Meet 2016â€™s most creative people in business R35.00
JUNE 2016 FASTCOMPANY.CO.ZA
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THE WORLD’S MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE IN BUSINESS 2016 + SA’S TOP 30 Meet this year’s most inspiring leaders in technology, media, entertainment, marketing, finance, science, art and design, and more Begins on page 26
Funny business SA designer Porky Hefer says he strives to produce work that elicits a smile and sticks in one’s mind. (page 38)
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S O U T H AF RICAN
HI GHL I GHT S
28 Andrew Watkins-Ball Watkins-Ball’s Jumo provides financial products to small businesses and the unbanked on their mobile phones
34 Charles Savage
The CEO of Purple Group is enabling the average South African to invest money
35 Davis Cook
As the CEO of RIIS, Cook identifies innovation in the not-so-obvious places
36 Julian and Trevyn McGowan
Source and Southern Guild have been taking Africa’s burgeoning design scene to the world
IN TERNAT I ONAL HIG HLIG H T S
54 Valentino’s Visionaries
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli transformed the storied fashion house into a R15-billion juggernaut BY JEFF CHU
56 Super Social Media Stars
How Imgur, Giphy and Snapchat are creating and curating the most clickable content on the Internet
62 Valuing Human Capital
38 Porky Hefer
Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Kate Roberts apply the VC model to philanthropy BY JESSICA HULLINGER
40 Ryan McFadyen & Jason Stewart
Activist and talk-show host Zainab Salbi invites viewers to confront taboo topics throughout the Middle East BY AMY FARLEY
Designer and founder of Animal Farm, Hefer’s art is an expression of nature
HaveYouHeard Marketing is rewriting the concept of word-of-mouth marketing
42 Mokena Makeka
Makeka Design Lab uses design to bring about societal transformation for the betterment of people’s lives
44 Simon Spurr
The co-founder of 30 Day Health has helped create online healthcare tools that close the gap between patients and doctors
46 Raphael Smith, Heidi Wilson & Shuaib Omar BMEC Technologies’s g-tag is tackling concussion head-on
51 Grant Rushmere & Richard Bowsher
BOS Brands is giving the beverage industry a South African flavour with its rooibos tea products
74 Voice of Change
76 Unicorn YouTuber
Comedian Lilly Singh’s videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times BY NICOLE LAPORTE
78 Gene Editor
Katrine Bosley is positioning Editas Medicine to be the first biotech company to test CRISPR on humans BY ADAM BLUESTEIN
80 Driving Didi Chuxing Jean Liu is expanding the Chinese ride-sharing company’s offerings and keeping Uber at bay BY RICK TETZELI
Cut to the chase If Editas’s treatment for Leber congenital amaurosis works, it could herald one of history’s biggest medical breakthroughs. (page 78)
JUNE 2016 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A 3
14 Fitbit At Work
How fitness trackers are making inroads into employee wellness programmes BY CHRISTINA FARR
20 We Don’t Need Banks
Why current fintech startups have traditional financial institutions running scared BY TOM JACKSON
REG U L ARS
08 From the Editor 10 The Recommender 18 Horn of Africa
Olivia Knox hires skilled Ugandan artisans to turn Ankole cow horns into striking products BY DIANA BUDDS
89 The Great Innovation Frontier If we are to develop great innovators, they have to be led by ethical leaders BY WALTER BAETS
90 Fast Events 92 Trend Forecast
Question absolutely everything about what happens in your organisation BY DAVE NEMETH
All in a day’s work Is the new requirement to climbing the corporate ladder that you count all the steps? (page 14) 4 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A JUNE 2016
PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Robbie Stammers
CHIEF SUB-EDITOR Tania Griffin
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ADVERTISING SALES EXECUTIVE
By Digital Publishing
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EDITOR Evans Manyonga
On The Dot
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From the Editor
Creativity is key I was invited recently as a panel judge for the #YouthStartCT Entrepreneurial Challenge, and I duly accepted. The competition serves as an accelerator programme for youth aged 18 to 35 involved in startups, and contributes to business skills development, innovation and growth of entrepreneurs in Cape Town.
The #YouthStartCT Challenge is organised by the Seed Academy (whose executive director Lara Rosmarin has been featured twice as a Most Creative Person in Business in SA) and is partnered by the City of Cape Town’s youth development programmes that aim to build future responsible leaders who will make a meaningful contribution to society. My experience as a judge was both eye-opening and, frankly, immersive. The innovative business ideas that the young people of Cape Town presented blew me away. Among these were online mobile beauty salons, low-cost Wi-Fi for underprivileged areas enhanced by nanotechnology, and disruptive online platforms for various businesses. These ranged from plumbing services, expert coding available at the touch of a button, to realtime tutoring for any struggling students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics related careers. What did I take away from all this? Among the many things I learnt and realised on the day, these two main aspects stood out: A. Disruption, innovation and creativity are not only relevant in the present but will become a way of life in the near future. No industry or sector will be left behind. The young generation looks at everything and wonders how they can make the experience easier, more functional and cheaper. Uber and Airbnb are just the beginning.
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Bright ideas = Bright future Disruption, innovation and creativity are not only relevant in the present but will become a way of life.
B. It is imperative for any organisation, big or small, to have individuals dedicated to bringing more creative elements to the functional aspects of the company. The future of business won’t be dictated by numbers and orthodox processes, but by creativity and imagination. As we present our pick of the Most Creative People in Business in South Africa and the world, we urge you to think outside the box and ensure creativity becomes more than a mere word in your lexicon: Let it be a lifestyle and the Holy Grail of reference for everything you do. Congratulations to our country’s most creative entrepreneurs for 2016. We are proud to feature you alongside your international counterparts, and will continue tracking your progress going forward.
Evans Manyonga firstname.lastname@example.org @Nyasha1e
PS: A massive thanks to our team who burnt the midnight oil for this power edition! From our advisory editorial team for their suggestions on SA’s Most Creative People in Business, to our ‘engine room’ toiling alongside me: our publisher Robbie Stammers, for his invaluable guidance and facilitation; art director Stacey Storbeck Nel, for the most incredible cover design à la Andy Warhol—the hours she spent painstakingly crafting the collage have been worth it; and thanks to our wordsmith Tania Griffin, who had to revise more copy than one can imagine to make this issue a great read.
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The recommender What are you loving this month?
Leisure Theresa Szejwallo MD, Trafalgar
Galápagos Islands: I’ve travelled to
more than 60 countries, but my all-time special moments were spent on the Galápagos Islands. We kayaked in the seas among hammerhead
Business Nairobi: There’s something in the air in this country; an energy and entrepreneurial spirit that’s turning the city into the fintech hub of East Africa. The name Silicon Savannah is being bandied about. Mobile money service m-Pesa provided the vanguard, now it’s followed by BitPesa, a bitcoin trading and payments platform; and Musoni, a mobile microfinance service. Every visit leaves me inspired and invigorated—and, I admit, a bit in awe. 10 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A JUNE 2016
sharks; it was exhilarating to say the least. I love the outdoors, nature and beautiful surroundings, and prefer holidays that take me away from the big city. I like to be as isolated as possible.
Digital customer strategist Nedbank Insurance
FAVOURITE CLOTHING BRAND Preston Moodley Founder and MD Blackfly Productions
Shanil Mangaroo Head of marketing & communication Blue Bulls Company
PUMA: My latest love affair is with PUMA and its exciting new designer concepts—awesome casual wear, and taking it up a serious notch with its sporting gear. As a middleaged wannabe athlete, donning a pair of PUMA evoSPEEDs assists in rolling back the years... FAVOURITE BOOK
Favourite accessory MATBLAC wallet: I recently discovered MATBLAC, a Cape Town-based luxury leather accessories company. It’s clear this brand is built on quality, attention to detail and a passion for
leather. From the careful stitching to the visual stature and durability of the product, every last detail has been carefully considered and perfected. Bandile “Dr Bone” Maphalala
Andrea Jacklin Magni
Director, Jacklin Enterprises
FAVOURITE COCKTAIL (AND WHERE TO FIND THE BEST) Margarita: I’m always looking out for the best
margarita in town (frozen or shaken), and by far the widest range of tequila and best classic margarita can be found at The Landmark in Bryanston. Perron in Illovo serves the delicious Femme Fatale margarita, with a hint of crushed basil. Surprise best margarita is the pomegranate version by Piza-e-Vino in Melrose Arch.
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela : I wasn’t born yet during the time of Madiba’s struggle, so I wanted to know more about him as a person, his life in prison, and how he and his comrades went about liberating SA. He suffered so much, but still forgave his oppressors. This book has shaped me so much, and I am who I am today because of it.
JUNE 2016 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A 11
Digital account manager Flume Communications
Julien Verspieren Founder, Work & Co, Connector
Wunderlist: This is not just another to-do–list
app—it’s a collaborative tool. You create tasks or lists that you can share with your team or assign to a team member. You can add comments on tasks, set notifications or reminders, and know
when they’re done. Because it’s fully integrated, it’s easy to add a task from the web, any email or Slack. It’s very easy to use, has a great design and works on any platform to help you “keep your life in sync”.
‘Big match temperament’ is the ability of a team or individual to step up under immense pressure. Nike has its own BMT. B is for ‘Basic’: Instal, read the simple info, and hit the large red button that says “Begin run”. M is for ‘Motivational’: Unlock multiple badges by running more often, while a tiny feed indicates who, among you and your friends, has run further in a month. T is for ‘Tracking’: The app tracks your time, distance and pace.
Doug Crawford Manager: Service Delivery, Entelect
Brand manager, Uniworld
Working in the travel industry, I often need to get to OR Tambo or arrange for pickups—this app is just the ticket! It gives you everything you need to know: from finding your nearest station or bus stop, to viewing the timetables to plan your day. You can also calculate your estimated trip cost, including the parking and bus fare.
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If you’re a list maniac like me, and shun the idea of good ol’ pen and paper, then OmniFocus takes the top spot in any hard-core app tool chest. It’ll only suit Apple fanboys (and gals) and can be daunting to get started, but if you have a productivity system in play that works for you, OmniFocus can handle it. It’s not cheap at R779.99 per platform, but forking out for desktop and mobile versions is worth it if you’re actively using both.
N E X T
Fitbit at work As fitness trackers make inroads into employee wellness programmes, is the new requirement to climbing the corporate ladder that you count all the steps? BY CHRISTINA FARR
Illustrations by Peter Oumanski
Most mornings, Brett Broviak rises at 04:30 for a walk around a nearby track before work. The winters in his native Indiana are long and cold, but Broviak trudges on. Occasionally, he steals a glance at his Fitbit to check his progress toward his daily goal: 20 000 steps, or about 16 kilometres. It wasn’t always that way. In 2014, Broviak’s cholesterol and blood sugar levels were sky-high. After years of unhealthy habits, his weight had ballooned to 115 kilogrammes. Like many Americans, he regularly indulged in fast food and drove almost everywhere, including to the
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Indiana University Health Centre where he worked as a respiratory therapy manager. “I was borderline diabetic,” he says. “I knew I had to make some changes.” Broviak is now the poster child for his employer’s corporate wellness programme. When the university’s health centre introduced a weight-loss challenge in 2014 with an option to buy a discounted Fitbit, Broviak enthusiastically signed on. In a single month, he topped 1 million steps and eventually shed 14kg and lowered his cholesterol to normal levels, after also changing his diet.
Broviak is not alone in his health kick. Employers across the US are handing out activity trackers by the thousands and creating corporate wellness challenges to motivate employees to adopt healthier—and more productive—lifestyles. “The accumulated losses to South Africa’s GDP [gross domestic product] from strokes, heart disease and diabetes between 2006 and 2015 are estimated to cost $1.88 billion [R29 billion],” says Wits University Public Health professor, Karen Hofman. “Obese workers cost their employers 50% more in paid time off than nonobese colleagues.”
“At the time, I found it strange,” says CEO James Park. ”Why would these businesses want a Fitbit?” Although Fitbit—which debuted on the public markets in 2015 at a valuation of more than $4 billion (R61.8 billion)— has made its name in consumer tech, in the last couple of years its once-modest enterprise division has blossomed into a lucrative business. Its namebrand customers include BP, Bank of America, IBM, Kimberly-Clark and Time Warner. In September, the retail giant Target announced
IN A HE A R T B E AT Fitbit can track more than just how much you walk each day (which is why it’s crucial that employee privacy is protected). Just how much? We asked an expert.
Can my Fitbit tell if . . .
Perhaps. According to Ethan Weiss, cardiologist at UC San Francisco, many physiological changes occur during pregnancy, including an elevated heart rate and temperature. Some may appear as early as the first trimester.
I’M NERVOUS IN A MEETING?
Heart rate is a useful, albeit not totally reliable, indicator of stress and anxiety. Although your heart may feel like it’s racing during that high-profile presentation, it may not be as dramatic as you think.
I’M ONLY PRETENDING TO BE SICK?
Yes and no. Fitbit devices don’t have diagnostic abilities, but their trend data can suggest if something is up. When you’re sick, your resting heart rate may rise, and you often require more sleep.
