your most notable accomplishment? Being true to myself every day by living a purpose-filled life.


A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle FAVOURITE DESTINATION




I read non-fiction or I write. BIGGEST INSPIRATION

My husband – Jayce. BEST MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE

The birth of my two beautiful children Alysha and Kehshan.

What does the future hold for the incubator? Only time will tell. My wish for the incubator is to expand into many more provinces, as well as rural areas and continents, like we have in Mozambique, where we launched our first Incubator outside of South Africa. I would love for us to deliver value to many more entrepreneurs who can create thousands of jobs, impacting hundreds of thousands of lives on this beautiful continent we call home.












COLOURING BUSINESSES Gi v ing b ac k is al way s upli f t ing w hen you look at t he c hange it h a s brought to ot her pe ople’s li ve s. CE O of C olour w or ks L E S L E Y WAT E RK E Y N help s young, a spir ing entreprene ur s w i t h k no w le dge and s uppor t to achie ve t heir bu sine s s go als.


Lesley Waterkeyn is the founder and CEO of Colourworks, a company that creates extraordinary brand experiences through marketing, design and events. In 1998, she started and transformed her company from a small print agency into the full-scale, integrated marketing business it is today. Waterkeyn grew up in East London, Eastern Cape and attended Clarendon Girls High, before moving to Cape Town where she enrolled at Cape Technikon – better known today as the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She studied computer programming; a course the CEO firmly believes sharpened her way of logical thinking. Waterkeyn started her career in personnel at the Communicate Personnel Group, a specialist recruitment company where she interviewed and placed candidates in high-end IT positions. A position then landed on her desk, which naturally suited her; she placed herself at MCS, a supply, repair and services computer shop in Cape Town where she was in charge of the showroom and walk in sales. After that, she went to Europe for a year where she got international experience in personnel. On her return, she joined M&PD, the biggest IT re-sale company at the time. She became a member in the company’s sales team and sold computers, computer equipment and printers, and eventually won sales person of the year. A firm believer of “paying it forward”, Waterkeyn started Over the Rainbow in 2015, a social enterprise that provides entrepreneurs with knowledge and support to enhance their business success. To date, four training courses with 40 entrepreneurs have been completed, eight passion tests conducted, two #TeenBoss events which are about teen entrepreneurs discovering their talents and learning how to turn their passions into profitable businesses.


How did the idea behind the business come about? “I joined a company called Square One which sold high-end colour printers (Techtronics). Colour printing at that time was very new to the market and colour printers were expensive, but in high demand and we had the best printer on the market. “At Square One my future partner and I identified a gap in the market; we ended up buying one of the showroom printers and starting our own business called Colour Print. “We serviced the financial services market, and because of our turnaround time, efficiency and quality, we made a name for ourselves. This resulted in more work like design, small events and cocktail parties.” In 1998 you started Colour Print. How did you transform the company into Colourworks, the major integrated marketing business it is today? “We changed our name to Colourworks in 2000, basically driven by client’s needs. “The better we were, the more work they wanted to give us – we added a designer to our team. Small events popped up which led to more marketing work.” What makes Colourworks unique from its competitors? Do you have a signature? “In a digitally-obsessed world, we place a premium on Personal Experiences (Power of proximity). “As we have design and production as part of our in-house services, we are able to up the value and lower the cost to our clients.” You also founded Over the Rainbow, an initiative to facilitate the needs of emerging entrepreneurs. What prompted you to establish this social-enterprise platform? “I am part of Entrepreneur Organisation, which has had a fundamental impact on my life and I wanted to help aspiring entrepreneurs to not only survive but thrive in the South African economy. “The statistics show that two out of three businesses fail within their first two to three years, and I wanted to help change that statistic by helping start-up businesses.” Founding two businesses and still being part of them as CEO isn’t child’s play. How challenging is it to manage both Colourworks and Over the Rainbow at the same time? “I ensure that I am strategic about dividing my time. I have negotiated with Colourworks that 20% of my time is spent focusing on OTR and that allows me to be efficient in both. “It boils down to good time management and a good team in place.” What would you consider as your most notable achievements since you started Colourworks? “Quality of clients and long-term relationships. We place an emphasis on building relationships based on

GO-TO-MOTIVATOR? “My EO community.” MORNING ROUTINE? “Meditation, exercise, coffee and work.”

You are an awardee of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge foundation (IWEC) which will be held in November this year in Seattle. Can you tell us more about how this came about? “The chairman of our board nominated me for this award – I was interviewed and received a call a week later to say that I had won. Imagine my surprise and delight!” What would you say are the secrets to a successful and sustainable business? “There are many secrets, but for me it is commitment, focus, dedication and a nevergive-up-attitude. Boldly go and be in it for the long run.” In 2015 you were a finalist in the Most Influential Women in Africa awards. This is a strong accolade to be awarded as you have coached other business women who are now successful in their careers. What was the experience like and what did it mean to you? “It’s great to be recognised, but you realise you can’t do this on your own. Having an amazing team has allowed me to work on my business and give back to others, which has been an incredible blessing for me.”


SLEEP SCHEDULE? “I definitely try for 8 hours every night.” KEY TOOLS? “Meditation, healthy mind, healthy body, and staying ahead. Keeping up


trust. I believe the team at Colourworks really lives this value.”

to date with trends and maintaining balance in work, family and life.” COPING TACTIC? “Staying positive – seeing the glass half full and being solutionorientated.”

What does the future hold for the company? “I feel like I’m just getting started. There is so much that I still want to achieve. We are in the process of adding other services and expanding. We want to continue to do work that matters, is meaningful and makes a positive impact on the economy and the brands we deal with.”

STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “I actually don’t have a problem with that. I am a ’do it now’ kind of person. I believe you should eat the frog first; get the difficult things out of the way.”

PRODUCING WORLD CLASS FILMS A s m any w ould s ay, failure is a stepping stone to s uc c e s s. DE X T E R D AV I S wa sn’t t hro w ing in t he to w el w hen his f ir st f ilm product ion fell to pie c e s, bu t i t t ur ne d ou t to be a big mot i vat ion for his award -w inning f ilm c omp any.

Dexter Davis was born in the American south, Greenville, Mississippi. His parents moved when he was four years old to San Jose, California – better known today as Silicon Valley – where he spent his childhood and early twenties. The move gave his family an opportunity to rise to middle class status and offered him access to better education. He attended Independence High School and later went to college to study marketing and broadcast communication. Davis began his career in entertainment at the age of 23, when he formed Dexter Davis Productions, a company that specialised in organising creative fundraising events for non-profits. A few years later he created an entertainment magazine show called Outtalk Magazine for an NBC (National Broadcasting Company) cable affiliate in San Francisco. He went on to create a boutique production company called Stone Creek Entertainment in Los Angeles, which he expanded in the early 2000s. He later changed the



company’s name to D Street Media Group after relocating to Europe. In 2006 he formed D Street Releasings to distribute international films in the US and brokered a first-of-its-kind co-marketing deal with Volkswagen AG in Germany to support marketing campaigns for foreign language films. Davis has many accomplishments to boast; in 2004 he executively produced his first feature film The Reception, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005. This was followed by Rivers Wash Over Me in 2008 and Somewhere Slow with Jessalyn Gilsig (Glee, Vikings) and David Costabile (Breaking Bad, Billions) in 2011. He has also produced four additional films, with several afloat and going into production in the next year, including the heist film The Blue Mauritius starring Anthony Mackie (Captain America, The Avengers), legendary French actor Gerard Depardieu, and local actors Pearl Thusi and Deon Lotz. The film will be shot mostly in Cape Town and Port Shepstone. How did you get into film making? “I wish I had a more exciting story, but it was quite by chance. I read a book in the early 90s that I couldn’t put down. And as I read on I started to visualise it as a movie. The book was substantial, but I finished it in about three days. I told all my friends about the story and how it should be made into a film. “Three months later I was watching television and saw a movie trailer, and lo and behold there it was, a movie called The Silence of the Lambs, the film based on the book I had read months before. It was kind of funny because I thought I had a special gift to predict a book being made into a film. Call it youth, but it inspired me to become a film producer and the rest as they say, is history.” Tell us more about D Street Media Group. “D Street Media Group is a privately-backed media company and the holding company for D Street Releasing, D Street Pictures, D Street Medienvertrieb GmbH Germany, Americine, SRL Argentina, and the newly formed DSNC LTD in London, England. “The company was founded in 2003 to address a growing need for a truly independent American film company that embraces world cinema. To date the company produces and distributes international films with a strong focus on South Africa and Africa respectfully, with an aim of becoming a more imaginative, more creative and competitive top-notch media company within its space.” How lucrative is film making as a business? “I think it depends on where you are and what type of films you produce. Hollywood, as you know, is extremely successful and producers who make movies for the studios can make millions of dollars per film. “The industry is quite lucrative. You just have to understand how the economics of film work, and more importantly how distribution plays a part. I don’t think I would be in the business if there were not opportunities to do well financially. Particularly because we have a shareholder to answer to. So, if you’re lucky enough to get yourself in the door, then the sky’s the limit if you know what you’re doing.” You started Stone Creek which you later expanded to D Street, what were your motives behind the change and how has it worked out for you? “That’s a good question. I started Stone Creek Entertainment in 1999 with a limited amount of seed capital. I really didn’t understand the business like I do today and had no idea how long it could take to get a project off the ground, or that anything could unexpectedly derail a project.

GO-TO-MOTIVATOR? “A book called 100 Films and a Funeral. It’s the story of Polygram Filmed Entertainment, the company I’m most influenced and inspired by. Unfortunately, Polygram is no longer around. Once a Dutch company owned by Phillips, it really gave Hollywood a run for its money. It’s a required read at D Street and I read it whenever things get tough, to remind me why I’m doing what I do.”


The company was in the middle of prepping our first film which was going to be shot in Spain and New York City. It was nearly two years after we opened the doors to our offices in Beverly Hills. Everything seemed to be on track and then the world as we knew it changed forever. “The World Trade Buildings in Manhattan came down and so did our production. Since we were shooting overseas, no insurance company would bond the film and agents were not allowing actors to fly on long haul flights to Europe. So basically the film was pushed back indefinitely. By this time we had run out of money and had depended on the film to keep us afloat, but when it didn’t happen we were in big trouble. It was a sad time for the country, the world and our little company. “I made the decision to close shop, but wasn’t throwing in the towel. I previously attended the Cannes Film Festival for three years straight and was fascinated by the European movie industry and how they financed films. I decided to move to Paris to learn first-hand how films were put together and that led to me living in London, Rome and ultimately Berlin. It was while in London that I decided to start over, but I needed a fresh start and that meant coming up with a new name for the company, a name that would allow us to be more diversified and more than just a production company. “After the experience with Stone Creek, I never wanted to depend on just one aspect of the industry, and by this time I knew I wanted to become a distributor, to have more control of the product. If things were going too slow on the production side, we could distribute other people’s films and have a revenue stream to support the company. “I’m very grateful for the experience of failing with Stone Creek so early in my career. It taught me so much about what not to do, but more importantly what to do better. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. We’ve now been in business for over fifteen years, so yes, I think it’s worked out for me.” How important is the support and marketing campaigns for foreign language

MORNING ROUTINE? “The first thing I do is check my email. Being an international company there are a lot e-mails that show up in my inbox in the middle of the night. I believe in staying on top of emails. It’s the key to not having too much stress throughout the day.”