I’M TRYING TO HIDE AN OFFICE CRUSH?
I’M RECOVERING FROM A WILD NIGHT?
Unlikely, says Weiss—unless your heart really does skip a beat every time your object of interest walks by your desk. Otherwise, your secret is safe.
Fitbits can tell how much sleep you got (and how fitful it was), and may spot an elevated heart rate the next morning as you deal with a hangover and dehydration.
it would offer 335 000 Fitbit Zip trackers to its US employees. Barclays followed a month later, offering subsidised devices to 75 000 employees. “Growth has been explosive,” says Fitbit CEO James Park. “We see the two sides of the business as symbiotic.” Today, less than 10% of the company’s revenues are drawn from enterprise. That’s still a small fraction of its overall business (Fitbit shipped 21 million devices in 2015), but the market potential is huge. A study from ABI Research predicts that by 2018 more than 13 million trackers will be incorporated into corporate wellness plans. And Fitbit is positioning itself as the go-to device for employers. Modernising the traditional corporate wellness programme wasn’t in Fitbit’s initial business plan. But shortly after Park and his co-founder Eric Friedman debuted their first activity tracker in 2009, they received a flood of messages from human resources departments. “At the time, I found it strange,” Park says. “Why would these businesses want to buy a Fitbit?” He quickly saw the opportunity, though. He handed the reins over to Amy McDonough, an early business-development hire, and tasked her with figuring out how to sell their devices to employers in bulk. McDonough says she heard from plenty of companies that were struggling to enrol even 20% of their workforce in wellness programmes. She observed that while employees were sporting the latest consumerhealth gadgets around the office, including Fitbits, their HR teams were expecting them to cast these aside in favour of a corporateissued activity tracker: “Can you imagine asking an engineer to
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wear a janky old pedometer and write down their steps?” Today, McDonough heads up a wellness division that includes a slew of tools for employers, including webinars, dedicated service support and dashboards where benefits managers can monitor how employees are performing. These programmes are about more than just getting employees to walk. According to Park, they are aiding in job safety by helping workers track sleep and activity levels, as well as improving office culture by getting employees to meet their fitness goals together. (Fitbit excels at fostering this kind of community engagement.) In September, Fitbit added compliancy with the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to its arsenal, to assuage employers’
“It’s detrimental to our core business if employees have concerns about what’s being done with their data.” fears about the privacy and security of employees’ health information. That’s a big step for Fitbit, which can now court entities that are covered by HIPAA, such as health plans and some self-insured employers. The key to McDonough’s corporate sales pitch lies in the data that Fitbit’s research team is accumulating to demonstrate the long-term results of wearing a tracker—both in increased engagement in wellness programmes and improved health outcomes. Retention is considered Fitbit’s Achilles’ heel; research firms have found consumers lose
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interest in activity trackers within six months. Much of Fitbit’s data has not been released, but its business customers are starting to share their results. IBM, which gave out Fitbits to 40 000 employees over two years, found that 96% of them routinely logged their health data including eating habits. According to Barbara Brickmeier, IBM’s VP of benefits, employees who participated in the challenge reached an average of 8 800 steps per day, more than double the average of people who don’t wear pedometers. Brickmeier says she was floored to discover that 63% of IBM employees continued to wear their Fitbit months after the challenge wrapped up. “We know sometimes there’s a ‘wow factor’ about getting something new, and then interest wanes,” she says. “But employees were active and eager.” Some employers are going a step beyond health and wellness to use trackers to bring down medical aid costs. Park cites Fitbit’s recent programme with the San Francisco–based cloudservices startup, Appirio, which bought fitness trackers for about 400 workers. Using data from the wearables, Appirio persuaded its insurer, Anthem, to shave about 6%, or $280 000 (R4.3 million), from its annual health bill. In the coming years, Park expects more employers will leverage data from their employees’ Fitbits to negotiate with health insurers. “We’re finally seeing traction with payers,” he says. “Going forward, we want to integrate more into the health system.” Some of the tactics used by corporate wellness programmes have raised concerns with health experts, who fear that employers will only further alienate employees who have unhealthful habits or chronic ailments like diabetes. LuAnn Heinen, from the non-profit National Business Group on Health, says some employers are still struggling to engage the very people they most
S T E P P ING UP How four companies have used Fitbit challenges to get employees moving
BP America THE MILLION STEP CHALLENGE
More than 23 000 employees enrolled in the com pany’s challenge, and nearly 2 000 surpassed 2 million steps within a year. Employees who reached step goals earned points toward eligibility for a lower-deductible health plan.
Indiana University Health HEALTHY RESULTS
After a three-month step challenge that began at the end of 2014, 40% of the 4 000 participants had decreased their BMI; 67% said they were coping better with stress; and 67% reported healthier eating habits.
Kimberly-Clark LIVE WELL CHALLENGE
As an incentive for completing biometric screenings, employees were challenged to take 10 000 steps a day. Forty-seven percent of participants increased their cardiovascular fitness; 50% of them lost weight and increased strength and flexibility.
Appirio’s medical aid company, Anthem, invested $20 000 to help the company kick-start a wellness programme. Appirio bought 400 Fitbits for employees and used the data from them to negotiate a 6% reduction to the company’s health plan premiums.
want to reach. “The employees who aren’t in shape may not want to go through one of these challenges,” she says. Many companies use leader boards, for instance, which can lionise the fit but demoralise those with health issues. Moreover, privacy advocates worry that wellness challenges could be used to penalise employees who decline to participate—or, worse, simply fail to succeed. Companies have increasingly used a combination of carrots (free vacation days!) and sticks (higher premiums) to coerce employees into participating in health screenings and wellness programmes—a practice that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has fought with varying success. With trackers, it’s not always clear what data is being collected about employees’ health habits. “People may assume or expect there are [privacy] protections,” says the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Lee Tien, who specialises in privacy law. “But they don’t know what data is being collected.” Most employers say they only look at data in aggregate. But since HIPAA doesn’t cover wellness programmes that aren’t integrated with insurers, in some cases, employees will need to take their company’s word for it. Park seems unperturbed about these concerns. He says Fitbit will never sell data to third parties, like marketers, nor will it work with employers who don’t meet its privacy standards, which include obtaining consent before sharing personally identifiable data. “It’s detrimental to our core business if employees have concerns about what’s being done with their data,” he explains. “We are trying to take the issue of privacy off the table.” For his part, Broviak didn’t seem particularly concerned about his employer’s involvement. “I racked up enough points for a free exercise ball and a slight discount on my insurance,” he says. “But by far the biggest reward was my health.”
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Horn of Africa Olivia Knox’s housewares have a higher mission BY DIANA BUDDS
Photograph by Keirnan Monaghan & Theo Vamvounakis
Till the cows come home The company hires skilled Ugandan artisans to turn Ankole horns into striking products such as this vase.
18 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A JUNE 2016
more pure-bred Ankoles. “Now the farmer is not just raising it for meat and milk. It’s for the entirety,” Byanyima says. The pair works with the local beef industry to source the horns (usually discarded) and As a member of Uganda’s Bahima hires skilled Ugandan artisans to tribe, Olivia Byanyima carries a turn them into striking jewellery, deep reverence for the African accessories and housewares. Ankole cow. “Our culture revolves Olivia Knox products can be around this animal,” she says. But in recent years, the number of pure- purchased through Anthropologie and Bloomingdale’s, among other retailers. bred Ankoles—known for their Byanyima projects $1 million (R15.4 majestic horns and commanding million) in sales by 2017, partly due presence—has dropped as farmers to new deals with eyewear makers cross Ankoles with breeds that Lindberg and Hoffman. produce more milk. Researchers As more global businesses find have predicted that Ankoles could be extinct by the middle of the century. uses for the horns, Byanyima hopes the significance of the material Byanyima, who moved to the travels with it. “Companies should US in 2003, saw a chance to help. In 2014, she and social entrepreneur educate customers on the importance of their products. You should know Shanley Knox founded Olivia Knox the value you add to the world by to create a luxury market for the horn, incentivising farmers to raise buying this product.”
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Innovo Networks has the IT integration expertise to help enterprises take on their greatest challenges, says MD Damian Michael.
W ith it s innovati ve communications of ferings, Innovo Ne t works is developing the SMME marke t in South Africa and abroad
In the dynamic telecommunications environment, technology can no longer be used as the only differentiator. The stringent regulatory environment means telecoms companies constantly have to think out of the box and innovate differently to the rest of the world when responding to client business challenges. This in itself is an opportunity to create real depth in services and solutions that respond to these challenges. A leading communications service provider, Innovo Networks—together with its partners—helps solve some of the biggest ICT challenges faced by small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). Communicating with customers and suppliers is paramount: Phone systems, networks, fax machines, ordering systems and other integral pieces of technology cannot afford downtime. Innovo’s solutions play an imperative role in unifying communications strategies, controlling cost, and maintaining the highest levels of data integrity to suit the needs of a growing population. Innovo Networks provides the most stable, resilient and redundant network available plus the most innovative scope of offerings. Products include voice, data, Internet, PBX, hosted PBX, contact centres and MPLS (multi-protocol label switching). Last-mile carrier services, connectivity, cloud computing and communication solutions offer Innovo’s clients a wide range of options to suit their business needs.
Con nectivit y Connectivity is not the physical infrastructure required to connect to a
network, but the optimal use of expertise in the Internet Protocol to facilitate logical connectivity with high reliability, security, appropriate performance to meet differentiated business requirements, as well as superior proactive and reactive service provisioning, restoration and maintenance. Current connectivity solutions include corporate Internet access, virtual private networks, community-based connectivity services, and fixed and mobile broadband.
Com m u n ication s Communications refers to the use of an Internet-technology enabled network to facilitate human-to-human communications, whether peer-to-peer or server-mediated. Services include voice, messaging, facsimile, mobility, and fixed-mobile convergence services.
While innovation and solution development drive opportunity for business growth, it is the client that remains at the core of what Innovo Networks does.
Cloud Cloud services involve moving both physical computing infrastructure and applications into the cloud, primarily through the use of data centre–based services such as lodging, hosting as well as virtualisation of servers, storage and back-office applications.
Ca rrier Last-mile physical connectivity services include last-mile agency relationships with providers and selective selfprovisioning, the latter where Innovo Networks is unable to source last-mile services at a competitive price or where attractive niche opportunities exist. Current solutions include DD, IS, MTN and Vodacom agency relationships, self-provisioning wireless, reselling GSM-based data-connectivity services, satellite and fibre-optic local loop services. All solutions and services are built on a world-class, secure and resilient infrastructure, delivered according to global best practices and in partnership with leading technology vendors such as Cisco, Microsoft and Symantec. Innovo is an enterprise development partner with Dimension Data and Internet Solutions, as well as a Microsoft Gold Partner and an approved certified Cisco-Managed Security Service Provider. Innovo embraces open-source technology, and partners with leading local and international companies to deliver business-ready Linux and opensource solutions. While innovation and solution development drive opportunity for business growth, it is the client that remains at the core of what Innovo Networks does.
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WE NEED BANKING
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NOT BANKS W H Y T H E C U R R E N T G E N E R AT I O N O F F I N T E C H S TA R T U P S HAS TRADITIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS RUNNING SCARED
By Tom Jackson
“I RECKON BANKS ARE THE NEXT SECTOR THAT WILL BE DISRUPTED. WE’RE RUNNING A VERY ARCHAIC MODEL. THOSE DISRUPTIONS ARE GOING TO COME,” REMARKED WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES, ALAN WINDE, AT THE BARCLAYS/TECH LAB AFRICA DEMO DAY LAST DECEMBER.
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In October, Barclays Africa had chosen 10 fintech startups to take part in its 13-week accelerator programme as part of its open innovation platform called Rise. Barclays was one of the first to realise fintech startups pose a growing challenge to banks’ control over the financial services sector. Fintech—financial technology—is becoming increasingly big business across the African continent. Recent research by Disrupt-Africa.com found that financial services is among the most popular destinations of investment in African tech startups, with almost 30% of the total funding received by small technology companies going to those focused on fintech. Using technology to streamline financial services, companies such as Nigeria’s Paga and South Africa’s Nomanini have raised significant amounts of funding over the course of last year, and this trend only looks set to continue in 2016 as fintech startups shake up an industry that clearly needs to change to meet the needs of Africa’s citizens. Indeed, traditional banking on the continent has clearly failed. According to worldwide consultancy, McKinsey & Company, around 80% of the African population— approximately 330 million adults—are not connected to formal financial services. Only 2% of retail transactions in Africa are electronic, according to MasterCard data. Mobile money has gone some way toward addressing this, with such transactions in sub-Saharan Africa hitting $656 million (more than R10 billion) in 2014 and projected to more than double to $1.3 billion (R20 billion) over the next four years. But now there’s a further challenge to the traditional banking sector. Derek White, chief design and digital officer at Barclays, says startups are playing a crucial role in the way the financial services industry is changing, and banks must become part of this process for their own survival. Barclays has taken the process seriously. From its previous accelerator programmes in Europe and the US, almost 30 startups signed agreements with the bank. In Cape Town, Barclays worked with 10 African
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fintech startups for a period of three months, eventually signing proof-ofconcept partnerships with three of these. The main benefit for Barclays, according to White, is that startups can roll out solutions far more quickly and efficiently than the bank could manage if it were doing so in-house. “We are finding that, for us, it is between five and 10 times more efficient to work with startups,” he says. “And it is three times quicker than when we do it for ourselves.” Hong Kong–based DBS Bank last year ran an accelerator programme in partnership with local venture capital firm, Nest. As a result of
FORWARD-THINKING BANKS ARE MOVING FAST TO SECURE THE RIGHT PARTNERSHIPS, CREATE THEIR OWN CAPABILITIES, AND WORK ACTIVELY WITH STARTUPS. Nest’s recent establishment of an office in Nairobi, two African fintech startups—Kenya’s SuperFluid Labs and South Africa’s Creditable— joined the programme, and more will follow. MD of DBS Bank, David Lynch, says the extent of the challenge from fintech startups to established banks was clear to the incumbents of the accelerator. “Banks worldwide have enjoyed margins unimaginable in most industries. It’s little wonder startups are seeing the opportunity as barriers to entry come down.” He is under no illusion that banks must adapt to this new scenario. He says established players have two choices: Either they ignore
the innovation that’s taking place around them and see their customer bases shrink, or they choose to play a part in the new era of financial services and work with startups toward a common goal. “We have chosen to actively participate in the creation of a new fintech ecosystem that will ultimately help us deliver better service to our customers. We desperately want to find ways to serve and engage digitally oriented customers better, in the same way the leading technology companies in the world have done. Banks must adapt—and those that don’t will not survive.” Traditional businesses that fail to adapt themselves to a digital world face extinction in the same way many other traditional industry leaders have fallen away, Lynch cautions further. “Once the customer is lost and the disintermediation begins, margins will fall dramatically for any bank that fails to participate in the new business models. P2P [peer-to-peer] lending and FX [forex] aren’t fads. Real-time mobile payments, digital marketplaces, robo-advisory services, artificial intelligence-based customer service are realities already. It’s difficult to find banks leading in any of these areas.” Forward-thinking banks, however, are moving fast to secure the right partnerships, create their own capabilities, and work actively with startups. Joyce-Ann Wainaina, CEO of Citibank East Africa—which itself is looking to engage with fintech startups, having last year hosted a mobile challenge in Kenya to build innovative solutions based on Citi’s digital platform— says too often new entrants in the financial services space are viewed as competitors. “For some incumbents, that might be true. But at Citi, we see these new entrants as potential partners. We are collaborating with new small businesses and entrepreneurs to identify innovative solutions and develop a truly global fintech ecosystem.” Citi, she says, understands the importance of building an open bank strategy to foster the creation of new technologies beyond its walls. “We believe gaining direct access to
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startups in Africa will help accelerate and uncover new opportunities for Citi to develop transformational approaches to banking.” The benefit for the banks, then, is clear. But as White, Lynch and Wainaina are all keen to point out, there are clear benefits for the startups involved as well, primarily in access to customers and finance. Rahul Jain, co-founder of South African payments startup, Peach Payments (one of the three companies to sign a proof-of-concept partnership with Barclays), says the advantage startups have over incumbents when it comes to innovation is that they have fewer limitations. “An incumbent has to work around a large number of constraints including existing infrastructure, customer base and product, whereas a startup can essentially start with a blank whiteboard,” he notes. “Fewer constraints open the path for more innovation, and more free and creative problem solving.” But Jain admits Peach Payments also needs banks like Barclays to accelerate its vision, and says he sees a long and fruitful
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EITHER ESTABLISHED PLAYERS IGNORE THE INNOVATION THAT’S TAKING PLACE AROUND THEM AND SEE THEIR CUSTOMER BASES SHRINK, OR THEY CHOOSE TO PLAY A PART IN THE NEW ERA OF FINANCIAL SERVICES AND WORK WITH STARTUPS TOWARD A COMMON GOAL. 24 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A JUNE 2016
relationship between his company and the bank. This view is shared by Abdigani Diriye, co-founder of SuperFluid Labs, who says both banks and startups have much to gain. “Fintech has been described by some as disrupting the banking sector, and others as a bubble. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, where fintech is the natural evolution of banking,” he says. “We see banks increasingly working with fintech startups because it’s a symbiotic relationship: Startups are able to experiment and break and try new things faster and considerably cheaper than banks—but banks have the operational, infrastructural and regulatory frameworks and underpinnings in place to safely, securely and legally serve millions of people.” Diriye expects bank–startup partnerships to become more common in the coming years as a result of these differing strengths, which he says is good news for consumers. “This relationship will become a lot more collaborative in the future. We will see banks providing APIs [application programming interfaces, which allow two different pieces of software to interact with one another] and a sandbox for startups to integrate and leverage capability offered by the bank, and consumers will hopefully see many more financial products being offered jointly by startups and banks.” South Africa was prioritised by Barclays for its accelerator programme, testament to the amount of innovation going on in the space. Companies such as Entersekt, which provides banks with consumer authentication systems, and Yoco, which allows companies to accept card payments from anywhere, have been the subject of interest from both investors and banks. Entersekt CEO Schalk Nolte says partnerships will become more commonplace, as the days of banks innovating incrementally on their own and differentiating around pricing are gone. “That said, the muchhyped battle between fintech and traditional banking isn’t a ‘winner takes all’ situation— unless by ‘winner’, you mean the consumer. The combination of fintech’s creativity with banks’ resources and their close relationships with their customers can only lead to huge improvements in delivery and affordability. From my perspective, we can do more together.”
Illustrations by Peter Arkle
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SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Andrew Watkins-Ball FOUNDER AND CEO, JUMO
For banking on the mobile money market
It is estimated that 80% of people in subSaharan Africa lack basic financial services such as loans, insurance and savings. However, there are over 170 million mobile wallet accounts in Africa—and Jumo is taking advantage of this. For the last seven years, Andrew WatkinsBall has been focused on technology and financial services as well as venturing into the application of nanotechnology in the energy sector. He has successfully built and sold various businesses including Gateway Telecommunications, a satellite service provider that was purchased by Vodacom in 2008 for R5.5 billion at the time. His latest venture, Jumo, is a mobile platform that provides data and product services to mobile network operators and consumers in Africa. The first product, aptly named Access, is a mobile marketplace that connects investors with borrowers in countries including Tanzania and Kenya. It facilitates 30 000 loans per day to entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals and is expected to double that volume by the end of the year, creating financial access—through mobile wallets—for Africa’s mass market at an unprecedented scale. Watkins-Ball spent seven years at Wall Street investment bank, Salomon Brothers, in London and New York. His first success came in the form of an event-production business he launched in Cape Town, which did work for
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Floating ideas â€œI love jumping into a product or data-science work stream to try and solve a problem. I really struggle to get myself back out again,â€? says Watkins-Ball.
Photographs by Francois Maritz
SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Quincy Jones and Nelson Mandela, among other big names. Fast Company SA approached Watkins-Ball to shed more light on his business journey and offer his knowledge gleaned from years in the industry.
What motivates you? I love jumping into a product or data-science work stream to try and solve a problem. I really struggle to get myself back out again. I’m sure it’s really annoying for my colleagues! We’ve just made a really cool breakthrough building an algorithm that predicts people’s usage of mobile money 30 days into the future, with 90% accuracy. This means better fitted products delivered quicker to our customers. Can you tell us more about Jumo? Jumo is a marketplace that delivers financial products to people and small businesses on their mobile: We connect the banks to your phone or point-of-sale device via your mobile network, and get them to compete to provide you with the best deal—for a savings product or working capital loan for your business. In our (emerging) markets, 80% of people don’t have bank accounts; there’s limited Internet penetration and it’s hard to access good choices—but mobile-phone penetration is very high. We can bypass the need for a bank account by teaming up with mobile networks and building pipes that connect the world of financial services to your handset. We’re building this business because we believe everyone deserves access to choices. Having people excluded is just not acceptable anymore.
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You have worked with people as diverse as Nelson Mandela and Quincy Jones. What are the biggest lessons you have learnt? Madiba and Quincy are great examples of how cool it is to be humble. When you have something important to offer, being considerate becomes a responsibility. Recognise that everyone has their own strengths; focus on potential; and embrace change. Where do you see Jumo in the next few years? I think we’re moving more quickly into a phase where our partner networks and banks recognise the need to open up and be more responsive. Our build prioritisation will be increasingly prompted by users and increasing real-time customisation capability. We’ll be increasing the number of product providers in our marketplace from three today to hundreds within a few years. Tell us more about your venture involving nanotechnology. It’s a big startup in beta phase in the UK and US that’s pioneering a solutions-based nanotechnology process to take waste coal and turn it into an environmentally friendly and super-efficient source of energy. The resulting cleaned material has substantially reduced impurities and creates useful things, like
topsoil, as a byproduct. The results so far are impressive and have huge potential for emissions reduction if we can get it to scale effectively. The company will be launching publicly in the next couple of months. What are your thoughts on innovation and creativity in business? How have you integrated them into your company culture? We treat the status quo as something that needs to be interrogated, and have no faith that any existing solution is doing the job properly. I think that’s the only perspective that’s going to work if you’re growing a business that’s changing the way people do things on a large scale. Your conviction is going to be tested so regularly as you build, that, if it’s not fundamentally part of your organisational DNA, you’re going to fail to keep being true to your objective. Oh and we have a space-themed office with a mission control centre; we’ve built ‘caves’ for people to escape to; and there are loads of propeller heads running around high on coffee from our baristas’ magic blends! What can we still expect from Jumo? Hopefully a few more ideas that drive better sharing. Not just for ‘nice-to-have’ products but delivering infrastructure solutions that transform our ability to manage resources more efficiently.
Francois Maritz (Photographer), Miranda Myburgh (JUMO) (Art Direction)
Fast Company: What would you consider your greatest business success? WATKINS-BALL: In 2005, I borrowed a plane from one of my clients at the time, flew a group of investors from the US and UK to South Africa, and then convinced them to invest over $3 billion [over R19 billion at the time] in half a dozen South African companies. That set me on a path to building a telecommunications business that provided satellite uplinks to help mobile networks expand their footprints more quickly. Realising how poor the choice equation is for the majority of Africans, I’ve now built a platform that connects everyone with a mobile phone to great low-cost financial products. My biggest success is giving people in Africa better choices: With 50 million subscribers under integrated coverage and another 140 million in the pipeline, Jumo is the biggest driver of financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa.
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SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Megan Faure OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST, AUTHOR, SPEAKER
For helping parents make sense of childcare
Megan Faure’s baby daughter, her second child, was quite the settled infant: “She was so easy that she made me feel successful at mothering.” Faure felt compelled to write a book that guides parents to read their baby’s signals in order to better understand their little one. Together with friend and colleague Ann Richardson—a qualified nurse and midwife—she wrote Baby Sense, which has become one of the most revered baby-care books. Three more major best-sellers followed, and Faure has recently ‘put to bed’ her fifth book, Pregnancy Sense, which is due for release in September this year. After acquiring a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Cape Town, she kicked off her career as an occupational therapist before becoming a highly experienced infant specialist, and successful author and ‘mompreneur’. In 2004, leading on from the book, Faure founded the Baby Sense online company that fed her passion to create solutions for moms of new babies, she says. It offers practical and well-researched products such as parenting books, baby products and apps, as well as articles, seminars, workshops, tips and advice developed by leading parenting experts. She later sold the company and created a new platform, Play Sense, which adopts a much more creative approach but on a broader scale. “Play Sense is the
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most amazing early-education solution whereby teachers purchase a licence (which comes with training and support) to run a playgroup for three to six children aged 2 to 3 years, hosted in the home of one of the children,” Faure explains. “My goal was to create a homebased education tool that is tailored to be implemented in small groups in order to make it more effective and fun-filled. The curriculum is completely unique and focuses on development of foundations through play.” Children learn better and memorise things quicker through play, which Faure takes full advantage of with her creative innovation. Play Sense focuses on emotional development, social interaction, problem solving, sensory and other developmental skills. “We have four groups running so far, with many more on the cards. We have set this year aside as our pilot year in which we refine the model; we are looking to have a proper launch next year with the licence model.” Faure has another groundbreaking project in the pipeline, called Ayah: an app that aims to help parents make sense of their baby’s biometrics. “I have patented and developed the model for a baby monitor—an application that ties into wearable devices for infants. It’s a huge project, and getting it off the ground will be a mammoth task,” she says. But we’re sure it will be child’s play for Megan Faure.
Richard Hardiman FOUNDER, RANMARINE TECHNOLOGY
For using the tech of today to protect the oceans for tomorrow
Mother knows best With three kids of her own, Faure says she is extremely lucky to be doing the work she’s most passionate about: “working with moms and their precious babies.”