films in developing countries in Africa? “Aren’t American movies considered foreign language films in countries where English is not an official language? I think I understand the question, but it doesn’t really matter if a film is foreign language or not. All films should be supported and have good marketing campaigns behind them. “With all the attention given to social media, television, handheld devices (etc.) it’s difficult to break through all the noise. For a film of any sort to succeed, people need to know they exist. It’s not unlike selling most products. The methodologies of advertising and marketing may have changed, but the fundamentals remain as traditional as selling a bar of soap 60 years ago.” What would you consider your most memorable highlight and why? “I would have to say my first one, The Reception. We produced it in eight days for $5 000 (R66 800). It was the early days of digital cameras and I convinced the director to shoot the film for hardly any money, because I wanted to challenge Robert Rodriguez. “Rodriguez shot his 1992 action film El Mariachi for $7 000 (R93 500). I knew my director was talented because he had a Sundance pedigree and because of that, we could convince people to work for free or on deferment. “We made the film in late 2003 in upstate New York, and a year and a half later we premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival to a sold out theatre. I was honestly expecting maybe twenty people to show up, but in fact it was over 800 people with more wanting to get into the packed theatre. For your first film you can’t get better than that.” What are the key secrets to producing a successful film? “As an executive producer you’re usually around at the very beginning stage of a project. It could be a concept or a completed script you’ve optioned, but being a part of it early on allows you to have your footprint on the development. “The most important elements for me in terms of producing a successful film are the

SLEEP SCHEDULE? “It’s horrible. I don’t fall asleep until after midnight and typically wake up before 6am. I’m exhausted if I sleep too long, but it’s definitely something I need to work on.”

script and the casting. There’s a popular saying in the business used on Broadway and in Hollywood: ‘If it’s not on page, it’s not on the stage’. It means that what the audience sees should be written down in a good script. Casting is a bit of an art form and when you get both right, it’s difficult to go wrong.” Marketing and distribution of films is an important and essential part of the film business. However, it has become a significant obstacle to many companies, distributors and producers in the Southern African film industry. What can be done to bridge the gap between Hollywood, Bollywood and Africa in terms of circulation? “I often say South Africa and Africa do not have film industries yet, because of the obstacles cited. “It’s difficult to bridge the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood because Africa is severely under-screened. If you take South Africa for instance, with its population of nearly 60 million people, it has less than 800 screens in the whole country. Compare that to Germany with nearly the same population, but almost 5 000 screens, one can easily see the disparity. “America has over 40 000 screens, the most in the world, and is less populated than China and India, who also suffer from being under-screened for their sizes. “Another factor is the lack of a major middle class in South Africa. The cost of movie tickets for a family of four is just out of reach for most people. When it’s considered a luxury to go to the movies, it’s hard to build an audience that can sustain an industry. Until those two things are resolved I don’t have much confidence that the gap can be bridged. “Having said that, we believe D Street might have a possible solution to this challenge. I’m betting on our ability to create a star system in the country by pairing African talent with other international movie stars in films we produce for the global market. Lupita Nyong’o is a perfect example of an African actor benefiting from this model. She was a complete unknown before the film 12 Years a Slave. However, with Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the film, she was not only recognised and rewarded with an Oscar from the Academy, but the world got to see her amazing beauty and talent. If she’d done the same movie with lesser known co-stars, I assure you we still might not know her name. “So, what I’m saying is there are many more Lupita’s out there and if we can provide opportunities for African talent in commercial films and the international market, a star system will be born. “Once a star system is established, African producers can produce South African or African films with home-grown talent in their projects. Those films will have a greater chance for North American and European distribution. Whereby creating a substantial revenue stream for African-based production companies, essentially giving them the opportunity to use other country’s movie screens to support their operations and rightfully participate in the lucrative film industry, like their Western counterparts.” What would you consider as the company’s most notable accomplishment since inception? “It was the co-marketing deal we made in 2006 with Volkswagen in Germany. The deal allowed VW to align itself with foreign language films we distributed in America. “I believe it was the first time a car manufacturer had done such a deal where ‘logo placement’ on our film trailers, posters and other collateral materials to promote the film took the place of product placement, which is the more traditional way non-entertainment companies market their products with movies. “It was a very successful campaign and we’re currently looking to have more partnerships like this with African companies operating in America. We want to be the goto-company for African and South African films that are acquired for the US market.”

KEY TOOLS? “The internet; the possibility to learn about almost anything is extremely powerful.”

COPING TACTIC? “Breathing and not taking things too personally.”

STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “The desire for D Street to be a billion-dollar company within ten years.”



I N N OVAT I V E BUSINESS WAYS S er ial entreprene ur A DA M DE M B O V S K Y of Innovat ion F actor y is one big t hinker w ho w on’t s et t le for le s s in t he bu sine s s gam e and t ur n s pre dic ament s into bu sine s s ide a s.

Adam Dembovsky is the Managing Director of Innovation Factory, an interior construction company that manufactures and installs eye-catching spaces and platforms to showcase products; whether in the form of an exhibition stand, retail shop, mall display or commercial fit out. He completed his BCom Economics and Management Science degree at Stellenbosch University. He majored in business management and entrepreneurship science, and went head-first into the entrepreneurial world doing business out of his friend’s garage in Woodstock, Cape Town. Dembovsky has a rather diverse work background. After varsity, he ventured into filmmaking and worked for a company that produced documentaries for National Geographic. Afterwards, he was a bricklayer and piloted the construction of a house built out of custom-made bricks that he and his team created themselves. He has also founded an ice manufacturing business, worked in the print industry and owned a mobile-vending company. Where did the idea for Innovation Factory come from? “I’ve always been drawn to manufacturing. Very few businesses actually create something – it’s a very powerful notion. After a failed business, I spent a long time analysing why the business didn’t work. After some deliberation, I realised that I needed to work towards a business that had high barriers to entry but with a large enough target market. “I’ve always worked for myself and hard work has always been important to me. My parents made me work for pocket money from as early as I could remember. I just love business. As long as you can approach existing problems in a new and innovative way, in order to unlock value to the stakeholders, the industry itself is irrelevant. “I take on every business and opportunity under a simple premise; I believe that



Give us more information on Innovation Factory and what it is about. “The success of Innovation Factory is truly a reflection on the unbelievably talented, passionate and dedicated people who work within the brand. Each person we employ is by right an expert in their particular discipline. I believe we have the strongest crew in the country. We are only as good as our last build and we try and make sure that every build is a reflection of the best we can possibly be. “There is something really beautiful and honest about what we do. We create value which is real and tangible. We produce something magnificent from nothing, which serves as a tool for our clients to sell their products and services to create even more value. It’s about taking an idea and focusing the collective effort of many to transfer that dream into something you can see and touch. I’m very proud of what we do.” What was your first entrepreneurial pursuit and what led you to sell that business? “The first business I owned was called Ice Cubed Manufacturing. This was a micro start-up venture which initially launched with a single ice machine and operated out of a friend’s garage in Woodstock. “Within six months, the business moved to an industrial warehouse and the client base grew by over 15 000%. Within 12 months, Ice Cubed Manufacturing was the primary ice supplier to the majority of retail and restaurant outlets in Sea Point, Camps Bay and the Cape Town City Bowl. The business grew rapidly and was ultimately unable to manufacture enough ice to keep up with the swelling demand: a fantastic position to be in for any manufacturer. “The business was ultimately sold to a subsidiary of a listed company which, at the time, had invested several million rands into the biggest commercial ice plant and refrigerated storage facility in Africa. It occurred to me that success could be attributed to two things: capital and opportunity.” The retail and brand space construction is an industry filled with density and pressure, how do you keep being the best host for big events, exhibitions, road shows and layout designs for shop fittings, aisles and stages? “I’ve never thought of competition as a bad thing. Good competition props up an industry. As an organisation, we have endeavoured to distinguish ourselves as a cut above the rest by offering a specialist service and approach which is tailored to our customers. We innovate, consult and work with like-minded clients to bring exceptional value to their projects.”

GO-TO MOTIVATOR? “The Rocky Soundtrack! Obviously! Other than my aspiring delusions of grandeur, I’m also motivated by my family. I have an incredible wife (who I’m actually kind of scared of) and an 18-month-old daughter who rules my house with an iron fist (I’m terrified of her). They are both my rock and my passion. Everything I do is for them.”


MORNING ROUTINE? “I wake up early and try to get a few important mails out for the day before the sun rises. I drink an espresso and spend a few moments taking in the beauty of the new day and filling myself with gratitude. This is so important. I then hit Crossfit, grab a protein shake and spend a bit of time with my daughter. When I get to work, I greet all my staff and spend at least 15 minutes irritating my super highly strung and overworked business partner. This brings me great satisfaction.”

What makes Innovation Factory unique from its competitors? Do you have a signature and what inspires it? “It’s a cliché. I hate clichés, but it’s pretty simple: we try to deliver a superior quality product with superior service and a fair price. Quality and service are not trade secrets; these are a common denominator between successful manufacturers. By doing this, you are prioritising your customer and creating a positive perception of your brand. A positive perception translates to a happy client. “Our entire business has been built around prioritising the client and their agenda, which often means playing an advisory role. Thereafter, we are in a position to maximise our clients return on investment and advice on material selection, detailing, finishes, budget, timing etc. After this, it’s about communication and commitment to delivery. “If there is one defining attribute which sets us apart, it’s our commitment to delivery. My team has developed a culture of delivering a flawless execution. We will never leave a site or turn our backs on a job until the customer is completely satisfied and we are happy to put our name to the build.” A company of this calibre must have a highly skilled, qualified and experienced technical team behind the scenes. Where are you based and how many employees does the company have? “We are based in Strijdom Park in Randburg. Our headcount fluctuates based on workflow, but at the moment we employ about 55 people. We work with subcontractor teams when we are on big projects, where the head count can exceed 70.” Do you have a global presence? “We work with a lot of international agencies and have established a strong global reputation as a reliable, top-notch manufacturer in South Africa. Our global

SLEEP SCHEDULE? “I’m a chronic insomniac. My sleep schedule could be described as erratic at best, but I’m convinced that humans need less sleep than what they think they do. Being an insomniac and father, every now and then clocking in a solid seven hours of natural sleep is pretty much the best thing in the world. I feel bulletproof afterwards. Waking up early is critical; I feel like when I wake up late the world has a head start on me and I’m playing catch-up for the rest of the day.”


whatever I focus my energy on, I can make it work with some level of success. By constantly challenging and questioning the status quo, I realised I could unlock bigger, better things and in turn bring value to my employees and customers alike. “Walking through the mall one day, I became aware of all the different shops, their unique layout, the furniture and how each store created a different space experience to tell a story about their product or service. I saw the harmonisation between the environment and the product, and how this was essential to every retail outlet to sell whatever they were selling. “This led me to consider how much construction was involved and how broad the requirements were. The rest, as they say, is history.”

clientele grows every year. “This is strictly through word of mouth; we don’t focus any marketing efforts in this avenue. We have done a lot of work throughout Africa and it is commonplace for Innovation Factory to manage beyond-border builds.”

Studio and Best Custom Stand for Mercedes-Benz at the SA Festival of Motoring, as well as the Airbus Stand in collaboration with SSQ at the Aerospace and Defence Expo. “As large build customer specialists, we won every award in our category. We were really chuffed to be recognised, but truthfully, the best awards are when a client calls me up after an expo to tell me that their show was a success and how we formed an integral part of this success. The moment you shift from a contractor to a partner is what it’s all about for me.”

Local and international brands are opening stores across the country. A year ago the Mall of Africa opened with over 300 stores, many of which are flagship. What are your thoughts on these new developments in South Africa’s retail and brand industry? “The global trend is moving away from fixed retail space. Amazon has wreaked havoc in the US though their online shopping platform and has devastated retail lease agreements. It’s a game changer. I think there will always be a future for brick-and-mortar retail, but gone are the days where the premise is as simple as ‘build the mall and the people will come’. “We need to be thinking ahead. We need to focus on creating an instore experience which cannot be replicated on a computer along with building value and convenience, and a holistically enjoyable encounter for the shopper. I’m pleased to see how the landscape and shopping dynamic of strip malls are evolving to incorporate a mixed bag of diverse and credible retailers.”

A lot goes into planning and the outsourcing of resources from third parties for an actual design to be made, the production phase and towards the completion of an end product. What are your thoughts on collaborative partners? “We have many partners. A lot of my customers are also my competitors. I’ve made a point of endeavouring to establish strong and mutually productive working relationships with other professional service providers within the industry. “Most critically, I only want to associate myself with professional and ethical organisations who value our work ethic and are committed to displaying the same professional disposition to their stakeholders. Collaboration is huge. It’s a critical success factor for us.”



Innovation Factory has worked with local and international brands and has won numerous awards for its interior exhibition designs. What are the business’s other most notable accomplishments since its inception? “Last year, we won awards for Best Custom Stand External Design for the Samsung S7

KEY TOOLS? “Books and mentors, I’m a jack of many trades, but probably a master of none. I’m quick to put my pride in my back pocket. When I need help, or don’t understand something I’m not shy to ask. I have been lucky enough to surround myself with a plethora of various professionals - architects, designers, lawyers, project managers, accountants, technicians… the list goes on. I routinely seek out expert advice.”

What does the future hold for the company? “Innovation, diversification, supply chain management; the opportunities are endless. We’d like to expand and cover a broader market base and work towards touching on various price points for different clients with different budgets. “What I’m really excited about is a move towards conscious capitalism. There are enormous social inequalities in our country, and while I wait for the economists and politicians to implant board-based radical macro-level change, I’d like to do what I can to make South Africa a better, fairer and more prosperous place. I’d like to find a way to empower young, motivated people and develop their skills so that they may become the best version of themselves and, in turn, pay this forward. “There is no real apprenticeship programme here in SA, for aspiring young carpenters and shop fitters. I’ve seen an ever increasing skills vacuum with the master carpenters of yesteryear either immigrating or dying. Along with this, goes years of priceless knowledge and experience, perpetuating a cycle of declining mediocrity for professional interior builders. “I believe that Innovation Factory may be able to ultimately put a sustainable skills programme in place to develop and groom young South Africans to become better and encourage them to empower others, thereby removing the evils of decreasing marginal mediocrity and perpetuating a new era of excellence and pride within the industry.”

COPING TACTIC? “When the going gets tough, nothing lifts my spirits quite like firing up a vanilla-scented candle, switching on my favourite Backstreet Boys compilation and running a hot bath. No, I’m kidding. I only listen to punk rock. I do love scented candles, though. Seriously though, I love the outdoors: fly fishing, shooting, mountain biking, rock climbing, skateboarding. Throwing a ball for my two idiot Rottweilers brings me immeasurable joy and sheds often-needed perspective.”

STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “Being an insomniac I often battle to switch off at night. When I have been unproductive during the day I get what I call ‘pillow demons’. This is the noise in your head, all the things you should have done but didn’t. This noise for me can be unbearably loud so I make a point of trying to get through as much as I can. It’s a lifestyle choice. I want to come home with a clear and unburdened conscience so that I can focus entirely on my family.”


REDESIGNING LIFE INSURANCE P E T E R C A S T L E DE N, CE O of IndieF in, a nimble star t- up li fe in s uranc e c omp any, is c au sing a shi f t in t he indu str y.



Life insurance, at its core, is something that is beneficial to society. However, it is overly complex, cumbersome, opaque, not trusted, and often not well-liked. The core need and core solution of insurance is valid and sound, yet for some reason, the industry has succeeded in making it an unpleasant experience to deal with. Worst of all, we see quality insurance becoming less accessible to the people who need it most. To maintain the quality of life insurance, Peter Castleden founded IndieFin, an insurance company which aims to solve personal finance problems through design. By its nature, design is the art of solving defined problems that enhance the human experience. Castleden was born and raised in Durban. He realised early on he was more academically inclined, and enjoyed problem solving and learning how things worked. He knew where to focus his energy to get maximum output for minimum effort. He grew up in a middle-class household, and funding to study in a different city wasn’t a given. This was a problem he wanted to figure out himself and realised that studying actuarial science could help him achieve the goal of doing something challenging and business-related. In his final year of high school, he applied at a number of big insurance companies who offered bursaries, and luckily managed to win a Sanlam scholarship to UCT to study actuarial science. After receiving his degree, Castleden had to work at Sanlam for a minimum of four years, where he learnt more about the business of an insurer, rather than the more technical parts his actuarial background had taught him. Having qualified quickly, opportunities within Sanlam opened up and he moved out of the actuarial department – where most students start – and went into product development. “I got to work on some really interesting projects, and a key to my development was fostering a mentoring relationship with a senior colleague whom I had a lot of respect for. “From there I actually moved back into a more actuarial area, this time to head up a function called ‘Actuarial Product Management’. Although more technical in nature, this function essentially was the conduit between actuarial and the various businesses. “Here the job entailed looking after technical product design, pricing, risk management and reinsurance. But more importantly, it was here where I first had to learn how to lead and manage people, inheriting a team of about 45, many of whom were seasoned professionals with me being 26 at the time. “I worked in this role for five years. It allowed me to get a better depth of understanding of the technical nature of insurance, but also start thinking strategically about ways to add value to the business through technical problem solving and engineering. “I also learned the art of successfully negotiating a large corporation, where there can sometimes be differing agendas. More recently, I was lucky enough to attend Harvard Business School to complete their programme in leadership development, which was an all-round fantastic experience.” The technological advancement of our everyday lives has meant that people are demanding more convenience, more transparency and more accessibility through their devices. On this front, the insurance industry is lacking in customer service, especially in comparison to retail and travel industries. Castleden shares more insights into IndieFin’s start-up and how technology influenced the company: “From a personal perspective, I was never openly proud of working in financial services. This was primarily because I could see so clearly

GO-TO-MOTIVATOR? “My desire to continually be learning and challenging myself is what gets me up in the morning. Every day is an opportunity to learn something more and make a positive difference to those around you by applying what you have learnt. I’ve found in the past, some of my most unhappy periods were when I wasn’t learning or having to overcome challenges. The challenge of building a new business from the ground up is incredibly invigorating, and the opportunity to learn from the brilliant people I work with is incredibly satisfying.” MORNING ROUTINE? “I have three young kids, so my morning routine typically involves getting up with enough time to have them fed and ready for school. During the mad rush, I will spend a few minutes catching up on the news, and will answer any work questions which can be answered quickly and easily. After the morning drop-offs are done, I hit the gym for about an hour, and then get ready for the work I have set myself to accomplish for the day.” SLEEP SCHEDULE? “My goal is to aim for 7 hours of sleep a night. I am disciplined about getting home in time so I can have dinner with my kids, and spend some quality time with them before they go to bed. I normally leave my phone and email off during this time. After all the kids are settled in bed, I’ll get back online and continue to work on anything pressing which I’d prefer not to leave for the next day. I find that I can be very productive between 8pm and 10pm, predominantly because the distractions are limited, so I can normally get in the zone. Before sleeping I like to read and will often switch between books and blogs depending on what I’m curious about at the time.” KEY TOOLS? “At IndieFin we foster a very open and collaborative working style. We adopt a lot of tools within the team to enhance productivity. We use Slack for messaging, G-suite for documentation, presentations and spreadsheets, and a great tool called Real Time Board, which is ideal for sharing ideas and collaborating from remote locations. The toolset means these days I seldom send

how much better we could be doing as an industry to add more value to the lives of our clients. A year or so before we started IndieFin, a friend and I launched a basic website to help people make better financial decisions. “I taught myself rudimentary HTML, CSS and Javascript, and managed to produce some fairly sophisticated tools to help people out. This was a simple side project we did for fun, but I was lucky enough that some important people at Sanlam saw where my interests were taking me, and the opportunity to do something new came up,” says Castleden “We believe that the core of many financial services is pretty good at doing what they are designed to do. Take life insurance, for example, the core of life insurance is that people pay a small sum of money to an insurer every month, and if tragedy strikes, the insurer will pay out a claim. There is nothing wrong with this fundamental insurance model. “For a variety of reasons, the traditional insurance industry has done a great job of degrading the core of insurance by creating unnecessary layers of complexity, opacity and bureaucracy. And unfortunately, it often feels like the client – who we are supposed to be helping – gets lost along the way. “At IndieFin we have started from first principles. We don’t believe the core of insurance is broken, but everything around it is Using the incredible experience and knowledge of our partners, combined with the available technology and modern approached to design, we built a business from the core outwards, and truly deliver wins for the clients,” he says. “Technology is a massive enabler which allows us to reach places that ordinarily would have been difficult to reach. We are actively working on delivering versions of IndieFin across Africa, with a view to explore markets beyond Africa once we’ve established a proven recipe. “Our clients are at the centre of everything we do and every decision



we make. Having this clarity of principle makes it quite easy to make decisions. When we reach a crossroad, it’s the choice that is better for the client which we make. “By taking this approach, at IndieFin we have created a suite of incredibly high quality insurance products which will do what they are designed to do, with no surprises for our clients. We can help people understand their needs, get underwritten and covered all in under ten minutes,” says Castleden. “The current version of IndieFin is designed for individuals, and our existing product suite offers a comprehensive range of life insurance products, including protection from disability and serious illnesses. Life insurance is generally a good thing for society, and can often mean the difference between families landing in poverty or not. This means that we are very much in the business of securing lives. “We accomplished to build a fully operational life insurance business, with complete underwriting and high quality, comprehensive products, in less than three months and without having spent too much money doing it. The other thing I’m quite proud of is that we have managed to build a team of exceptional individuals with a range of diverse talents and backgrounds. Getting the right people on board is often easier said than done, and it’s exciting that we are able to work with some of the brightest talent out there. “This is only the beginning. And we have big ambitions. The core team at IndieFin is in it for the long term, and we’re thinking towards the future in the way we architect the business and set it up to succeed. On the product side, there are some exciting developments happening too. An investment product we are working on releasing in the coming months is very exciting. We are actively exploring opportunities with partners further into the future already, for example, taking our design approach to vehicle insurance, and potentially banking. “I believe every sustainable business follows a similar set of principles. Namely, a business, to survive and thrive, needs to generate value. Once value has been generated, a good business can rightfully capture a small proportion of that value by themselves, which is essentially profit. “In this way, a business can create so called win-win situations. We want our clients to be better off having dealt with us, and in return we can earn a profit. Predatory businesses which win at the expense of their clients are simply unsustainable, since that racket eventually gets found out. Our focus at IndieFin right now is to create as much value for our clients as possible, and if we can get that right, we will do well at the same time. In other words, we win if our clients win.” Castleden believes that when buying the correct life insurance