While strolling around the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town one day, Richard Hardiman spotted two gentlemen trying to collect trash that was floating on the water in the harbour—with the restless tide making their task ever more difficult. This was a major concern for the radio-host-turned-entrepreneur, as the Waterfront is a celebrated tourist destination and a huge revenue generator for the city. But within every problem lies an opportunity. “I noticed that what the gentlemen were attempting to do was very important, and I played around with a few ideas, trying to figure out ways of achieving the same goal in a much simpler way; and that is how the idea to start this company came about,” he says. Besides solving this specific problem, RanMarine Technology was faced with another challenge: convincing the authorities that the solutions required went beyond a normal wastemanagement mandate. “Usually the majority of the waste goes out on the tide or sinks to the bottom, creating these massive floating plastic islands out in the ocean—80% of plastic in the ocean comes via harbours, rivers and canals,” Hardiman explains. “Our goal was to find a way to simplify the task, make it less costly and with far greater efficiency than the two gentlemen I saw at the harbour.” Hardiman and his team had to come up with a modern solution for an age-old problem. And they did: in the form of a
drone that collects waste from the water. “Drones and autonomous solutions have come a long way in the past few years, so in our case the question was: What do we use that is out there at our disposal right now, to solve the problem we see?” Currently operating in the Netherlands and South Africa, RanMarine Technology has built an autonomous platform for water-based operations: manning harbours, ports and canals globally with 24-hour on-the-water aqua drones. These solar-powered drones—called WasteSharks—collect detritus, marine waste and chemical substances from the sea and then feed back into the port authorities’ established wastemanagement programmes. “We engineered a solution with what was at our disposal, not by building new and expensive tech,” Hardiman reiterates. He adds that this technology does not present a job threat, because it merely does something that humans cannot do effectively. “My personal goal is to get out there and see what we can automate— not to replace people but rather to give them greater efficiency and create employment in doing so.”
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SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Charles Savage CEO, PURPLE GROUP & EASYEQUITIES
For investing in the average South African Our national discourse, and indeed global discourse, is often laced with tension to do with capital ownership. Marx’s question of who owns the means of production still haunts us. We still, despite all Marx’s tragic and vast mistakes, wrestle with the question of surplus value being denied the worker. What Marx did not foresee is innovators who could capitalise the people. Already, companies like Uber and Airbnb are allowing service providers to work for themselves and take home their own profits. And in the most controversial sphere of them all, the world of equity, IT innovation married to financial savvy is now allowing the person on the street to own the market. This is precisely what Charles Savage and the Purple Group have done with EasyEquities, which allows consumers to purchase fractional shares on an online platform that makes investing easy, transparent and intuitive. This allows the average South African, who perhaps has only R100 to invest, the opportunity to buy equity in some of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s most valuable stock. Savage describes the thought process that led to EasyEquities: “I realised that, actually, financial services is the biggest discriminator in the country, because if two customers walk into my old-world offices, one with a million rand and one with 10 rand, the one guy gets
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coffee, tea, Champagne and 15 brokers, while the other guy gets shown the door. We have to recognise that our job is not just to protect and manage wealth; it’s to create wealth. And where does wealth start? It starts with 10 rand.” EasyEquities is one of four business units in the Purple Group stable, all of which provide different avenues to invest in the market. The other three are GT247.com, an online trading platform; GT Private Broking, which provides personal brokerage; and Emperor Asset Management, which offers managed investments. The mission of the group is to help South Africans understand, participate in, and benefit from financial markets. “It’s all about learning how to grow your wealth, and then having the confidence— and the access—to go out and do it,” says Savage. In other words, the group aims to open up the whole process of investing. One of the chief ways in which EasyEquities does this is by ensuring that for every R100 invested, only 65 cents is lost to costs. According to Savage, what the group has achieved is “the democratisation of share ownership for all South Africans”. Savage came into the industry from the tech angle, when he began building websites for financial companies in the dot-com boom of the ‘90s. When one of his clients hired him as chief technology officer, Savage began to build the
infrastructure that would bring spread trading and contract-fordifference to the country. Eventually he would branch out from tech to managing the businesses, and by 2010 he would become CEO of the Purple Group, which holds his original tech client, GT247.com. For Savage, innovation is all about “getting out of the room”. “I think financial services have locked themselves in rooms for too long and sold products that they think the market wants. For me, if you’re going to innovate, you have to get out of the room; you have to understand what the challenges are that your consumers are facing, and you have to address those challenges in a new way.” This process is not so much about invention as understanding your consumer, and opening up new platforms for them from which they can participate, he adds. “Innovation is not about pioneering; it is not about building rockets or new power stations or taking people to the moon. It’s about doing old-world things in a new way, which opens the market or audience to a much broader audience. Uber is the perfect example. It didn’t invent Google or maps or the taxi. It invented nothing—but what it did was repackage in a new way that opened the target audience to everyone. That’s exactly what I mean about what financial services need to do: Get out the room and understand
what these challenges are so that more people could drive and take control and participate.” In the financial industry, the Purple Group is harnessing technology in order to create a space for this participation. “Advancements in technology, specifically in the smartphone, have made it much easier, because your engagement point now is real-time. This is the first thing that goes into your pocket when you leave home and the last thing you put down when you go to bed. This makes it much easier for us to educate, communicate, collaborate and do all the things we need to do as a financial services company,” Savage notes. “Yes, we should recognise the opportunity, but then leave behind our egos and our strategies that we’ve deployed in the past and think about how we’re going to engage a broader community and the challenges they face in understanding what we do.” Perhaps the most interesting thing about Savage and the culture he has created in his business is his fresh approach to the concept of failure. “Within an organisation, you have to create an environment that’s enabling for failure. For me, the best analogy is, you have to create trapeze ropes and make sure the net is in place. So these guys are happy to swing, but they don’t want to fall on the floor, so you have to give them those nets and say, ‘It’s okay; it’s lekker that you did try—in fact, let’s focus on the lessons that came from those failures. Let’s not worry about the failure. You didn’t hit the floor, you’re still alive and you’re not getting fired.’ Culturally, South Africa has a problem with that, because we’re not born, bred or educated to fail.” By turning failure inside out, by seeking to democratise the market, and by being willing to bust out of old rooms and disrupt exclusive and tired practices, Savage has become one of the country’s most creative people in business. “I think I can leave a legacy that makes a difference in South Africa. I want to have a lot of fun disrupting and challenging financial services in this country and making that difference.”
SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE Innovation’s for everyone Cook says the RIIS “makes sense of the wealth of knowledge around the world, and provides a channel by which this knowledge can be accessed by anyone.”
Davis Cook CEO, RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY
For identifying innovation in the notso-obvious places
The privately held firm, RIIS, is a pioneer in the development of open-innovation systems within South Africa, focusing on helping companies identify and source best-in-class technologies from around the world—thereby accelerating their research & development and innovation cycles, and giving them a competitive advantage. CEO Davis Cook has previously worked in strategy and management consulting across the world while based in London, and held high-level advisory positions within the Provincial Government of Gauteng. He has started (and failed at) several of his own renewable-energy businesses, one of which is focused on geothermal energy production. He is passionate about innovation for economic development, collaborating to solve the challenges of business and society. This year, the RIIS has broadened its scope and taken on a first-of-its-kind project with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). Fast Company SA asked Cook to shed more light on the work of the institute. Fast Company: Why did you establish the RIIS? COOK: My vision for the RIIS
was to create an organisation that acts as the enabling structure for global collaborative innovation. As we create more and more information, data and knowledge around the world, one of the most difficult challenges organisations face is how to make sense of it all. How do we peer into a maelstrom of innovation and disruption and technology, and find a solution that works for us, which enables us to stay relevant? This is exactly what the RIIS does: It makes sense of the wealth of knowledge around the world, and provides a channel by which this knowledge can be accessed by anyone. What is the core aim of the organisation? Our aim is to create a single piece of infrastructure that any organisation can use to identify and source innovations and
intellectual property that will help them remain relevant. The (equally important) corollary to this is that we act as a bridge between smaller, dynamic startup companies with amazing ideas, and larger corporates that have the resources and market access to turn those ideas into tangible and viable offerings. How have you been applying creativity in the RIIS? A critical component of our work is to search for and identify innovation in non-obvious places, so although we may be working on railway technology, we could find the solution in consumer goods; or perhaps we find the solution to a food-packaging problem in the vehicle-safety industry. These are real stories— and one of the best parts of our work is finding a brilliant
solution in a space that one simply never expected. Tell us about the project in collaboration with SANSA. It’s an amazing project that we’ve had the privilege to work on this year. We are supporting SANSA to help enhance and enlarge the space industry in South Africa through quite exciting startup projects. We’ve had absolutely incredible ideas come through that will have a material impact on everything from artisanal mining, to insurance, to emerging agriculture—even video games. Helping to create new industries and new companies is fantastic, and the enthusiasm that our teams have is really contagious. The project is ongoing, but we’ve already seen great commercial relationships built up, and have more hope for this in the future.
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Julian and Trevyn McGowan FOUNDERS, SOURCE AND SOUTHERN GUILD; CO-ORDINATORS, DESIGN NETWORK AFRICA
For showcasing South African design
A fresh perspective Design may be very young in Africa, note the McGowans, but “in the established world of collectible design, southern Africa has something very new to say.”
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For more than a decade, husbandand-wife team Julian and Trevyn McGowan have been devoted to taking Africa’s burgeoning design scene to the world, with their efforts earning them a spot on Art+Auction magazine’s 2013 The Power 100: an annual list of the most influential players in the art world. In 2003, they established Source from their home in Wilderness on the Garden Route, promoting South African design in the global marketplace. Source is now the primary agency for the international representation of South African design, with a client base that includes Urban Outfitters, Jamie Oliver, ABC Carpet & Home, Bergdorf Goodman, Soho House and Firma Casa. “We started Source when South African design was really finding its feet. Many new young designers were emerging, and established ones were getting into their stride; it was fortuitous timing, because we already
had relationships with the international marketplace and understood what it required,” they told Style Icons. The McGowans also launched Southern Guild, a platform for the country’s collectible design, in 2008. It comprises an invited list of South Africa’s best designers and artists, encouraging them to explore and produce more challenging work; it has redefined the perception of South African design both locally and globally. “Craft is very old in Africa, but design is very young. Part of the global appeal of contemporary South African design is that it’s unfettered, imaginative and energetic,” says Trevyn. “In the established world of collectible design, southern Africa has something very new to say.” In 2011, Southern Guild was the first African gallery to present at DesignMiami and has since shown at Design Days Dubai and the
inaugural Collective Design fair in New York. The Southern Guild 2013 Collection opened at the Museum of African Design in Johannesburg. That same year, Trevyn and Julian established the Southern Guild Design Foundation, a nonprofit organisation to support the development of designers and grow the industry. This led to the Design Network Africa, a Danish-funded programme assisting to transform the businesses of top designers from 12 African countries, and build a new global understanding and appreciation for African design. “Our designers don’t follow international trends. Sometimes they don’t even want to know what’s happening ‘over there’. All of the top designers are exploring their own personal visions and telling their own stories.” Cape Town’s designation as World Design Capital 2014 afforded the couple the opportunity to launch Africa’s first international design fair,
GUILD, introducing work from Africa and abroad. They also co-founded the Business of Design seminar that year. With lectures, panel discussions and workshops facilitated by industry experts, it is designed to equip creative enterprises to commercialise their businesses. The McGowans have curated two retail concepts: the Watershed at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront in 2014, and Work|Shop|New| Town in Johannesburg in 2015—each with over 100 local brands under one roof. Trevyn and Julian’s contribution to the promotion of African design globally and their innovative efforts to support African designers have made them leaders in the transformation of their industry. They have contributed significantly to the reputation of innovation, excellence and professionalism that southern African design now enjoys. “Our pieces are unique, and deserve to be perceived that way.”
Jeff Paterson & Oliver du Toit
never know how or where to convert. Fourex sorts out this little problem in no time—exchanging currencies from all around the world in a most convenient way. Mixed coins and notes are dumped into the Fourex kiosk, and the machine uses high-speed tech to identify, evaluate and exchange each coin or note (from over 150 world currencies, plus old European currencies). One can choose to exchange one’s money directly— into either pounds, euros or dollars. Local UK coins can also be converted into cash. The process seems simple enough, but the journey to creating the startup was anything but. Paterson and Du Toit had to develop the innovative software used in their machines to enable currency recognition, and at the
same time equip the machines to operate in self-service mode. The venture was also financially draining on both founders; at times they were left with no means of generating income due to consistently pumping personal funds into developing the idea. The duo resorted to crowdfunding as a means of financing their project; this set them on the right path and reignited their drive to see the company through after numerous setbacks. It all paid off when Fourex was endorsed by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, after the founders successfully sold their idea to him during the 2015 Pitch to Rich competition. Branson was so impressed by Paterson and Du Toit’s idea that their company received a ₤50 000 (more than R1 million)
financial boost after winning first place in the New Things category. Fourex is doing very well in the UK, where it has become the currency-exchange platform of choice for many travellers. Du Toit’s key focus is the technical functioning of the business, which involves constantly engaging with staff and ensuring the tech aspect of the machines is efficient at all times; he also monitors customer feedback. Paterson’s role includes engaging with their various stakeholders who are critical in helping the company meet its targets for customer satisfaction and community interactions. The duo is already in talks with various foreign-exchange bureaus to explore possible expansion opportunities.