emails, but rather have real time conversations with the team. It takes some getting used to, but once there is mass adoption in the team I find that it increases productivity immensely.” COPING TACTIC? “It is quite easy to get overwhelmed, especially when there seems like there is a mountain ahead of you, and so little time and resources available to climb it. There are a few tactics I try to use in situations like this, which I find have been useful to me: Share how you are feeling with your core team. If you’re worried, anxious or overwhelmed, sharing the fact that you’re feeling like this with some trusted colleagues often helps you to gain some perspective. In my experience, bottling things up and pretending everything is okay on the surface, just makes it worse. Your team will appreciate your vulnerability if it is authentic. Take a step back and then try to look forward. Ask yourself whether the thing that is keeping you awake at night will still be an issue a year from now. If the answer is a definite not, then what you’re dealing with is a small issue which you’re blowing up in your head because you’re dealing with it now. If you are dealing with a situation which will still be an issue a year from now, it’s worth dedicating some time in your day to really think about the best approach. Ideally I do this with others to help me get more perspectives on the problem. Schedule time in your own diary to tackle specific tasks. I don’t like making to-do lists and holding thumbs there will be time to do them. Rather, estimate how long it will take doing the task at hand, and put it in your diary to get it done. I find this makes much better use of your time, and lowers stress levels at the same time.” STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “This may sound counterintuitive, but some procrastination in your life is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s often a great way to give your mind a mental break, and I find that I often come up with my best ideas, or better solutions to problems at hand, while procrastinating. That being said, too much of a good thing is a problem. You will never get anything done if you’re permanently procrastinating. My main strategy to avoid procrastination is through keeping a strict calendar. I

for yourself, you are in fact making an investment in you. Your ability to earn an income means you are a fantastic asset which is worth protecting, and life insurance is the best way to do that. “At IndieFin, we believe that when you make the wise decision to invest in yourself, we will also invest in you. And we do this by creating an investment for you with every policy which is bought from IndieFin. “The size of the investment depends on your age and the life insurance premium, and we’ve seen the normal range of investment sizes so far is between R30 000 and R150 000. We have a calculator on our site to help you figure out how much of an investment you can expect. “This investment is created immediately, and while you can’t get your hands on the cash immediately, we give you full control of the investment itself. This means you can choose between various ways of investing it. Do you want to play it safe and earn stable money market returns? Or do you want to put it all in the global equity markets? Or something in between? With your IndieFin Bounty you can choose what you want to do with it, and all the growth from the investment choices is added to your bounty. “What this really means, is that we expect most people’s bounties to grow substantially over time. We give our clients access to the bounty money over time, with the first “cash drop” being available within five years, and every five years thereafter. You can choose to take the cash out of the bounty, or leave it invested where it can continue to grow (and you won’t lose access to it). Whatever is still there when you are 70 (and our projections show it will likely be a very big pot of gold), is yours to take and do whatever you want with.”

FROM SCHOOL R I VA LS TO BUSINESS PARTNERS CR I S P IN INGL I S and A S HL E Y J A ME S have k now n e ach ot her sinc e t heir c omp any ’s inc ept ion, bu t joke t hat t hey w ere s c hool r i vals. B ot h at tende d s chool in C ape Tow n: Inglis at B ishop s and A shle y at Rondebo s ch. Toget her, t hey help t heir c u stom er s s ave money w hen s elling t heir re al e state, by c h arging a s lit t le a s 1.5 % c ommis sion on e ach proper t y s old.

It is safe to say that many of us appreciate any opportunity to save money. Inglis and James made it their responsibility to come up with a cost-saving solution for the real estate industry in South Africa. When the duo started PropertyFox in April 2016, they didn’t anticipate the public’s reaction. Selling their first property in two weeks was the first sign of what was going to become a great business venture. It proved that their endeavours to create an economical solution for their real estate clients were not in vain. Can you give us a brief background of your childhoods and education? Inglis: “I was born in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal. My dad was a civil engineer and worked up there at the time. But I’ve spent most of my life in the Western Cape. I grew up in Durbanville before our family relocated to Rondebosch, where I completed my schooling at Bishops Diocesan College before heading to UCT. My last formal education was an MBA at the University of Cape Town and Cornell University in New York. ”James: “I grew up in Table View before going to boarding school in Rondebosch. I studied a Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Management, while growing my first start-up at the age of 19.”

What was the inspiration behind getting into the property business? Inglis: “More than inspiration to get into property was an inspiration for solving a problem. Transactional fees when it comes to selling and buying property in South Africa have been exorbitantly high for a long time and we saw an opportunity to not only decrease these dramatically, but also to improve on the service levels. PropertyFox is a model that allows you to sell for as little as 1.5% commission while offering you bigger exposure and better service.” James: “The inspiration came from seeing the inefficiencies of the current system and the costs involved in selling one’s most valuable asset; their home. This gave rise to the passion behind PropertyFox.”



Can you give us more information about PropertyFox? Inglis: “Rather than to tweak the existing real-estate model. PropertyFox completely redesigned the model to embrace where the world has progressed in respect to technological advancements. “Rather than emulating the traditional structure of having a single agent looking after every facet of the sales process, we have adopted a team approach. In this approach, each individual team can focus on elements of the process that they are specifically skilled in, whether it be marketing, valuations or negotiations. In doing so, our clients are now able to experience the highest level of service at every turn. By also embracing tech, we are able to offer our service to all neighbourhoods.” James: “PropertyFox launched with a plan to reduce the costs involved in selling one’s home, better the customer service and sell homes a lot faster than the conventional way.” How did the idea of Property Fox come about? Inglis: “Everybody always says, ‘property is a great investment,’ but when you strip away the fees, peripheral costs and time involved with buying and selling a home, it becomes incredibly difficult to get a good return on your ‘great investment’. “We simply looked at the status quo and ironically stripped out and redesigned the traditional model into an ambitious concept model which, upon re-examination, we realised there was something there. Embracing the innovative tech world we live in has allowed us to improve the traditional model in several ways, as well as the most important; price point.” James: “Looking at the transformations of various industries around the world, the property market in South Africa is ripe for an innovative offering that will improve all aspects of the archaic sector.”


GO-TO-MOTIVATOR? INGLIS: “Reading and watching success stories – by putting crazy successes into real terms and understanding how, helps one understand how realistic big dreams can be. Another favourite is the How We Built This podcasts.”James: “Motivational clips and podcasts of successful entrepreneurs.”


What sets the company apart as a new gamechanger in the field, different from other traditional real estate agencies? James: “PropertyFox has a centralised approach that uses technology to allow for an efficient and quick user journey in selling their homes. “PropertyFox is built as a scalable model that allows us to charge a

MORNING ROUTINE? INGLIS: “I’m usually up early in the morning for exercise, generally an outdoor run. It clears my head and helps me get ready for the day. I like to catch up on the news over coffee and

30-SECOND BIO Cri spi n In g li s HOMETOWN

Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal BACKGROUND

Media turned entrepreneurial CAREER TRACK

Used to be a radio DJ at KFM, which is where I had the time to start experimenting entrepreneurially. Invested in studying again to try and channel those energies more effectively and have the luxury to shoot the breeze with other ambitious minds. FAVOURITE BOOK

Red Notice by Bill Browder FAVOURITE FOOD

fraction of what traditional agents charge, savings home sellers millions of rands and ensuring excellent customer service along the way.” Who is your biggest competition and how are you staying ahead? Inglis: “While we deal in the sale of residential property, much like other businesses out there, we like to think that our offering is unique. Even though we offer our services at very low rates, we believe our service levels and consistency of these is what sets us apart from other businesses in our sector.” James: “The traditional real estate agencies of South Africa would be our biggest competitors. We constantly optimise our approach in every aspect of the business, mitigating any risk that a customer will have a bad experience.” How many employees does Property Fox have? James: “PropertyFox currently has 17 employees.”


Exploring the United States FAVOURITE QUOTE

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway WHAT DO YOU DO TO UNWIND

Watching sport or drive. FUTURE GOALS

Grow PropertyFox across South Africa and beyond.

In real estate, how important is working in a team? Inglis: “Being a traditional real estate agent is a very difficult job, as you are expected to be very good at many things; valuations, marketing, negotiating and photography to name a few. Our approach is to afford each of our sellers the opportunity to benefit from individual departments that focus on these core competencies. This structure also allows us to continually reinvest in each of these to constantly improve on our systems and processes in an age where change happens faster and faster every day.” James: “Team work is everything to

then plan my day – critical for productivity.” JAMES: “I try a morning run on the promenade in Sea Point, followed by a Nespresso to kick start a productive day.”

SLEEP SCHEDULE? INGLIS: “I don’t get enough right now, but 8 hours changes the game the next day.” JAMES: “I try get 8 hours sleep minimum. Sleep is crucial for productivity.”

PropertyFox. Our unique team approach allows for great service, ensuring strong results.” The company was launched last year, what would you consider to be the company’s most memorable highlight in this short space of time? Inglis: “While there have been many, I will never forget our first sale. It was for a lovely lady in Pretoria who had been struggling to sell her home for months using traditional methods. “We managed to sell it for her in less than two weeks. It was an incredible feeling of vindication that all our efforts to design a better solution for the South African real estate consumer had not been in vain.” James: “Reaching over R10 million in savings to South African home sellers in year one, compared to the traditional high commissions. This was a strong indication that we were on the right path.” What has been your biggest challenge so far? Inglis: “Growing as quickly as we have. We could never have imagined that we would have had such an enthusiastic reception from the South African real estate community. “ James: “Keeping up with growth.” What are your thoughts on South Africa’s real estate industry? Inglis: “The South African real estate industry is a tremendously exciting and potentially lucrative one for property owners and investors. Our dream is simply to make it possible for more South Africans to be able to participate in it by reducing transaction fees involved in buying and selling homes.” What does the future hold for the company? Inglis: “We hope to grow into the way to buy and sell property in South Africa and beyond.”


“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”Neale Donald Walsch FAVOURITE BOOK

Zero to One – Peter Thiel




Breaking a sweat, being creative and spending time pondering the opportunities that surround us here in South Africa. BIGGEST INSPIRATION

Elon Musk – one of the biggest inventors and entrepreneurs of all time. YOUR FORMULA FOR SUCCESS

Aligning passion, health and optimism. MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT

The day PropertyFox made its first sale up against many traditional estate agents.

What does productivity mean to you? Inglis: “Productivity to me is using ones energies and learnings efficiently.”

KEY TOOLS? INGLIS: “Reading is a great way to shut down the mind, but when that fails I’ve experimented with apps like Headspace, which are good at helping ease the mind to get a good night’s sleep. Avoid the news just before bed!”



Relaxing on the beaches of Thailand

JAMES: “Tight customer relationship management (CRM) systems and communication tools that keep the business efficient at all times.”

Key approach to maximising productivity? Inglis: “Have an idea of where you want to end up, then do some research and reading so you have an idea of the ways and means to achieve your goal, and then go for it!” James: “Always educate yourself on the market, think outside the box and surround yourself with positive people that will keep your mind-set strong.” What is your most productive space? Inglis: “For me it’s more about the time of day. Mine is very early in the morning before the masses wake up. Getting up early limits your distractions and allows you the peace and quiet that our busy world rarely affords us.” James: “Sitting in my office after hours, without any distractions.”

COPING TACTIC? INGLIS: “Friends.” James: “Being passionate is crucial, as it gets you through the tough times without giving up.”

STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? INGLIS: “Creating deadlines for yourself helps, and incorporating other parties into these deadlines helps keep the pressure on.” JAMES: “Go for a run, get high on endorphins and get motivated to change the game.”



D I L I G E N T LY PRODUCTIVE Af ter being in str umental in t he launch of P r udent ial Afr ic a’s ex p an sion into Ghan a – Chief C ommercial O f f ic er A CH U M IL E M A J I J A chat s abou t his p a s sion for c ommerc e and his w or k et hic.