For cashing in on foreign currency exchange
The UK–based money-exchange specialist Fourex was founded by two South Africans who realised that after returning from international travel, people often find themselves with leftover foreign currency, which they
Photograph by Jac de Villiers
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SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE Catch some z’s The Dora Esca hanging chair mimics the anglerfish, complete with sparkling light.
of some sort. If your roof is strong enough, you can hang anything.” He adds, “Not many people are referencing nature in their work at the moment, which is crazy. It’s currently more about production methods that are more eco-friendly or materials that have a lighter footprint. I think my work is a break in the seriousness of most design at the moment. A current trend is work that’s very dark and pretty cold, with a lot of black and hard metals and stone. I want my work to be fun and bring a smile to your face. A lot of it has to do with nostalgia.” He will be experimenting with designs at different angles, and moving beyond animals next, he says.
DESIGNER AND FOUNDER, ANIMAL FARM & PORKY HEFER DESIGN
For making art second nature
“When I grew up, I wanted to be a millionaire, drive a Porsche and retire at 60. Perhaps that’s what a lot of kids in the early 1970s thought as well. At that time, that was the norm and belief. Today, things have changed—but, unfortunately, old business still tries to base its values on days from the past.” After spending 16 years in advertising in Cape Town and New York agencies, Porky Hefer realised that the higher he climbed, the less he personally created. “The corporate process was becoming far more important than the product it produced. I saw far too many brilliant ideas get thrown away, and I wanted to spend my life making those types of ideas instead,” he says. So in 2007, he started up a creative consultancy called Animal Farm, and four years later, Porky Hefer Design. Hefer strives to produce work that elicits a smile and sticks in one’s mind, using conceptual precepts that manifest in 3D forms. His art is an expression of nature, the things he sees around him, and the global environment at large, he says. “I love nature, and I believe it’s the only
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thing we have that is permanent. I also believe in integrating the things I see around into my art. I appreciate the global world, but also try to remain true to my identity. So I would say my art is a fusion of different elements.” He has become known for his signature hanging nest chairs: cosy pods that are handmade from natural, biodegradable materials and inspired by the nest-building techniques of weaver birds. The pods can be hung from trees, posts or suspended stilts, and can accommodate two to four adults.
This animal-inspired work has now branched out from the avian to the marine: Hefer’s underwaterthemed leatherwork hanging seats include an anglerfish with sparkling light and bared teeth; a pelican with expanded beak in which one can curl up; as well as a crocodile, pufferfish, killer whale and manta ray, among others. He explains that this theme is merely an extension of the suspension theme of his nests. “You are suspended in water; for me, the roof became the water surface. It’s harder to suspend outdoors, as you need a tree or hook
Hefer believes the present African generation has an opportunity to establish different beliefs and values, because the new era encourages disruption, invention and looking at things differently. “People now see Africa as a new market as opposed to a new method. [Elon] Musk got the idea to invent Tesla products from South Africa. He lived as a kid in South Africa, and knew how it worked with the Eskom blackouts. He decided to solve a problem based on an African experience.”
Inset photograph by Adriaan Louw for Frank Features Main photograph by Justin Patric
Andile Dyalvane ARTIST AND CO-FOUNDER, IMISO CERAMICS
For breaking the design mould
Hailing from a small rural village in Qoboqobo in the Eastern Cape, Andile Dyalvane went against the grain in pursuing his love of ceramics and desire to open his own studio. “The business of design is not highlighted enough in areas such as the rural Eastern Cape, much less the opportunity to become a successful entrepreneur from one’s talents,” he says. “However, for me this was a calling. I could never see myself doing anything else.” Working with clay
Lianne du Toit CO–VICE CHAIR, SILICON CAPE INITIATIVE; BUSINESS DEVELOPER, U-START AFRICA
For giving tech support
In Lianne du Toit’s words, the Silicon Cape Initiative is an “etheric concept”, not a physical place. A social enterprise founded in 2009, it has been widely lauded for
enables him to create something “beautiful, valuable and usable from shapeless pieces of earth”. Now with more than 15 years’ experience in the industry, Dyalvane is an acclaimed entrepreneur and creative, working from out of his studio at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town. He realised at an early stage that his artistry alone wouldn’t bring in money—he needed some kind of brand, and Imiso Ceramics was born. “Unless one is just as focused on the business side of things, all the creative talent in the world will come to nothing,” says Dyalvane. “We were very strong on the creative side, but that the business knowledge in-house was lacking and we needed some help here.” The ETU SMME Accelerator Programme has been assisting Imiso greatly in overcoming business challenges. Dyalvane works with the three elements of life—water, air and fire— to transform clay and leather into masterful pieces that echo his Xhosa heritage. The traditional practice of
accelerating tech startups by providing a platform for the community to collaborate, share resources and amplify technological innovation. Du Toit says it was her passion for creating engaging events that got her a foot in the door to the tech space. “I was also inspired by a visit to the Google Campus in London years ago. It was there that I thought, imagine how cool it would be to have daily tech and startup events in Cape Town. Through Silicon Cape, that vision is becoming a reality with the support of an engaged community.” Her role has afforded her an opportunity to be part of groundbreaking outreach programmes that help entrepreneurs engage with
body scarification, or ukuqatshulwa, is a strong influence in his design style—cutting the clay to resemble scarring. Colour is another important aspect of his designs. This year, Dyalvane was chosen to represent Africa at the New York– based Friedman Benda Gallery in June with a limited-edition solo collection—one of just 15 artists and designers to be placed on the gallery’s exclusive list. This recognition is highly regarded, and known to open new doors globally. “Even today it really hasn’t truly sunk in,” says Dyalvane. “I have been in the industry for over 16 years. This type of nomination has given me what I would call my biggest break. It’s the type of recognition and platform I have worked to achieve for 16 years.”
established businesses. Silicon Cape aims to attract innovators with sector-specific ideas. “Access to market is a huge factor and something that Silicon Cape continuously tries to address. We often hear that funding is a barrier to entry, but from a recent study we conducted with PwC, this is not the case—access to market is,” says Du Toit. She excels in encouraging and promoting long-lasting business solutions, travelling around the world representing South Africa at international entrepreneurial congresses, and establishing the HackOn series of hackathons that include #GovHackSA, which attempts to find digital solutions to governmental problems through collaboration. Du Toit is also a business
In the shade Dyalvane says the use of colour is symbolic of various aspects of Xhosa tradition—such as red, for ceremonies or rituals.
Photograph by Adriaan Louw
developer at the African operation of global investment advisory firm, U-Start. In Africa, it invests in first and second rounds of techenabled ventures with strong and prominent local co-investment partners, and provides access to international markets. This year, Du Toit’s bold and visionary ideas were recognised by the MTN Solution Space: an innovation and entrepreneurship hub at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. She was awarded a scholarship to complete her MPhil in Inclusive Innovation, during which time she will be assisting the Venture Lab at the MTN Solution Space in the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem and incubation programme for startups at UCT.
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Ryan McFadyen & Jason Stewart FOUNDERS, HAVEYOUHEARD MARKETING
For getting all atwitter about word-of-mouth marketing
Back in 2008, when Ryan McFadyen and business partner Jason Stewart decided to materialise the concept they had of birthing their own marketing agency, they had no idea that HaveYouHeard would become the success story it is today. Eight years later, the company has employed 24 people on a full-time basis while working with numerous talents on a contractual basis. “It has been an interesting journey, especially from an entrepreneurial standpoint. We have seen the business grow in leaps and bounds,” says McFadyen. After working as marketers for various multinationals, McFadyen and Stewart decided to use their individual experience to build an establishment that would rewrite the concept of word-of-mouth marketing. “We identified the need to create more intimate consumer interactions on behalf of various brands,” McFadyen explains. “My business partner and I embraced this trend and launched HaveYouHeard Marketing. Over the past years, we have grown from strength to strength, working with forwardthinking companies such as Distell, takealot.com and DHL Africa, among others. More importantly, we have grown along with the business by getting better and
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more efficient at what we do. We try to remain innovative in everything by coming up with methods of execution that haven’t been tried by other companies before.” McFadyen believes HaveYouHeard still has a long way to go and even bigger milestones to achieve. The team recently received a positive nod from Twitter Global when the social media campaign they had put together for DHL Africa in 2014 was chosen as one of three global case studies highlighting the deeper role of social networks in marketing. The DHL #AfricaAsOne campaign aimed to bring rugby to the continent, ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2015. HaveYouHeard enlisted bloggers and other Twitter influencers to help spread the message. The on-the-ground team
travelled to 45 different countries in which DHL Africa has a business presence, to learn about their cultures. A rugby ball was passed across these African nations, ultimately ending up in London in time for the World Cup tournament. The team shot videos in each country, posting one per week on YouTube. HaveYouHeard then got as many eyes on the content as possible, and shared it with influencers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Twitter was the most successful platform, producing 1.2 billion impressions and 336 000 retweets. The campaign also had a reach of 18.2 million on Facebook with 415 000 interactions, and 30 million views on YouTube. “Most importantly, it yielded an advertising value equivalent figure
of R289 million—a total return on investment of over 140 to 1,” Stewart adds. “The recognition by Twitter Global is a very positive affirmation for us, as we have been putting measures in place to expand our offerings to the global market—first starting with Africa.” The #AfricaAsOne campaign also brought DHL Africa the 2014 Social Media Africa Award for Best Use by Public Sector. The success of the DHL campaign, among others, has positioned HaveYouHeard Marketing as a global leader within social media content generation, amplification and management. It has cultivated international interest in its services, with various requests from around the world. The team is looking to branch out to countries such as Angola, Ghana,
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Canada and, ultimately, Dubai. McFadyen feels going global will be a great move for the local company, but the team will have to approach this with much caution; one way of doing this will be through preserving the agency’s culture. “We believe in striving to break the set standards of marketing, but one thing remains constant to us: keeping true to our core values. It’s exciting to challenge the norm, but it’s equally important to do so without losing focus of who we are,” he asserts. He notes it’s very easy for companies to get stuck in what made them successful in their early phases, but that specific formula may not be enough to sustain longterm success in an environment where relevance is key to retaining consistency. “It’s important to break
certain habits to remain up to date with the industry’s expectations. New behaviours always lead up to new innovations; that’s why it’s important to keep testing new ground and never be content with previous achievements.” One of the most important business lessons that McFadyen and Stewart have learnt as entrepreneurs is how to make the transition from working within the business to working on the business, to ensure continued innovation and growth. Every company tends to miss the mark at some point, but the difference between successful companies and others is how they react and what they understand about these mistakes. “If a company is able to deduce the positive side of missed calls or slip-ups, then it can grow from that particular experience. It’s important to know how to limit the impact thereof. As a growing company, we constantly have to keep adjusting to the new levels we reach, and we are very fortunate to have a team in place to help us move through the different stages of our growth,” says McFadyen. Marketing is a dynamic industry in which things are constantly changing; hence creative thinking remains a very important attribute for the captains of the ship. Stewart points out: “Things don’t always turn out as planned, and success is determined by how you react to the challenges you face and what opportunities you can create from those situations. Who we are today as an agency is very different to who we were a year ago or who we will be a year from now, because we evolve with every creative decision we have to make.” It’s clear that HaveYouHeard’s inclusive, collaborative effort is one of the company’s most valuable assets, as it has nurtured an openminded approach at every level of the organisation.
Dr Melodie de Jager EDUCATOR, MIND DYNAMIX PROFILER, DEVELOPMENTAL SPECIALIST
For changing people’s minds
From an early age, Melodie de Jager excelled: from dux learner and head prefect in both primary and secondary school, to recently attaining her PhD. (For the latter, the focus was on techniques to stimulate whole-brain functioning.) Today, she is a popular guest on radio and television shows, and is frequently quoted in the press. De Jager’s education has been broad and diverse, and so has her entrepreneurial career. In 2005 she founded the BabyGym Institute, and the Mind Moves Institute two years later. These organisations promote the importance of physical development to optimise brain and whole child/person development. Next, in 2012, came the Senior Mind Moves Institute, which provides support for people who want to live with dignity and grace despite the physical challenges of old age; as well as the Mind Dynamix Institute to help those in the corporate world to unlock their authentic personal power while discovering how to fit each new set of challenges with ease and integrity—personally and professionally. Today, these institutes are dominating their respective areas of focus in South Africa. De Jager’s true passion is the empowerment of disadvantaged communities through quality education, having been motivated by necessity and passion. “I was a single parent with three small children, and had to earn more than a preschool teacher’s salary to ensure my kids got a good education. I turned my passion as a teacher into a self-sustaining venture,” she says. She also wrote books to create a passive income, and this naturally progressed to public speaking and consulting. “My passion for children [my own and others, big and small] and their ability to learn has been the source of my energy and inspiration. I believe education is a way out of poverty, as Nelson Mandela said. What we offer at the Mind Moves Institute can enable every child in South Africa to get a good education.” She ensures creativity plays an important role in her business by making sure everything is done in a fun way. Her advice? “Work must be fun. Say ‘yes’ often. Don’t stick to the office or office hours. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Dare to fail. Surround yourself with only the best team. Only appoint people who love what they do. Match the job to the person. Keep finding better ways. Above all, always remember that everything is possible through God who gives us strength. Never give up—find a way.”