South African expat Achumile Majija has always been passionate about leadership. From as early as primary school, he was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the objectives shared by himself and his peers. While studying in the Western Cape he became the founding member of the Black Management Forum of Young Professionals. “I have served in various leadership positions since high school as well as throughout my varsity years. I was involved with the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce (AIESEC) as the President of the Local Committee,” he says. “That background afforded me opportunities to represent South Africa at the World Youth Congress and the World Business Dialogue in Scotland and Germany respectively.” Majija is passionate about commerce and economics – after high school he decided to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Economics and Finance with an Honours in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management. After joining the investment giant Old Mutual Investment Group as a trainee manager, he earned his stripes through the years and worked his way into the Symmetry MultiManager role. “I then joined Sanlam Investment Management as an Investment Operations Specialist responsible for foreign exchange protocols as well as hedge fund risk and compliance,” enthuses Majija. Having accumulated solid experience in the industry, he then decided to make a leap and pursue a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Leeds Business School in the United Kingdom. “It was only after acquiring an MBA that I decided to stay in the UK and join Prudential, based at the Group Head Office in London.” He adds, “I have been with the company since October 2010 in a number of roles and moved around in some of our markets.”


The company decided to explore other opportunities in emerging markets, and redirected their attempts to Kenya. This move allowed the organisation to put its faith in Majija’s leadership qualities in order to be an integral part of this expansion. Using his past experience in risk, compliance and governance, Majija was entrusted with setting the wheels in motions for this new unit. Still under the employ of the London-based Group Head Office, he is currently the Chief Commercial Officer in charge of the operations at the Accra-based unit. “Using my ‘operations hat’, I helped with the integration of our Kenya business two months after the acquisition. I possibly did something right in Kenya because I was asked to consider a role in one of our other markets. That request was later specified to ‘a market’ which turned out to be Ghana,” says Majija. He adds, “Initially the role was quite fluid; being involved in everything and assisting the CEO with business strategy, while effectively being the bridge between the Group Head Office and the regional office.” After his relocation from the UK to Kenya,

and then to Ghana, Majija slid well into his new role. He overlooks the commercial aspect of the organisation while working hand-in-hand with the CEO on testing new initiatives which might benefit the company. What is his secret to staying productive consistently? Majija believes that his diligent work ethic and multiplied resilience are the dynamic attributes that have allowed him to make a success of every opportunity he has been given. During both his schooling years and working career there was never a point of smooth sailing. “I credit my achievements to my ability to never give up even when the odds are stacked against me. I have a very adaptable mind-set; I practice patience when it comes to evaluating every obstacle I encounter.” He continues, “The ability to sell my story and living up to it has helped me build a reputation that commands respect across all levels. I have learnt that people are a great asset. There is always going to be someone who functions better than me and getting them on my team has worked for me.” Majija has a rare ability of persuading his teammates into implementing his ideas by empowering them with a belief that they helped with the suggestions. He sees this characteristic as a way of sharing his success. Working overseas comes with its own unique set of challenges which differ from one country to the next. For Majija, working abroad has made him despise the culture of entitlement and taught him to be accountable for his own ambitions. More importantly, his experiences in foreign countries have taught him to have a deeper appreciation of his own country – South Africa. Previously selected as a Young Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum and the Rising Star of the SA UK Chamber of Commerce, Majija still has his eyes set on more milestones. He concludes, “In order to remain productive, I tend to focus on what matters most and what will help me derive the best outcome. “I am always keen to make use of the resources around me, including getting input from others to help shape the outcome.”





E L E VAT I N G BUSINESSES W it h c h allenging e c onomic c ondit ion s on t he r is e in t he c ountr y, m any profe s sion al S ou t h Afr ic an s rem ain a s s et r ich, bu t c a sh poor. L amn a CE O CH A RL E S ME Y E R O W I T Z disr upt s t he tradit ion al lending indu str y and re - invent s w hat it me an s to be a p aw nbroker.

Charles Meyerowitz grew up in the small town of Krugersdorp in the West Rand, Gauteng, where he walked barefoot to Silverfields Primary. “That’s how it was done in Krugersdorp,” he says. His family later moved to Johannesburg and he transferred to Fairways Primary School, where he wore shoes. He matriculated from Hyde Park High School. Meyerowitz went to Wits University where he studied to become a chartered accountant, eventually articling at Ernst and Young Business School in Cape Town where he later enrolled for a Higher Diploma in Tax. Meyerowitz started his career working in his family’s dairy processing business, Dairy World, where he stayed for 10 years. The company then merged with DairyBelle, a far larger and national business of which he eventually became CEO, before co-founding Lamna with his partner and old friend, Manuel Franck. Lamna is an alternative lending solution that provides cash flow almost immediately, from assets that you would not normally think of using to create cash flow. What was the inspiration behind the business? “The idea of the business came by chance when I took a short sabbatical from work. I bumped into an old varsity friend whom I had not seen for years. In conversation, the friend suggested I look at a particular website that creates liquidity. “Having come from a very cash-hungry business environment, the business concept resonated with me; which was to create short-term liquidity solutions from surplus or lazy assets. From that conversation, my friend is now a business partner and the idea evolved into Lamna.”



“M Y UPBRINGING ALWAYS EXPOSED ME TO BUSINESS. MY MOM AND DAD WORKED TOGETHER, SO HOME WAS OFTEN AN EXTENSION OF WORK.” How does Lamna work? “Lamna has been designed for most of its clients, which are SMMEs, and provides the necessary liquidity and/or finance to help fulfil an order, complete a project or see them through with additional working capital. SMMEs now have a funding solution that does not require the time, paperwork, budgets, sophistication and regulation that traditional banks require. “Alternative funding solutions are generally aimed at a short-term financing need. Traditional lenders have become increasingly resistant to providing credit due to our current economic climate. In addition to these barriers, getting a loan can take a long time – something many SMMEs do not have. “The solution is perfect for clients who have a liquidity squeeze and have the assets, but not the cash flow. Lamna is tech-based to provide an efficient liquidity solution for clients and prides its self on absolute discretion, respect, and integrity. “We are based around the country: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and we have an office in Botswana. “We believe we have disrupted an old goods-for-cash industry by using technology and a professional, trustworthy attitude to service to create an exceptional client experience. We have re-invented what it means to be a pawnbroker and have made it a viable, trustworthy alternative for cash flow solutions. Lamna is all about creating liquidity and then fostering a trustworthy, commercial relationship with our clients.” What makes a successful and productive business? “My upbringing always exposed me to business. My mom and dad worked together, so home was often an extension of work. I was exposed to the tough times and the good times, the nightly discussions and debriefs of the day and I think that exposure set me off on my business path. Being in an environment where we all lived the business meant that joining the family business, along with some of my brothers and sisters, was a natural step after my studies. “I think that business underpins your life because you spend most of your time on your business. It provides the cash flow and affordability for a particular lifestyle, it creates opportunities and,


GO-TO MOTIVATOR? “To a large extent our clients – these are people who are creating opportunity and putting themselves out there in a tough environment. SMMEs are the key to the growth that we so desperately need in South Africa. Being able to assist them in succeeding is satisfying.” MORNING ROUTINE? “Either a ride on my bicycle, or if it is lift day, I take the kids to school. Then a coffee at my local corner coffee shop and into the office.” SLEEP SCHEDULE? “Somehow bedtime never works until 11pm. Then its lights out until either 4:30am, if it’s a ride day, or 6:15am if its school lift day.” KEY TOOLS? “My trusted Apple Mac computer.” COPING TACTIC? “Be positive. Taking yourself out of the situation and realising that most things don’t work out as badly as your mind says they will. Let things take their course, day by day. Exercise helps me to release stress and clear my mind.” STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “Make a list. Ticking off items as you finish them can be extremely rewarding and motivates you to continue the momentum.”

most importantly, it shapes your reputation. So I think you have to enjoy it to do it properly and it needs to be aligned with your value system.” What was your strategic plan on transparency of the business assets? “In terms of physical safety and security, the assets are well-secured and fully-insured. When we accept an asset, we take on the responsibility of the asset whilst it is in our possession.” What is your default rate and how is it different from other traditional lenders such as banks? “We have a fairly low default rate – our clients are usually cash flow savvy business owners and use the funding for a specific purpose/ project rather than general overhead use. That means their cash flow is fairly predictable and therefore they are able to settle the loan in terms of the expectations. We differ from traditional banks in that we are not totally process driven – we understand the unpredictability of cash flows and provided there is an open, direct and honest interaction, we are able to extend the terms of the loans to prevent default.” Is Lamna the quick solution to avoiding bankruptcy and liquidation? “Lamna has a role to play in creating liquidity – to take advantage of a scenario. If the business is not profitable or is badly managed or run, Lamna is not a solution. If the imminent liquidation is due to a lack of cash flow that they will reverse given time or a particular event, then Lamna is definitely a solution.” What does the future hold for the company? “We intend to solidify ourselves as the credible liquidity provider for people with assets, but limited liquidity who require cash flow.”

HARVESTING WATER FROM THE SKIES He h a s be en gi ven t he nick n ame ‘Afr ic an R ainm aker ’ for his innovat ion in re c ycle d water te chnolog y. CE O of A ir water Group R AY DE V RIE S build s at mo spher ic water generator s and s ourc e s to bu sine s s e s.

Water scarcity is the most pressing resource issue of this century; yet this precious element is being depleted as many parts of the planet are experiencing severe droughts due to global warming and climate change. Ray de Vries discovered a way to absorb water from the air when he founded the Airwater Group, a company that manufactures atmospheric water generators to supply water to schools, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and other commercial operations that face closing down due to the water shortage. Born to Dutch parents and raised in Johannesburg, De Vries studied hotel management at the Hotel School in Braamfontein. After graduation, De Vries worked for the Southern Sun Hotel in Cape Town. He later moved to Umhlanga for greener pastures, where he became the Food and Beverage Manager at Cabana Beach Hotel. This was the period he describes as a build up to his career and where he subsequently developed the idea for his business. “I bought my own hotel when I was 26 years old. I struggled to keep up with the payments, but managed to hold out until we sold it and made a profit. I am a serial entrepreneur and had restaurants, bottle stores and a few other businesses. “In 1988, during the height of apartheid, I broke the law by accommodating a black person in my hotel, which was on the Comrades Marathon route. He had big dreams of becoming the first black man to win the Comrades Marathon and asked me to manage him and help him. “He placed second in 1989 in the marathon and after South Africa was allowed back into world sport, he won the New York City Marathon. That guest was Willie Mtolo. “My life changed drastically as I was suddenly in media and marketing, and ended up running large events, one of which was the Dusi Canoe Marathon. It was there that I stumbled on the idea for pure, sustainable drinking water, because I was trying to figure out how to get large amounts of drinking water to the event.



GO-TO-MOTIVATOR? “Tony Robbins, Warren Buffet and Richard Branson.” MORNING ROUTINE? “Wake up at 4:30am and spend 30 minutes on positive thoughts. I listen to a book every morning on Blinkist. I then close with gratitude thoughts of what and who I have in my life.”