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Mokena Makeka FOUNDER, MAKEKA DESIGN LAB
For doing good with great design
“Architecture is an art; it requires personality, intellect, stamina and bravery,” says Mokena Makeka, the visionary architect and “urban thinker” behind the Makeka Design Lab and MoDILA— the Museum of Design, Innovation, Leadership & Art. Having shaken up the world of architecture for more than a decade, Makeka uses design to bring about
societal transformation for the betterment of people’s lives—taking into consideration sustainability, human rights and heritage concerns. He is fascinated by cities: their potential and limits, and how South African cities still grapple with apartheid-era sociopolitical settlement constructs. He believes good architecture and design is a basic human right. He founded Makeka Design Lab in 2004 to create designs that not only offer solutions to cities but which also inspire and bring joy, and leave a lasting legacy. The award-winning design and architectural consultancy’s innovative conceptual projects are sustainable, practical and aesthetically pleasing. These projects include the Freedom Walk Fan Mile, Cape Town International Convention Centre East, the Ray Alexander Simons Memory Centre in Gugulethu, and the Delve Deeper building in Maboneng, among others.
MoDILA was established in 2009 and is the first large-scale institution and iconic museum of African contemporary visual art and design in South Africa. Its three ongoing flagship programmes are: The Academy of Creative & Leadership Excellence, an educational platform for fostering the arts and new modes of civic citizenship; DsgnTête-àTête, a platform and talk show on Bush Radio that promotes discussion around social, cultural and economic indicators that influence design; and Routes| Roots, which explores urbanity, cultural expression and innovation through exhibitions, public interventions and research. MoDILA also collaborated with the South African Informal City exhibition, and the universities of Columbia and Cape Town to create a project/event called A Tale of [2+1] Cities. It is a platform for design experts from the US and South Africa to engage about the
critical role of design—examining the future of African cities, and nurturing innovation in order to tackle global urban concerns. Makeka is an esteemed speaker and has shared his insights—on topics such as urbanisation, architecture and the importance of innovation in the design sector—at various events such as TEDxStellenbosch and AZA, the annual South African architecture conference. He has numerous accolades to his credit, including being named one of only two (South) African practitioners in the Ordos 100 construction project curated by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei in 2008. One hundred architects from 27 countries were chosen to each design a 1 000-square metre villa to be built in the new community of Ordos in Inner Mongolia. (Sadly, Ordos remains almost entirely unbuilt.)
A shot in the arm The Thusong Service Centre in Khayelitsha embodies Makeka’s conviction that architecture is a human right for all and a tool for improving people’s lives.
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Simon Spurr CO-FOUNDER, 30 DAY HEALTH; CEO, FOLUP AFRICA
For taking medical mobile
It is well known that people in the developing world are increasingly turning to mobile technology, in particular smartphones, for access to services such as banking and healthcare. “In Africa, we are faced with a huge challenge: remote distances between patients and providers, and access to good healthcare facilities. Technology can cross these bridges and really reduce the divide, and give the patient the ability to take control of their health,” says Simon Spurr, who has helped create two online healthcare tools that close the gap between patients and doctors. The co-founder of the startup 30 Day Health acted on his passion for medical technology in creating a web-based app, Care Delivery, which allows patients to access the details of registered healthcare professionals, book and pay for their services—such as changing a dressing or simply asking for medical advice—from their own home. “Right now it’s difficult for a patient to source and book good quality and affordable care services in South Africa. The convenience of a healthcare
A healthy future Digital health and tech are here to stay, says Spurr. “So funders, insurers, hospitals groups and doctors need to adopt technologies, and patients need to be managed better.”
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provider coming to one’s home or workplace is a strong value proposition,” says Spurr. Care Delivery is aimed particularly at the elderly, patients with chronic conditions, and people who have just been discharged from hospital and may require follow-up medical attention. Having a qualified caregiver or nurse treat the patient at home instead of being readmitted to hospital can save costs and ensure better co-ordinated care. Spurr explains, “Research has shown that one in five patients is readmitted from post-acute care within 30 days, at extensive cost to the health system. Meanwhile, a large portion of patients who are readmitted into hospital could have been prevented by using better patient management and early intervention methods.” The digital app has been designed to allow easy integration between mobile and web-based platforms—removing technical complications and making it easier for the target market to use. The platform is free for both the patient and healthcare provider, and can be accessed from any Internet-enable device. It took Spurr and his team months to develop and test Care Delivery, but they received much-needed support from the Tech Lab Africa accelerator (backed by Barclays Africa) and the Microsoft BizSpark programme. 30 Day Health went on to win the South African leg of the Start Tel Aviv competition in 2014. Spurr also heads up FOLUP in South Africa. Originally launched in Europe and the US in 2012, this web and mobile medical platform was brought to Africa to try and provide more accessible healthcare to rural populations. FOLUP is a contraction of the words ‘follow up’, and helps patients track their health information between consultations—building their own personalised, secure health record that can be accessed by their healthcare providers. “We have extensive plans for development phases to incorporate new features and services,” says Spurr. “We are gathering user feedback to enhance the apps and strengthen our value proposition, and to ensure our patients have access to a broad range of high-quality care providers at their fingertips.” He adds, “Digital health is here, technology is here, and it is here to stay. So funders, insurers, hospitals groups and doctors need to adopt technologies, and patients need to be managed better.”
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Subscribe to Fast Company SA and stand a chance to win the book, And For All These Reasons … I’M IN, authored by the Dragons’ Den SA judges Fast Company South Africa is available in selected Pick n Pay and Exclusive Books stores. An annual subscription is for 10 print issues of Fast Company SA magazine (March/April and December/January double up as one issue each), at a cost of R240 (including 14% VAT and postage). Full payment must be made before the subscription is valid. This offer is for South Africa ONLY. If you would like to subscribe, email Taryn Kershaw for more details: email@example.com. I’M IN isn’t a how-to-build-your-business book, but rather one that offers insights into the thinking and experiences of people who have built businesses, have witnessed them fail, and have seen them rise again. Gil Oved, Lebo Gunguluza, Polo Leteka, Vinny Lingham and Vusi Thembekwayo—judges on the first SA season of reality TV show Dragons’ Den— were once in the same position in which all entrepreneurs find themselves before they take that leap. They know how it feels: the excitement, the passion, the sense of making a difference through offering something original, complex or simple. They know the disappointments when things don’t go according to plan. But they persevered. I’M IN is essential advice for all entrepreneurs. Visit iminbook.co.za for more information. JUNE 2016 FASTCOMPANY.CO.Z A 45
Raphael Smith, Heidi Wilson & Shuaib Omar FOUNDERS, BMEC TECHNOLOGIES
For tackling concussion head-on
The BMEC Technologies trio met while working at another medical device company, CapeRay Medical. They all had one thing in common: an immeasurable passion for engineering medical devices. Upon realising the advantage of combining their collective and diversified experience in design engineering, the team decided to join forces and build their own consultancy firm. Says MD Raphael Smith: “Since my varsity days, I have dreamt of starting an engineering consultancy. Shuaib, Heidi and I decided to take the risk head-on and start our own. The idea of solving tough problems from across the engineering disciplines is what fired up my drive to achieve this goal. Wherever possible, we like to focus on ethical and health-related technologies.” He holds a BSc degree in Aeronautical Engineering and an MSc in Biomedical Engineering. According to project director Heidi Wilson, who holds a BSc degree in Mechatronic Engineering, BMEC’s biggest asset is the team’s ability to offer full multi-disciplinary engineering services including mechanical, industrial, software and electronic expertise. Starting the company presented its fair share of challenges, one of which was introducing their diverse expertise to potential clients. Their long years of accumulated experience proved beneficial, allowing them to build a credible track record in the industry. “Engineering projects are not as numerous as the days on the calendar, and the budget required to get started is very high. Getting the word out there was very vital for us, and we immediately discovered that social media platforms were not an ideal solution,” says Smith. “Our clients are usually long-
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standing companies, so it is of major importance for them to be served by a company that is very proficient and well-versed in its responsibilities.” Technical director Shuaib Omar, who has a BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering as well as an MSc in Electrical Engineering, says: “Patience is key; and ideals don’t often take shape immediately. It takes time to build business relationships, and eventually convert those relationships into project contracts and to establish a lasting reputation. It took a very strong work ethic to strengthen the key business relationships that were important for establishing ourselves as a partner of choice for the clients we had on our radar.” BMEC Technologies opened its doors in 2014 and has already been involved in projects that could inject a good dose of envy into some of their competitors in the design engineering sector. The company’s first project was the g-tag, a device the trio conceptualised, designed and manufactured. A head-impact monitor, the g-tag is effective in measuring the impact and extent of a concussion in contact sport–related incidents such as rugby and American football. In many instances, concussions are under-diagnosed, which can easily result in brain injuries that can prove fatal in the long run—as highlighted in the 2015 Will Smith film, Concussion.
The design and manufacture of prototypes from conceptualisation to the final product, within a period of eight weeks, was a notable accomplishment for BMEC. “It set the tone for what the company is capable of achieving,” says Omar. Wilson explains: “The g-tag measures the linear and angular acceleration of the head, and this can be correlated to the likelihood of sustaining a concussion. In the process, the device measures the severity of the concussion.” The g-tag provides a visual notification to the players, coaches and field-side officials of a possible concussion incident in order to facilitate treatment for the involved athlete. “Subsequent to that development, we have been involved in a number of other creative engineering challenges for our clients, including: a non-invasive anaemia tester, an industrial ozone sanitisation system, a paediatric hospital bed, and a mechanical stovetop kettle, to name but a few.” These achievements have placed BMEC Technologies in a position to solidify its ambition of becoming a global player in the design engineering sector. How important is creativity in running this type of company? “BMEC prides itself in
Photograph by Suzy Bernstein
SA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
taking on any engineering challenge. This means we very often find ourselves solving problems that have no predefined solutions; as a result, creativity becomes the cornerstone of every project we work on,” says Smith. “What enables BMEC to solve these problems—where others have previously failed—is our multidisciplinary approach. This allows us to conceptualise all aspects of a project, which prevents the creative process from being limited by one’s discipline.” Wilson adds, “Creativity is required to develop the most ideal engineering solution when balancing the triangle of cost, time and quality. We always need to find the perfect balance of these three design input factors.” One of the company’s immediate goals is to operate internationally. “We are currently scouting for expansion opportunities in the United States and England. Our first step in doing so is to source work in those regions, which we will complete here in Cape Town,” Wilson confirms. “Our passion lies in health-related technology, and we hope to develop many of our own technologies in the years to come which will impact the social well-being of individuals globally,” says Smith, which harks back to BMEC’s motto: “Ethical, elegant engineering”.
Raymond de Vries FOUNDER AND CEO, WATER FROM AIR
For producing a water solution out of thin air
With more than 25 years’ experience in media and marketing, it would seem strange to some that Raymond de Vries would swop his communications company for one that delves in science. But it all began with a bottle at a boat race. Being involved in marketing the Dusi Canoe Marathon, the wellknown annual race held between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, De Vries was among the crowds when he saw condensation dripping off the cooldrink bottles and was fascinated by how water was produced naturally from air. “Not long after this, I heard about the technology and got extremely excited about the commercial applications and the winwin solution to mankind,” he adds. De Vries took up the challenge to create a machine that could produce water directly from natural air. “It’s not my style to build something slowly,” he says. “It became very frustrating not having the money at first. I had a customer, Peter Robinson, who loved the machines so much that he decided to invest, and this was the beginning of Water from Air.” It was only a matter of time before the second investor, Paul Raglan-Smith, came knocking to buy into the business and offer his expertise as technical director. The Water from Air machine is humidity- and temperature-driven, producing up to 32 litres of pure water per 24 hours. In areas with high
humidity, it not only acts as a water generator but also a dehumidifier. “It was a very steep gradient that required very fancy footwork, an unshakable belief and lots of hard work. In the traditional David and Goliath scenario, we are the Davids. The bad news is that the Goliaths have all the power and money; but the good news is that humanity is increasingly backing the Davids,” De Vries notes. The spirit of innovation and creativity is constantly keeping the company on its toes, while keeping the door of possibility very wide open. De Vries’s experience of working in media and marketing has taught him that plans don’t always fall into place immediately; knowing when to readjust the plan could be the difference between watching everything fall apart and eventually seeing one’s plans come to fruition. “Water is a scarce commodity, and becoming more and more scarce. The population of planet Earth has exploded and outgrown the water supply. It is as simple as that,” says De Vries. “The situation is exacerbated by climate change and ageing, outdated infrastructure. In South Africa, we have waited until the last minute to do something about this. “Harvesting water from the air is the solution: It’s pure and there’s lots of it—in fact, there’s nine times more water in the atmosphere than all the oceans of the world.”
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Play all the angles Deep VR 3D-prints its own camera rigging, which allows freedom to film almost anything, from almost any position.
Sibusiso Shabalala CEO, ADAPT IT HOLDINGS
For being intelligent about intellectual property
While employed at InfoWave as a software developer, Sbu Shabalala saw the need for a black-owned IT business that provided information management solutions. InfoWave then provided the seed capital and support services for him to create Adapt-IT in 2004. “It allowed us to concentrate on the day-to-day software delivery and less on the financial management aspects of the business,” he says. After a few years, thanks to Shabalala’s entrepreneurial prowess, the company transitioned from an SME into a thriving business with an established customer base that included public-sector entities, and secured some of the biggest ICT contracts. In November 2007, JSE-listed InfoWave Holdings and Adapt-IT
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merged to form the new entity of Adapt IT Holdings, with Shabalala serving as CEO. “The rationale for the merger was that we already had a common company. I had been the founder, and it demonstrated that I had the entrepreneurial ability and leadership ability to enable me to drive an IT company,” he says. Adapt IT Holdings delivers information-technology solutions to some of the most successful organisations in the sectors of manufacturing, financial services, education and energy in over 38 countries worldwide, to help them run their businesses more efficiently. It also provides business intelligence consulting to South Africa’s big four banks: Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank. Shabalala aims to build a South African software giant with an internationally recognisable brand and software exports. The company is well on its way to achieving this, as it has experienced remarkable surges in growth since the merger, thanks to its business model that revolves around developing its own intellectual property through making strategic acquisitions—
led mainly by Shabalala and his “chief sidekick”, financial director Tiffany Dunsdon. Acquisitions enable Adapt IT Holdings to access markets in which it previously didn’t have leverage. Some of these include Aquilon (an oil and gas consultancy), CQS Investment Holdings (a niche audit, financial and risk management software service provider), AspiviaUnison (a cloud telecoms intelligence and management solutions provider) and Swicon360 (a business-process outsourcing service provider). “South Africa is crying out for a company that develops intellectual property that is resalable offshore,” notes Shabalala. “There are too many local companies customising international software, or simply selling services.” Adapt IT’s model is infinitely scalable, which keeps costs down. Its software is easy to instal and support can be rendered to companies in any country. In future, Shabalala says, Adapt IT will target the health as well as IT security sectors. “I believe there is a gap for local IP here. We can then sell it in Africa and beyond.”
Ulrico Grech-Cumbo & Telmo dos Reis FOUNDERS, DEEP VR
For taking video to a new reality
When a client asked Ulrico Grech-Cumbo if it were possible to film in 360 degrees and play back the video in an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, he didn’t know—but he said “yes”. And so was born the idea for a 360x3D camera and Deep VR. Grech-Cumbo, in staying true to a vow he made to himself at age 16—after lasting only three hours running someone else’s pizza restaurant— had no intention of working for anyone but himself. He has since founded and managed three companies, including Deep VR in 2015. Co-founder Telmo dos Reis also has previous ventures under his belt, having founded The SoundScapes and ProCapture, specialising in audio and video content, respectively. The two first met when ProCapture started working with Grech-Cumbo’s Ambrosia, a brand agency that aims to give advertising a new perspective by making use of unconventional marketing techniques. Now with Deep VR, they have introduced a new form of digital marketing, with the use of innovative technology. Having developed unique camera systems to produce mono- and stereo cinematic VR content, Deep VR specialises in creating a more engaging brand story for
clients to deliver to consumers. “The true power of VR marketing is that you make people empathetic to the content and really connect to it, unlike regular video and audio formats,” explains Dos Reis. The company 3D-prints its own camera rigging, which allows freedom to film almost anything, from almost any position. Deep VR has also introduced a new division dedicated to virtual-reality wildlife documentaries, and plans to introduce VR to the tourism and real estate industries soon. “We’re going to see homes sold without ever being physically visited, and we’re going to see safari packages to South Africa being sold from Times Square demos,” GrechCumbo says with enthusiasm. “The biggest learning is how much application there really is. We never thought—and honestly never really intended—for the technology to have such a wide scope of use.” Deep VR is already leading in 360° content creation in South Africa, and aims to be one of the top three live-action VR content companies in the world within the next five years, say the founders. They will surely continue to push boundaries as the technology evolves.
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Sam Moima TOP SUSHI CHEF, OCEAN BASKET
For being a different kettle of fish
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Sam Moima’s life story is a testament to the fact that where you come from doesn’t have to determine where you are going. The Limpopo-born chef has defied the odds and secured his position as a top sushi chef at one of South Africa’s best-loved seafood restaurant chains. When he first came to Johannesburg in 2001, he got a job as a security guard—but he knew he wanted more from life. While working as a waiter at an Ocean Basket franchise, the would-be chef discovered sushi for the first time, witnessing people happily indulging
in ‘raw fish’. “Even though it was raw, I admired how beautiful it looked when the chef served it. I just instantly fell in love with it, and I remember saying to myself: I want to learn how to make a beautiful sushi dish,” he recalls. Moima soon joined the Ocean Basket in-training programme and for four months he would come to work before his shifts, and stay afterward to train. Despite not having much experience in the kitchen, especially with seafood, he proved to be a fast learner. He attributes this to his mentor, the head sushi chef at the time, who
subsequently entrusted him in his position when the latter took a month’s leave. Moima proved he could fill those big shoes. As a result, he was posted as sole sushi chef at a new Ocean Basket branch in Alberton in 2006. “That’s where I made my name. Customers started coming back just for ‘Sam’s sushi’,” he says with pride. Already having earned his stripes as a budding chef, Moima was invited on a week-long trip to Japan as part of further Ocean Basket training awarded only to selected chefs. At the Japanese International Sushi School in Tokyo, they were trained by sushi master Pepi Anevski: international head of sushi for Ocean Basket, who is certified by the All Japan Sushi Association and the World Sushi Skills Institute, and a Sushi World Cup holder. Moima was able to expand his sushi expertise and adopt a new respect for the dish. How has being a sushi chef unlocked his creative side? “By taking the basics I’ve been taught and trying to make something new and different with them, I have discovered that I enjoy experimenting,” says Moima. “Also, I’m always trying to be a better chef, which has resulted in my being more focused on ideas and quality.” This year, Ocean Basket introduced its exclusive ‘Mediterrasian’ sushi, created by Anevski. Moima explains it is “a unique fusion sushi comprising Mediterranean flavours with traditional Asian creations— resulting in more options or flavours in sushi, like pickled red onion in crunchy Athena roll; pickled carrots, tomato and basil leaf; and lemon-flavoured salmon.” The kind of experimentation that’s right up his alley. “There’s definitely still more to come, as we want to make Ocean Basket the best place to go when people think of seafood or sushi. So keep checking Ocean Basket’s menu, because that’s where I’m putting all my creativity later in the year,” Moima promises.
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Grant Rushmere & Richard Bowsher FOUNDERS, BOS BRANDS
For giving the beverage industry a South
Everyone’s cup of (ice) tea Bowsher says BOS Brands has the capacity to unlock the global potential of South Africa’s unique resource and heritage—rooibos.
Two seasoned entrepreneurs came together through their love of a South African plant—and went bos! The result was BOS Brands, and its range of organic, ready-to-drink rooibos ice teas, sports drinks and teabags. The two co-founders both had successful businesses under their belt before launching BOS in 2010. Rushmere sold his first company Afro Coffee to another major beverage manufacturer, Red Bull. Bowsher left his Streaming Media Inc. startup in the US and started the Klipopmekaar organic, environmentally conscious rooibos tea farm and private nature reserve in the Cederberg. With the latter’s ideal source of rooibos, the two innovators set out to create a company that embodied the South African experience in a product range that would entice both local and international markets. Creating a new beverage business is undoubtedly a difficult task, considering the market is largely dominated by multinational corporations that own a huge chunk of the retail market. However, Rushmere and Bowsher were never put off by these giants; instead, they took up the challenge and pushed themselves to be creative about the type of product they wanted to create and how they would position it in the market. Fast-forward six years, and BOS has become a very popular lifestyle beverage. Made with organic rooibos, the ice teas are
available in six flavours, with an energy and sparkling variant. “While developing the Afro brand, I worked extensively with rooibos, blending it with all sorts of different flavours,” says Rushmere. “I realised that its natural sweetness makes it the perfect carrier for fruit flavours. With its healthy, healing properties being increasingly recognised locally and internationally, the obvious choice was to start with rooibos and build the product from there.” The founders wanted to emphasise the ‘Africanness’ of the product, so for the slim-line packaging they drew on mythology from San, Egyptian and West African tribes—using strong symbols such as the lion and Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, on a backdrop of bold African colours. In this way, the packaging epitomises a modern take on an age-old culture, which is what BOS is all about, they say. Not only has the brand successfully negotiated its position in South Africa— BOS is sold in more than 1 000 delis, supermarkets and restaurants around the country—but it is also making its mark on the international market. BOS was launched in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2013, and two years later it expanded to Singapore and the rest of South East Asia. There are plans to sell the products in
other African countries as well. BOS got a ‘competitive’ edge in 2014 with the launch of its sports/energy drink range. It contains an unprocessed fruit extract, FRUIT UP™, which reduces the quantity of processed sugar used in the drink while still achieving sustained energy release. The products seem to be enticing not only avid consumers but also some serious international backers. Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson bought a 10% stake in the company, with the early-stage venture investment arm of Remgro Limited, Invenfin, securing 20%. In striving to be an ethically managed business, from farm to table, BOS launched the mobile VR app, BOSify Your World. It allows customers to plant virtual trees that contribute to real trees being planted in under-greened schools, crèches and community centres in South Africa through the Greenpop initiative. BOS has committed to planting and maintaining one tree for every 2 000 cans or packs of ice tea sold. “BOS has the capacity to make a significant contribution to unlocking the global potential of our unique resource and heritage—namely rooibos tea,” says Bowsher.
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Elmien Smit FOUNDER, RUNWAY SALE
For sticking with her business design
As a first-time entrepreneur, trying to execute a concept that was new to the South African market proved to be a very challenging task— especially when seasoned companies were cutting their losses after attempting a similar business model. For Elmien Smit (an SA Most Creative Person in Business for 2015) and her business partner, the clarity of their vision was too strong for them to let it simply slide without a dedicated attempt. “The idea was to create a marketplace for brand partners and tech-savvy consumers. It was a popular concept internationally; however, with very limited backing, we were faced with a huge cloud of doubt during the early stages,” says Smit about the birthing pains of Runway Sale, their members-only flash sale website for designer clothes. “Once we set the wheels in motion, we tackled every challenge we were faced with, ranging from being innovative about how we attracted the right brand partners (which was very difficult to do), to putting together a perfectly aligned team to assist us.” Once the company overcame its first hurdle, the partners were thrown another challenge of fulfilling the requests made by their customers—which kept multiplying as the online store became more popular. The constantly increasing number of orders were ideal for the newly formed enterprise, but this
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could also have had a negative effect, had the team not adapted as quickly as they did, says Smit. “We had to double our efforts and be very creative about how we dealt with every surge of growth, by reverting to the basic principle of hard work— which meant very long hours.” The Runway Sale team prides itself in creating a unique company culture that allows employees to feel the direct impact of their contribution to the progress of the business; this makes them feel like they’re part of the experience the
company provides—and pushes them to excel at their own roles. The online store trades in big designer brands such as Madison, Juicy Couture, Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger, Lyle & Scott, among others, as well as cosmetics brands such as NYX and L’amour Beauty. “We didn’t have funds in the beginning, as do a lot of e-commerce sites, so we employed a strategy of spending huge amounts of money in many different areas in the hope that something stuck,” Smith explains. “Using all the data at our disposal,
we had to use a different strategy— and that meant being accountable for every rand spent while guaranteeing a progressive return on investment.” Launched in May 2012, and initially run out of a spare bedroom, the Runway Sale website currently boasts a staff complement of 50plus, with operating bases in three South African cities. However, Smith says: “We are not getting lost in a five-year plan. We are flexible and open to opportunities as they pop up.”
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Lara Rosmarin EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SEED ACADEMY
For making other people’s startups her business
Luvuyo Rani CO-FOUNDER AND MD, SILULO ULUTHO TECHNOLOGIES FOUNDER, EKASI BUSINESS NETWORK
For bringing tech to the townships For a company that was started out of the boot of a Corsa Lite, Silulo Ulutho Technologies is doing great things in the townships of South Africa.