“M Y DREAM IS TO CREATE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES AND MANUFACTURING FACILITIES THAT WILL CREATE JOBS FOR ORDINARY SOUTH AFRICANS.” “It really was a case of water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. We were using water tankers for hydrating the paddlers, but these were cumbersome, because of their size and the tough terrain. We also had no control over water quality or where the tankers had been used previously – and this got me thinking.” “After doing research for a couple of years, it was in 2006 that I found the answer to mankind’s biggest problem; atmospheric water,” says De Vries. With South Africa facing the worst drought in a hundred years and relief not coming soon, an invention of this kind is likely to garner applause. De Vries explains how the generators work and the creative process behind them: “Atmospheric water generation is harvesting the vapour in the air and cooling it to convert it from a gas to a liquid. It is then filtered and purified before being dispensed. “The Airwater-maker cools air down to dew point, causing condensation to occur. The condensation drops into an ultraviolet (UV) bin and then passes through a nine-point filtration process, as well as inline UV sterilisers. The resultant water is very soft and alkaline, making for a tasty and healthy drink. “The generator makes its own water, as well as purifies it. Other water purifiers need to source water from somewhere before it is filtered. “Atmospheric water generation is the only immediate solution that we have. Unfortunately, it has been left so late that it is only the people who can afford these machines that will have water. “We can take charge of our own water supply, as opposed to waiting for politicians to get their acts together. Politicians are looking for a macro-solution and this is not where the answer is. They should be subsidising these machines for schools, hospitals, community centres, homes etc. We make water where it is needed – not take water to where it is needed,” says De Vries. “Any other source of water requires transport and this is


SLEEP SCHEDULE? “I sleep between 3 and 5 hours a night usually in two equal parts. My best work is between 1am and 3am.” KEY TOOLS? “I reckon at the age of 57 I have about 23 more productive years left, which is 276 more months. I do not allow negativity near me as I don’t have the luxury of time. “My biggest tools are the things that keep my mind open. I go up Table Mountain three times a week for coffee. “I don’t have a car as I use that time to work and rub shoulders with authentic people – on the MyCiti buses. “Although I spend a lot of time with people I am a bit of an isolationist. I enjoy being on my own. I use dictation software to capture my thoughts.” COPING TACTIC? “Humour.” STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “DO IT NOW!”

where the expense comes in.” According to De Vries, there are a hundred million billion litres of water in the air and the solution to water shortages is right under our noses, and is 100% sustainable as the water goes back into the air. “Our first bottling plant will be supplying Cape Airwater in bottles to restaurants by mid-November. The pros are that they produce perfectly pure water; it is 100% sustainable and is made immediately. Desalination and other ways of purifying water will take months, even years, to solve our problems. “A single Airwater bottling plant can generate enough water from the air to fill up to 3 000 standard 500ml bottles per day. The plant is scalable upwards and machines can be added as the demand grows. “To put this into perspective, that is enough water to fill the needs of thirty to forty restaurants. The company supplies smaller machines that make enough water from the air to meet the tea, coffee, Sodastream and other needs of a restaurant or a commercial business. “Our company is experiencing a boom and our future looks terrific. My dream is to create business opportunities and manufacturing facilities that will create jobs for ordinary South Africans. Our sold out signs will be going up very soon as we have had a tremendous uptake and will be taking orders for delivery in a few weeks,” concludes De Vries. The Airwater machines are proudly made in South Africa by South Africans and for South Africans. Many entrepreneurs see the enormous business opportunities that the Airwatermaker brings and are keen to get involved in a profitable win-win situation. The more entrepreneurs (or “waterpreneurs” as De Vries calls them) that come forward, the more jobs that are created and the more people with drinking water. All thanks to this novel humidity harvester.

GREAT APPS COME FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS A wor ld w here you c an order food using an app w it hout interact ing w it h ot her people and t hen have it deli vered to your doorstep... T hat re alit y is made po s sible t hanks to DINE SH PAT EL, CE O of Order In.

Ordering a meal by calling your favourite restaurant can sometimes be awkward and stressful. Chances are you might be put on hold while ordering and straining to hear who is talking over the background noise of a busy restaurant. Founder and CEO of OrderIn Dinesh Patel took advantage of modern technology and went on to build an innovative way of ordering food. He simply took on the role of saying “can I take your order” and turned it into one of the leading food delivery apps. From the comfort of your own home, OrderIn shows you all the restaurants near you, and lets you order via the app. Within an average of 32 minutes, the food is delivered. Today, OrderIn has collaborated with over 1 200 restaurants, including all of South



Africa’s most popular and loved brands such as Nando’s, Col’Cacchio and Roco Mamas, as well as famous independents like Dog’s Bollocks and Monks. Born in Durban, Patel grew up in a household that valued education. After matriculating in 1999, he left for the US to pursue a career in golf. When that didn’t work out he shifted his focus to his studies. In 2004, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Science from Florida State University, majoring in Finance and Accounting. During his time in the States, he worked for three different companies. His first job after graduation was at Deloitte in Atlanta. He later moved to New York, where he formed part of a team that took Blackstone public in 2007. From there he joined Goldman Sachs on Wall Street. It was during this period that he came across, an innovative company that offers a virtual canteen service to corporate businesses, which later inspired him to embark on a business venture which saw the birth of OrderIn in South Africa. After a decade in the US, Patel felt ready to return to South Africa and settled down in Cape Town in 2012. He launched OrderIn later that year. Fast forward to 2017 and OrderIn currently employs 40 fulltime staff. To fulfil the commitment of going above and beyond to ensure that communities and lives are uplifted, OrderIn prides itself on being the only app in South Africa to guarantee that 100% of the delivery fee and tip goes to the driver. Even though the idea of ordering food from an app may have sounded crazy in South Africa in 2012, today ever more apps are being developed and entering the industry. To stay relevant and competitive is important; OrderIn sets itself apart from similar platforms by providing reasonable options and ensures that food prices on the app are the same as at the store. For a company that started in a garage with no budget to spend on fancy marketing campaigns, the brand has accomplished remarkable achievements since its inception. “We stay ahead of our competitors by understanding our customers, anticipating their needs and building what they don’t know they need yet,” Patel explains. The company has now built a network of more than 400 drivers and has since processed almost 1 million orders. All of this has been done without spending anything on marketing. Patel believes that South Africa’s food and beverage industry has a lot to offer with great quality options for both locals and tourists. As for the company’s future, according to Patel it’s only the start. “We are only at the beginning of our journey. It’s basically day one of food ordering in South Africa. For now, our focus remains on building the best and widest selection of restaurants nationally with the shortest delivery times and best pricing, while our corporate offering becomes a mainstream employee benefit alongside healthcare and pension.”



GO-TO-MOTIVATOR? “I have three people I rely on for motivation: (1) If I’m listening to content, then I love Tony Robbins, (2) If I want to speak to someone in person, then I have a dear friend Joe who I reach out to – he always has sage advice, and (3) Jeff Bezos once said in an interview he wanted to marry the kind of woman who could break him out of a Thai prison if needed. Well, I married that kind of woman. If I’m ever doubtful or down, she has an incredible way of lighting my way.” MORNING ROUTINE? “I wake up around 6am, stretch for a few minutes before getting in the shower, and spend some time meditating to clear my thoughts. Once this is done, I’m ready for the day. I like to Taxify to and from work so I can use this time productively to make calls and get a head start on my day.” SLEEP SCHEDULE? “I’m usually in bed by 11pm, but with a baby on the way this is about to go right out the window.” KEY TOOLS? “Pretty much everything on my smartphone, but specifically my calendar and diary. This helps me to make sure I’m always where I’m supposed to be, set reminders, and to keep notes of all my ideas.” COPING TACTIC? “I practice immense gratitude for everything that happens. According to Vedanta there are only two symptoms of enlightenment; the first is that you stop worrying - things don’t bother you anymore if you stop, as a result you become light-hearted and happy. The second is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences and synchronicities. This accelerates to the point where you experience miracles. The trick is, things can only stop bothering you when you are grateful for everything that happens to you, so I remind myself a lot that I’m one of the luckiest people alive to be born in this time, in this country, and that I have the opportunities that I have.” STRATEGY TO BEAT PROCRASTINATION? “It’s actually quite simple. Statistically, I have about 45 years to live, but only 30 years of work life left. Of those 30 years, I’ll spend 10 years sleeping, and another 10 years traveling, spending time with family and relaxing. So in reality, I only have 10 years of productive time to make my mark on the world. That’s a lot less than 45. I don’t need more motivation than that.”

Art credit teekay

THE LIMITS BEYOND THE SKY M & N Group of C omp anie s Par t ner and Avatar A genc y c o -founder Ve l i N g u b a ne share s t he mot i vat ion behind ho w he rem ain s product i ve and t he alignment bet w e en his dre am s and li fe’s pur po s e.



As a 12-year-old, Veli Ngubane had a knack for spotting business opportunities within his immediate environment. An athlete at heart – he decided to form a street soccer team that would challenge other streets at a match for money. Even as he grew older, that business instinct never left him but only intensified. At university, he realised that his peers enjoyed partying to de-stress from their studies and this led him to form a dorm room events company to organise these festivities at a fee. “I was accepted for a law degree at the University of Cape Town. I took an economics course which included the study of Game Theory. The course fascinated me so much that I changed my pure LLB Law degree to graduating with a Bachelor of Social Science in Politics, Economics and Law.” Tried and tested One of the most important and earliest business lessons for Ngubane was a tourism business he founded called Khensani Africa. Based in a rural area, Ngubane believes that his business model shared similarities with the hugely successful Airbnb online hospitality service. “What was fascinating was that you could book into a South African culture. If you wanted to book into a Zulu or Xhosa family, we would facilitate that and split profits with the host family,” he says. Intrigued by the idea of selling his start-up, Ngubane sold the company to a German investor for what he thought was a lot of money. “I guess you live and you learn,” he says. After launching numerous failed ventures, Ngubane’s passion for business never withered, but got stronger with each unsuccessful start-up. He spent time reviewing the lessons learnt during those experiences and got to understand that building a successful business is less about making money and more about building a solid service or product offering.


Ambition is key A school trip to one of the more affluent suburbs in Johannesburg triggered an interest in material success. That same evening, after sharing his experiences with a businessman he met on the trip, he was inspired to start a business. He recalls, “I wanted to emulate him by courageously pursuing my life’s purpose (owning a business) just like he did. I was lucky enough to have a family and mother that supported my crazy ambitions. I don’t think my ambitions have ever been realistic at any stage of my life.” Fortunately, Ngubane understands that a wild dream goes hand-in-hand with an obsessive work ethic. The marketing and advertising industry is synonymous with long working hours and constant deadlines. What does it take to build one of the fastest growing black-owned agencies? According to Avatar Agency’s co-founder “just being black is not enough; we need blackowned and managed agencies to be world class. “A lot of people see the final story and not the sacrifices that get you there. Entrepreneurship is about using the tools you have at your disposal to build a business. It is


an imperfect beauty where each victory gets you closer to the bigger picture.” Productivity and transformation Like many other trade industries in the country, the marketing and advertising industry is one of the sectors that is plagued by transformation issues with regards to open access for black-owned companies. Avatar Agency has made it its mission to face these challenges head-on and use every opportunity to let their work disrupt and change the dynamics of the spaces in which they operate. At its core, the agency aims to “connect the brand to the consumer”. The main differentiator is the entrepreneurial and insights-driven culture in the agency. “ We understand the market that we communicate to. “The major impact is on your family life and relationships. You miss out on some important experiences because of the pressures and demands of the business. It is not romantic at all; it is hard work.” Big victories and small wins Ngubane was not immune to some of the trappings that catch young entrepreneurs who have succeeded at discovering a working formula in business. He is not afraid to admit that at some point in his entrepreneurial endeavours he made a few bad financial decisions. Every entrepreneur’s end goal is to make money – there is no denying that! However, with Ngubane it took first-hand experience for him to understand that he could be involved in building something that is more meaningful than money: a self-confidence that is not based on an expensive lifestyle and ego-driven spending. “A lot of moderately successful entrepreneurs don’t get to build wealth because they get themselves in debt trying to show their peers that they have made it,” explains Ngubane. “I have learnt that one must define what success means by oneself, as there is a great danger with conforming to the societal definition,” he adds. Ngubane is currently focusing on growing M&N Group – the holding company of Avatar Agency. The latest addition to this list of companies is YGK (Young, Gifted and Killing It) an agency that will bridge the gap between the best freelance talent and innovative agencies.


IS THE SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER ROLE OBSOLETE? “Jack-of-all-trades, master of none” who came up with that? The only way to succeed in your career today is to be able and willing to do it all. By Tacita McEvoy

Future Now

and creative support when it comes to design and campaign strategy. Offering an organisation your services to tweet and reply to messages is no longer viable. Whether you’re a social media manager fighting for your role, or a tech savvy team member who wants to stand out from the crowd, there are a number of skills to master.

THE QUALIFICATION #SCHOOLOFLIFE It’s hard to find one course that will teach you all of the skills needed to succeed in a social media career. Firstly, it would take about 10 years to complete and secondly, everything that you studied during that time would quickly become obsolete; from the platforms to the software. The best way to learn is to throw yourself into the space and test the waters with platforms that allow you to go wild, with limited risk of causing a Donald Trump-scale “covfefe” mishap.

DESIGN It’s all hands on deck and gone with the “that’s not in my job description”. Organisations are seeing an increase in the demand for candidates who have a broad skillset. Social media savvy applicants are especially standing out across all departments – from HR, customer service, assistants, even CEO and director roles. It has become everyone’s responsibility to document the day-to-day happenings of a business in order to create brand awareness, monitor customer sentiment and, as a result, increase the bottom line. On the flipside of the coin, it has put more prssure on the social media manager not only to post content (as that has become everyone’s role) but to do more, with added emphasis on providing strategic direction


Undoubtedly one of the most infamous social media skills – graphic design. Many interviews have been cut short when the question pops up – can you use Photoshop? It seems crazy that you need to be a linguist and a creative director to get a junior social media position. Start small by experimenting with user-friendly software like Sketch, Over App and Canva – once you’ve got your creative juices flowing, start mastering the big three: Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator, which will push you to the top of the short list. Remember that a Facebook custom graphic can be a flyer, poster, business card and more – you’ll be indispensable in no time.

COPYWRITING Even with Voice-First technology on our doorstep, brands need something to say. You need to be able to capture an audience with a headline. The Mad Men ad agencies spent weeks developing one-liners for brands and now you have

THE HUB – YOUR WEBSITE The majority of your social media activity will be to directly or indirectly get users to visit your website. But what if your company’s site is a disaster? No matter how brilliant your social media marketing is, users will never converge on a sub-par website. Well then, why don’t you step in? WordPress is the best thing since Nutella. Now anyone that is a little tech savvy, with some creative flare, can create an eye-catching website. Get involved and start creating a few landing pages for your social campaigns, pick the brains of the development team and no one will be able to compete.


to write 30-40 posts per month that engage with your target audience. What can help? Read, read, read – your teacher wasn’t wrong, reading will make you smart. Not only will it increase your knowledge in your industry, but it will improve your communication and general spelling and grammar. Ensure you have solid peer-proofing systems in place.

One of the biggest mistakes the social media team makes is to work in silos. You need to understand how content, SEO and paid advertising work best hand in hand. Developing a strategic idea for all divisions to work from will create a snow-ball effect and go viral. Creating an integrated strategy with goals and key performance indicators will ensure a better chance of reporting a great return on investment (ROI). Because of the ‘Dark Social’ phenomenon, it is notoriously difficult to quantify the ROI of social, but with an integrated strategy all systems work together to meet targets. Social media objectives need to be aligned with the company’s overarching goals. Understanding the long-term vision of the business you are promoting is vital towards ensuring your efforts are directed correctly. Start crunching the numbers and set measurable targets for your campaigns.



If content is king, then video is the crown jewel when it comes to social content. We’re lucky to be in the era of iPhoneography where we are all film-makers documenting our lives. Facebook saw a 47% surge in ad revenue in the last quarter, which they owe to video. When creating video ads it’s important to capture the audience upfront. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg agrees that short videos have proved to work best, which is why Facebook is working directly with advertisers to create 6 second videos. Longer brand story videos also have a place on social media, but a tip is to ensure these videos have sub-titles. Users mainly watch videos on silent (due to being at work or in public) and watch up to 8 minute videos with only subtitles. Live videos are also key components to your video marketing mix.

As a company, it is important to understand the skills needed to manage your social media efficiently, but when it comes to resources it’s difficult to decide which route to follow; 1. Empower existing staff members, 2. Hire a social media agency or 3. Appoint a freelance consultant. Either way, there needs to be a champion that ties in all elements of your social media – from content to customer service. This needs to be a senior role, because too many #socialmediafails have been made due to junior staff members being put in charge – no offence, but addressing a public rant needs some PR strategy along with high-level business understanding. If you’re a thriving social media specialist, guru, manager, ninja and worried that your role might become redundant, stop right there! The only thing that might change is your title, because during this era where your role is vital to an organisation’s success, you are building yourself up as the key multi-media communicator. Who cares if social media disappears in the next 10 years? You’ll be the front-runner for whatever’s coming next.

MR/MRS TECH SAVVY Being the one responsible for social media means that your boss will assume you’re the guru when it comes to all things web and tech-related. In this case it’s more about being able to talk the talk instead of walking the walk. Get clued up on which technology your business uses or should use. Be able to hold your own in a conversation with the IT or development department. Your secret weapon here is being able to give a holistic overview of the company’s online presence. There’s an excellent saying about success; to excel in life you need to know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about one thing, then there will be nothing you can’t do.

Tacita McEvoy is the founder of the Cape Town–based digital marketing agency Social Media Now, and a partner in the accelerator/incubator Idea Camp.



I S YO U R BUSINESS R E A DY F O R CLOUD ERP I M P L E M E N TAT I O N ? Liesbeth Botha, Strategic Digital Transformation Leader for PwC Africa, poses the question.

You might have been there, or you’re going there once your business matures, but at some point chances are your company will have to go through the digital transformation journey that is a Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation. Brace yourself for the rollercoaster of getting and keeping leadership aligned, making sure you get your data cleaned up and your data governance sorted out, and be prepared to change and reorganise many aspects of your organisation.

Gone are the days of “straightforward” automation as was the first generation of ERP implementations. In the previous era, enterprise followed a somewhat linear process and project methodology. The “as is” business processes were documented in a business requirements phase, then after choosing a product and an implementation team, configuration started, followed by some development to fill the gaps, integrate, test, train and go live. This was no small feat, but at least the back-office (finance or human capital) organisation remained somewhat stable. Leadership was mostly concerned about project timelines and the budget implications of overruns. With Cloud technology, things have shifted and, in fact, changed completely. Instead of a linear process, it’s iterative and it starts somewhere that feels like the middle. The cloudnative mobile-first products are already configured in a vanilla version for a particular industry or business model. Choosing the right product is not based on the best fit to your current business processes, but rather on strategic considerations about how you want to change your business to be future-proof or future-ready. This is either a very difficult conversation to have with the C-suite and the board, unless they understand it already, in which case the initial discussion might be trivial, but be assured it will get more complicated as the journey progresses and the implications hit home. Once a choice is made about the product and the implementation team, the next set of difficult discussions ensue - the conversation


about changing the roles of the backoffice organisation and also how it impacts the roles of the rest of the business, notably the front office. The transactions on mobile-first, cloud-native business solutions are inherently intuitive to the digitallyenabled workforce, as are the configuration and navigation of reports and analytics. So, what really happens is that the back-office organisation’s roles become less transactional, less administrative, and more analytical and strategic. Part of this administrative activity now also shifts to the front-office business, as they enter data and information “onthe-go”. When they hear about this for the first time, they balk at “doing more admin”, but when it happens, they don’t feel that much pain, because it’s not cumbersome, as these solutions have really been “app-ified”. These trends result in two types of savings and efficiencies for the company: firstly, less time is spent by the front-office staff to submit data and information to the back office, checking the integrity of the data in reports, and chasing up the backoffice, and secondly, a reduction of head-count of administrative backoffice staff, because front-office staff do more of this “admin” on-the-go


and directly into the app. Think, for example, of the apps for claiming and approving expenses: scan on your phone, submit; approver gets message, approves on phone; reports are updated in real-time and immediately available to both parties. Another example is for team leaders who can see their team members’ information on their mobile devices - from cost to company, benefits, performance, leave taken, timesheets, and more. This allows them to make decisions and act on this information immediately, without asking the back-office human resources function to extract a report, specifying the requirements, waiting for the report, checking the integrity of the data, etc. Remember the transition from banking in a branch, to internet, to mobile? We’re in the mobile phase with Customer Relationship-, Finance-, Project- and Human Resource Management solutions. Granted, you still have to do some things on the laptop, just as you still have to go to a branch for some banking activities, but once everything is setup, it’s mostly mobile. The challenge for the C-suite to realise this vision is to make the decision to start the journey without having a clear understanding of the process, how much change is required and what kind of resources and budget will be required to get there - it all happens in an agile manner. They’ve got to keep believing in the vision, and have the management will to push through on the changes. At every step of the way, they have to bring, sometimes drag, sometimes guide, the whole organisation with them. In some cases, pockets of the company push them ahead, and they struggle to keep up. All of the above is what is known as “leadership alignment” in change management theory. Who orchestrates all of this in a company? There is a lot of debate about whether it should or must be the CEO, or the COO, or whether it is a Director of Strategic Projects, or a Digital Transformation Leader, or the CFO or Human Resource Director, or an Innovation Office. It doesn’t matter which one, really, it must just be that person who has the vision, knows what to do, and is so passionate about change that he or she leads the way without faltering, and who can muster the support of at least the critical mass of the leadership on all levels. One can’t start this journey of Cloud ERP implementation challenges without pristine legacy data. The challenge with data is, however, that it was not always thought of as valuable, let alone that it can be monetised, and data governance is a relatively new concept. Even if the concept might not be new to many organisations, proper data policy and governance (processes and controls) have probably not been formally implemented. The result is that data clean-up, conversion and upload onto the new Cloud platform becomes a lengthy and costly exercise, while the company tries to catch up on the implementation of proper data governance. Large scale enterprise change will always be riddled with challenges, but the rewards can be significant post deployment if boards understand and embrace a change realisation programme. A programme targeted at building value from the newly deployed cloud solution, changing behaviours and empowering digital leaders who have started working in a new way.


WAR OF THE AI Tech giants are battling for supremacy “With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.”


Founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX



16014 7

9 772313 330006






No mat ter what you call it— machine learning, deep learning, or cognitive computing—AI is the biggest oppor tunit y in business since mobile, for tech giants and upstar ts alike. It’s also the most confusing. We’re here to help. By Harry McCracken Ill u s t ra t i o n s b y D ani e l Z e n d e r



I T IS MORE THAN A M AG A ZINE, I T'S A MOV EMEN T The Digital version of Fast Company South Africa is now available on Apple iPad and Android tablets

Fast Bytes Fast Company SA takes a look at the innovative new ideas, services, research and news currently making waves in South Africa and abroad

Google and Levi’s Jacquard jacket Google and Levi’s new Jacquard jacket has finally launched. The collaboration between the two power houses – in technology and fashion respectively – integrates capacitive threads with a copper core into the actual manufacturing process of a denim jacket, and then uses a tiny Bluetooth dongle that attaches to a button to communicate with your phone. By swiping or tapping the fabric on the left cuff, you can control your smartphone; from playing your favourite tunes to answering phone calls. The core idea for the jacket is simple enough, but complicated to execute: make fabric touch-sensitive, like the screen on your phone. It’s targeted mainly at cyclists, but will also be loved by those who just really like jean jackets.

Falcon 9 rocket

Four Grain whiskey

The 14th Falcon 9 rocket of 2017 was successfully released by SpaceX. Launching from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, 10 iridium satellites were carried by the rocket to orbit. This was the third mission for Iridium that SpaceX has conducted, with more planned to complete the communications provider’s Iridium NEXT Satellite Network. The mission’s primary goal was to deploy SpaceX clients’ satellites. Just an hour after the launch SpaceX confirmed that it had successfully deployed all of the Iridium NEXT satellites as planned, into their desired target orbits.

“Rolling Standard represents an exciting step towards what’s next for our company,” said Patrick Garcia, Master Distiller and Co-Founder of Union Horse Distilling Company. The company announced the release of its Rolling Standard Midwestern Four Grain whiskey in early October 2017. It’s the first in the company’s “Distiller Series”, a collection of the experimental and artistic works of Union Horse’s distillers. Having received inspiration from the pioneering spirit of America’s railways, Rolling Standard is a complex and bold whiskey handcrafted from barley, wheat, corn and rye. Beautifully aged and suitable for any occasion, the whiskey effortlessly delivers robust notes of vanilla, maple, almond and dark fruit with a hint of cinnamon.

Nintendo Switch After the 2012 release of Nintendo’s Wii U, which didn’t resonate with audiences like the wildly successful Wii, the company had a tough task ahead of them. The release of the new Nintendo Switch trailer seemed to make the arrival of the gaming system a much-anticipated event. The Switch has a 6.2 inch display and custom graphics chip by NVIDIA. The system delivers a home console experience on the go. It’s more than just a tablet with a little extra horsepower; the Switch also includes two joy-cons, which give the player the same feeling of a traditional controller, while adding Nintendo’s staple motion control and even advanced haptic feedback for new gaming experiences. 76   FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A NOVEMBER 2017

Fast Bytes

Google’s Clip The level of advanced technology today is mind-blowing and seems to improve every day. Google’s latest camera does its artificial intelligence (AI) handiwork within the camera itself. Thanks to a new AI-processing chip, the camera is an impressive technological feat and comes with a few handy bonuses. It doesn’t need an internet connection to operate, and what you want to reveal to the internet is your choice alone. It’s a distinct and personal sort of security. You don’t have to take Google’s word for it; the infrastructure is secure and you can be sure that data will not leave your home, office, school etc.

Teleoperating robots with virtual reality Not all industries have the luxury of telecommuting. To operate machinery in many manufacturing jobs requires physical presence by humans. But what if that could all change and these jobs could be done remotely? Well, wait no more, MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) presented a virtual reality system that lets you teleoperate a robot using an Oculus Rift headset. The system implants the user in a VR control room with multiple sensor displays, making it feel like they’re inside the robot’s head. Users can match their movements to the robot’s by using hand-controllers.

Motiv’s fitness tracking ring Motiv’s creators have introduced a new fitness wearable ring that, regardless of its size, is able to track all fitness functions normally tracked by a full wrist-worn wearable. The ring monitors your sleep and fitness, including steps, calories and distance. Incredibly, the ring also features an optical heartrate sensor, all while boasting a battery life of three to five days on a single charge. The titaniumencased ring comes in seven different sizes and is available in either grey or rose gold. It’s sold with an LED band for charging and syncing your notifications.

Snapchat’s ‘context card’ Snapchat introduced “context card”, a new feature that allows users to book an Uber ride or reserve a seat at their favourite restaurant without leaving the messaging app. The feature is designed to get users logged in for longer on the app by providing a contextual location-based search, potentially helping the company to get more advertising. The app is popular among young people for applying filters to their pictures. The company said in a blog post that the new cards allow users viewing stories to swipe up and get relevant information about a business, such as reviews, directions or contact information. NOVEMBER 2017  FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A   77

Fast Events Local conferences, talks and meetups we think are worth attending

International Apparel, Textile & Footwear Trade Event

The Fact Foundry Annual Conference

Date: 21 - 23 November 2017 Time: 09:00 - 16:00 (Tuesday & Wednesday); 09:00 - 15:00 (Thursday) Location: Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) Cost of tickets: Free entry

Date: 23 November 2017 Time: 08:00 - 16:00 Location: Accolades Boutique Hotel, Midrand Cost of tickets: R1 750

150 clothing, textile, footwear and fashion accessory manufacturers, suppliers and service providers from ten countries will be displaying their latest ranges and products to chain stores, independent retailers, mini-chains, boutiques, importers, agents, wholesalers and other important industry decision makers.

Knowledge Resources Fintech Conference 2017 Date: 22 & 23 November 2017 Time: Contact Busie Mjimba on or +27 11 706 6009 Location: Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, Sandton Cost of tickets: R7 500 excl. VAT (includes refreshments, lunch, parking and conference material) As the world of financial technology (fintech) continues to boom on both domestic and international soil, keeping up with the steady influx of innovation and disruptive thought leadership is a challenge. As one of the first gatherings on this topic on the continent, the conference aims to bring together innovators, investors and leaders in the disruptive industry, including those dedicated to banking, investment platforms, insurance, big data, retail, mobile, marketing and payments.


Education has, in many respects, been hailed as the best solution to reduce poverty and ensure economic growth and prosperity in South Africa. The challenges faced by the South African education system are well-documented and regularly read as depressing headlines in the media. However, despite these challenges South Africa is also a country of innovation and hope. The Fact Foundry Annual Conference is an opportunity to meet some of the revolutionaries advocating new solutions for our youth to gain access to quality education.

How to Mitigate and Safeguard Your Company Against Reputation Risk Date: 23 - 24 November 2017 Time: 08:30 - 16:30 Location: Apollo Conferencing Hotel, Randburg, Johannesburg Cost of tickets: R7 950 exc. VAT per delegate. R6 350 exc. VAT per delegate for NGO’s and associations. R6 750 exc. VAT for three delegates or more from the same business unit. CEOs, directors, executives, departmental heads and all personnel who are accountable for managing risk and evaluating potential harm to an organisation’s reputation are invited to this master class. The event aims to equip delegates with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to protect and defend their organisation’s most valuable asset; its reputation.

Fast Events

Stephen Clarke Seminar Date: 24 - 26 November 2017 Time: 07:30 - 17:30 Location: Manor D’Or, Johannesburg Cost of tickets: R570 The Stephen Clarke Seminar presents a unique learning opportunity for judges, coaches, riders and dressage enthusiasts. Callaho Warmblood Sport Horses has joined the Stephen Clarke family as a major sponsor of this event. Attendees will enjoy live horse performances. Vybrant Dressage Club members, National Judges Judy Vertue and Caroline Potts, who organised Stephen’s 2016 Seminar, will again organise this year’s event.

Three-Day Design Thinking and the Circular Economy Date: 27 - 29 November 2017 Time: 08:00 - 17:00 Location: The Impact Hub, Rosebank, Johannesburg Cost of tickets: R12 995 until 14 November 2017, late ticket price R13 995 (includes lunch, snacks and refreshments) The three-day programme is designed to guide participants in applying design-thinking to help integrate social, environmental and economic practice into a business solution. Participants will be divided into smaller teams and get an opportunity to work on real cases, where they’ll ultimately be informed on how to use Design Thinking and Circular Economy tools to produce innovative solutions.

Country Rally 2017

Spier’s ‘Comedy in the Vine’

Date: 25 November 2017 Time: 14:00 Location: Wild Clover Farm, R304, Stellenbosch Cost of tickets: R250

Date: 2 - 3 December 2017 Time: 18:00 - 04:00 Location: Spier Wine Farm, R310, Stellenbosch Cost of tickets: From R450

Country Rally brings yet another fun day full of festivity. A day filled with country music, live bands, line dancing and a mechanical bull. Paying tribute to the good old country ways, famous songs by legendary Barbara Ray and Lance James will be played on the night. For the whole family, entertainment includes pony rides, tractor rides, a petting zoo, candy floss and live music.

The Comedy in the Vine series will kick off at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch at the start of December. Ensuring that the audience has a good laugh will be the hilarious Schalk Bezuidenhout and other top South African comedians. The series will run until February 2018. Finish off the year with laughter, superb wine and a great summer picnic on the grass, under the stars.



Nad i a Hea r n

GET BRANDED In today’s vast and ever-changing marketplace, it has become vital to connect any business with its brand, or brand story. Brands that define clarity on their purpose financially outperform others that don’t.

Not only do businesses compete with innovative trends amongst their industry peers, and stay abreast with disruptive technologies that may provide them with leading USPs (unique selling points), but they also contest with consumers’ low confidence and high budgetary caution. The answer: define the brand purpose of the business an ownable point of view which delivers genuine value to consumers. It is also often referred to as the brand story. In short, it is the intention of the business as envisioned by its founders. It is not enough just to make a brandpromise of low prices, good products or services - it is no longer what separates one brand from another, it is through having a defining brand purpose. As 2017 draws to a close, this may be the best time to consider reviewing how successful the brand positioning strategy defines the brand as “ownable” - what is the actionable impact of the brand and how does it influence the lives of its target market? It resides at the juncture of what the brand offers the world, and its intended target customer’s deepest cares and desires. Why is it important to businesses? It is proven that “me too” companies struggle and fail vs. businesses that can connect and engage their target customer with their brand story. Engagement is the new gold currency in branding. This is simply because a brand is the relationship the target market or public has with the brand, including their thoughts and feelings (also often referred to as perception). Their relationship with the brand is what will develop into brand loyalty and later brand insistence, the sweet spot any brand would like to be in. The intention of the brand is the key. Think of Apple or Nike who sell a lifestyle and not a product. Their customers insist on their products, and they have bought into the brand intention (or story). There are two foundational questions that should be posed to establish the purpose statement. Firstly, what is the brand’s ultimate reason for being? And then, if the


“The key is to work on an internal communications strategy that engages employees to understand their reason for being, and then the reason for being at work.”

brand had to disappear tomorrow, what gap would there be? Working on the purpose statement will support aligning the brand with its brand purpose. A company whose employees can answer the question, “Why are we here?” will also be the brand that makes stronger connections with consumers in search of solutions to life’s new challenges. The importance of building a brand with a purpose, not simply a promise, is also critical to help employees, associates, and in fact, all stakeholders understand why “they are here”. The key is to work on an internal communications strategy that engages employees to understand their reason for being, and then the reason for being at work. It needs to clarify their roles and signify their intrinsic value to the organisation. Get the in-house in order, as this is where true brand reputation is born. Looking at the external brand communication strategy, consider we live in a content-saturated landscape. People don’t have time, they are over stimulated with content from all angles and the window is less than eight seconds to capture and engage them. With this in mind, people care only about the “why”. Why must they trust, try, engage, care, want and share with your brand? Forget about positioning brands around the benefits and “what” it is; focus on this approach, the core is always the “why” – the very reason for the business and brand’s existence. Ensure the “why” is communicated first in the brand message, so that it can resonate with the intended audience. Secondly, unpack the “how” it does what it does – this is what makes the brand different (also often referred to as the business blueprint). Other tactics of thinking is to highlight the pain or problem, and connect how the brand offers an answer or solution. Now that the audience can make an emotional connection with why it matters to them, their lives, family, friends or their business, they will be engaged and listen to what exactly it is that will solve, impact or improve themselves or their business.

Nadia Hearn is a top brand coach for South Africa’s small business sector and radio talk show host of #onTheFLIPSIDE on 2oceansvibe Radio. Hearn holds an internationally accredited Public Relations Management Diploma from IAC and is an accredited Charted Public Relations Practitioner (CPRP). She has gained over 15 years’ experience in consumer, hospitality, technology and corporate communications, as well as having obtained qualifications in Business Studies and Marketing. She is also the founder of Get Published, a PR consultancy.

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Fast Company SA November 2017 - issue 31  
Fast Company SA November 2017 - issue 31