The Seed Academy is fast becoming one of the most exciting tech accelerators in the country, pursuing its vision of identifying and nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship that’s necessary for creating employment in South Africa. “Entrepreneurship for me is unbalanced, uneven, lopsided, unhinged and unequal; for me, there’s magic in this mix,” says executive director Lara Rosmarin. The self-titled “Game Changer” and an SA Most Creative Person in Business for 2015, believes in the importance of creating the necessary platforms that can assist entrepreneurs in realising their business dreams. “In the space of
Teacher-turned-entrepreneur Luvuyo Rani is not only connecting underprivileged communities to the World Wide Web but also giving aspiring businesspeople a leg-up to succeed at their own IT ventures. Silulo Ulutho—which means “we bring value (through technology)”—has grown from a simple Internet café and training centre into a national operation with branches in townships around the Western and Eastern Cape, dedicated to providing affordable computer classes, technical support, as well as branding and signage services. It has teamed up with companies such as Telkom and Canon, among others, to aid in this endeavour.
entrepreneurship, innovation is vital; as a team, we are constantly looking for gaps in the market that require an intervention, and imbalances in our thinking which, when addressed, would create a richer offering for the entrepreneurs.” Starting a business that looks to help kick-start others was never going to be an easy task. Rosmarin and her team were fully aware of this uphill battle. “Creating our niche in a market that was already dominated by successful players was a challenge. How were we going to differentiate ourselves? As entrepreneurs, we wear many hats,” she says. “I wanted our business to offer an exceptional service, but it was essential for me that we had soul.” The Seed Academy provides potential entrepreneurs with practical, execution-style training and mentorship with goals of launching or dramatically improving their business. All courses are taught by successful entrepreneurs and are focused on each student’s specific business idea. This personalised approach provides maximum value while giving the venture its best chance for success. The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is one successful initiative in which
The 42-year-old believes strongly in the potential of the township economy, and is constantly looking for innovative ways to create profitable channels while developing black communities in the process. His company has developed a very effective franchise model, with three options, that helps kick-start other entrepreneurs who are driven to make a social impact while operating a profitable business. Of the more than 30 branches, seven are franchised and run by former graduates of Silulo’s IT training programme. Rani’s efforts and pioneering spirit have not gone unnoticed. Also a 2015 SA Most Creative Person in Business, he was honoured at this year’s World Economic Forum
the Seed Academy is involved, in collaboration with the City of Johannesburg (specifically its Department of Economic Development), Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, and tech giant IBM. It is a competition for innovative entrepreneurs to solve challenges faced by the citizens of Jozi, by developing the best digital solutions to everyday problems in public spaces, smart infrastructure and economic development, among others. “The initiative sourced and trained 125 entrepreneurs, and facilitated an acceleration-type challenge to identify the top 10 startups,” Rosmarin reveals. The finalists then participated in a month-long process run by the Seed Academy, consisting of intensive business training, technical hackathons and a demo day where winners demonstrated their business value proposition. Rosmarin says the support of her network of mentors is partly responsible for the company having scaled so progressively over its three years of existence. “Logically, we know that it is nearly impossible to be a balanced entrepreneur, having everything in perfect order.”
(WEF) on Africa as one of the Schwab Foundation’s 2016 Social Entrepreneurs of the Year. He joins the world’s largest network of latestage social enterprises affiliated with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship (sister organisation of the WEF). This will surely help him engage with and learn from other continental and global entrepreneurs. Rani also established the Ekasi Business Network: a platform that serves as a channel to connect, develop and inspire trade between entrepreneurs in the townships. Launched in 2011, the network forum meets every month, with business owners from within and outside townships sharing their success stories and challenges.
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Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli CREATIVE DIRECTORS, VALENTINO
For turning a storied fashion house into a R15-billion juggernaut
Since taking Valentino’s reins in 2008, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have reinvigorated the Rome-based brand, which nearly doubled its profit last year on revenue of more than $1 billion (R15.5 billion, with IPO rumours flying). Their strategy relies on careful balance—spiky metal studs and soft-edged elegance; love for the past and an embrace of the future.
How do you describe your vision for Valentino? CHIURI: We are really proud of our heritage. But at the same time, we want to evolve. We introduce many different elements. In each woman and each man, there is something different. We want people to use our style in their personal way. PICCIOLI: What we deliver is something that is authentic and close to our idea of beauty—effortless elegance. Rome is such a beautiful city. You can see lots of layers: the imperial Rome, the baroque, the Catholic, the cinematic aspect of Fellini. Everything lives together in a very special way. You don’t feel the effort. Everything is layered. Memory is in
the present, but it is not nostalgic. The past is part of our present. You’ve said that your first few seasons at the helm of Valentino were “horrible”. What changed? CHIURI: We had to learn to express ourselves. In the past, we were designers. We never had to describe why we had to make a dress in this way or that way. For me, I am very shy. It was so difficult. It’s still not easy today. PICCIOLI: You have to deliver a vision of beauty. You have to be aware of what you are saying to make people understand. We had to learn to communicate in a universal language. What are the biggest changes facing the fashion marketplace today—and how are you responding? CHIURI: [With] the Internet—Instagram, websites—everything goes so fast. Now you can see a show immediately, in other parts of the world. At the same time, we want to maintain our values. So we work like in the past. We believe that for a luxury brand, time is a value.
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To do things in a way that is special, we need time. PICCIOLI: It’s important to stay close to who you are and what you want to say, [to] use social media to deliver the message, not change the language itself. You need identity. You need your memory. If you lose who you are, you are lost in the world. Fashion is still a community of people who deliver messages. Fashion is not only about clothes—it is about what is beyond clothes. It is about culture. You’ve worked together since 1989, starting at Fendi. What makes your partnership work so well—and do you have advice for other collaborators? CHIURI: Every relationship needs respect. It’s important to maintain differences. Difference is a value, not a defect. You can argue. You make your point of view more strong. PICCIOLI: Every relationship needs a moment to argue and to fight! CHIURI: Many people ask us that. Maybe people want a fairy tale, but we are not a fairy tale. We are people! PICCIOLI: Sometimes life is more interesting than a fairy tale. —Jeff Chu
Photograph by Dean Kaufman
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Valentino’s Chiuri, left, and Picciolo are longtime creative partners. “It’s important to maintain your differences,” Chiuri says.
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Super Social Media Stars For creating and curating the most
COMMUNITY DIRECTOR, IMGUR
Alex Chung and Adam Leibsohn CEO AND COO, GIPHY
VP OF CONTENT, SNAPCHAT
on the Internet
Illustration by Alëna Skarina
Imgur, a seven-year-old image-hosting website (founded by Sarah Schaaf’s brother, Alan), is one of the most-visited sites on the Internet, with 150 million monthly active users who post a trillion pictures and GIFs to the platform yearly—which are all organised and searchable for optimal sharing. It boasts 75 billion monthly views and native-ad deals with PlayStation, Old Spice and Budweiser.
Giphy is a three-year-old search engine for GIFs that also lets users create and upload their own; half a trillion have been posted to the site. “GIFs are so much more effective at communicating than words,” Leibsohn says. “They are faster and translate universally.” In 2015, Giphy had 95 million unique monthly visitors, quadruple the previous year’s number.
Sixty percent of 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users are on the ephemeral-videosharing platform, with snaps viewed more than 8 billion times a day. In 2014, Snapchat launched Live Stories, curating snaps for the site’s 100 million daily users. The year-old Discover platform has partnered with 20 news and entertainment outlets to create customised content for the app.
Schaaf is often described as the queen of the “Imgurians”, as users call themselves, monitoring comments and enforcing community guidelines while “figuring out what is going to be the new joke or meme bubbling up,” she says. After noticing that community members were eager to meet up in person, she organised Camp Imgur last August in Mendocino, California for 500 Imgurians. Users send her comments and gifts. (She’s received piles of bananas and tonnes of Silly Putty.)
Chung runs the tech and product branches, helping users and brands create, find and share GIFs quickly and easily. Leibsohn runs the media and business sides, building platform partnerships with the likes of Slack and Facebook and contentpartnership relationships with thousands of TV networks, film studios, music labels, political campaigns and celebrities. (He oversees a team of staffers who live– GIF big cultural moments like the Super Bowl.)
Bell sets the editorial agenda, overseeing Live and Discover. “We have cameras at some of the most interesting places and events in the world—all sharing their perspectives with our team and, in turn, the whole Snapchat community,” he says. “We wanted to take the best of traditional journalism and translate it to mobile.” He’s been careful to bring on only Discover partners who understand Snapchat’s storytelling aesthetic; publishers, meanwhile, compete for the chance to be seen by Snapchat’s audience.
Meme Claim to Fame
Schaff leads Imgur’s annual April Fools’ Day pranks. Last year, she blindly matched users’ photos to other users’ captions, resulting in 55 272 terrible but occasionally hilarious posts. One involved an image of Severus Snape from Harry Potter describing his incontinence problems.
Giphy live–GIFed the 2016 Academy Awards and captured a clip of Leonardo DiCaprio’s face as he heard his name read as the Best Actor winner; it went viral immediately. Another that spread quickly was Nicki Minaj calling out Miley Cyrus at the MTV Music Awards saying, “Miley, what’s good?”
Bell’s team curated a live stream of snaps from the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca last year, with millions of users sharing what they were seeing. It was a fresh way to cover a rite followed around the world. More than a million people also tuned in to a fiveminute-long Live Story about prayers in the sacred city.
In 2015, Imgur launched a mobile app—making it even easier for users to browse, comment, favourite and upvote images.
The company’s new mobile app, GIPHY Cam, lets users easily scroll through the Internet’s largest library of GIFs on their phone and also create their own. The service was voted one of Apple’s top 25 apps of 2015.
In a Live Story during the San Bernardino, California shooting, curators selected snaps from users nearby and overlaid text to explain what was happening. This instantly transformed Snapchat into a source of developing news, inspiring a broader news strategy.
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Cindy Holland VICE PRESIDENT OF ORIGINAL CONTENT, NETFLIX
For offering viewers a lot more to binge on
This year, Netflix has doubled its amount of original programming, cranking out some 600 hours of new series and movies that it hopes will attract ever more subscribers. Cindy Holland is in charge of curating all that content. With a sizable piece of Netflix’s $6-billion (more than R90billion) annual budget, she has already green-lighted projects such as Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama The Get Down, about the birth of hip hop (due this August); a new sitcom created by cult comedian Maria Bamford called Lady Dynamite; and Chelsea Handler’s bold, threetimes-a-week talk show, Chelsea. Those will follow recent successes like truecrime phenomenon Making a Murderer and Aziz Ansari’s critical hit, Master of None. Given her giant pocketbook and near-endless array of content options, how does Holland decide what to pursue? In part, by looking at the company’s reams of user data. “That helps us identify the kinds of things our viewers are interested in watching. We definitely blend the art with the science.”
Dawn Shaughnessy PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, HEAV Y ELEMENT GROUP, LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABOR ATORY
For getting elemental
Illustration by Harry Campbell
John McDonough PRESIDENT AND CEO, T2 BIOSYSTEMS
For saving lives by saving time One of John McDonough’s first acts after taking the helm of the med-tech startup T2 Biosystems was to ask clinicians across the country what diagnostic
In December 2015, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry added three new entries to the periodic table of elements that had been synthesised by a team of researchers co-led by nuclear chemist, Dawn Shaughnessy. Partnering with the Joint Institute
for Nuclear Research in Russia, the group has discovered five new “superheavy” elements since 1999, bearing the atomic numbers 114 to 118. This is no simple feat: Superheavy elements aren’t found in nature— and creating them, in a cyclotron, requires preci-
tool they needed the most. The resounding answer: a faster and more accurate test for sepsis infections, one of the most common causes of death at hospitals. The key to treating sepsis is quickly identifying the strain of bacteria or fungus (which is more deadly) behind the infection. Most health systems still do this via a blood culture, a centuryold technology that only detects the infectious agent in about 60% of patients with sepsis, and
sion, brute force and lots of luck. These elements all decay within an hour (sometimes milliseconds), but physicists theorise that still-heavier elements could be chemically stable and may possess remarkable properties such as extreme strength or conductivity, which could have
typically takes between two and five days. McDonough’s team turned to magnetics instead, spending seven years to develop a process that releases magnetic particles— which have been primed to bind with five different species of fungus—into a blood sample. If the binding occurs, the magnetic properties of the blood’s water molecules will change. “We look for that binding event,” McDonough says. “And we can pick it up early, before the [septic] shock sets in.” The test, called T2Candida (after the killer fungus strains it can identify), works in under three hours and detects the pathogen in more than 90% of patients with fungal sepsis. T2Candida was approved by the FDA in 2014, and is already being used in 30 of the largest US hospitals. Now McDonough is bringing it to developing nations, where sepsis is rife, and working to get regulatory approval for a slew of new tests based on the same technology (and compatible with the same equipment), including assessments for blood clots, bacterial sepsis and Lyme disease.
applications in fields from aerospace to medicine to energy. “The discovery of superheavy elements forces us to rethink how matter is held together,” she says. “If we can push out to 119, 120 and beyond, it’s a little freaky to think about what might be done with these elements.”
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CO-FOUNDER, SHE LEADS AFRICA
VICE PRESIDENT, GLOBAL CATEGORY CREATIVE DIRECTOR, NIKE
For developing female entrepreneurs across Africa
For stretching Nike in new directions
The value of private-equity funds invested in Africa grew by 126% from 2014 to 2015, to $4.3 billion (R68 billion). But as Yasmin BeloOsagie, a former McKinsey consultant raised in Nigeria, surveyed entrepreneurial opportunities for African women, she saw an overwhelming emphasis on thinking small: microfinance, microbusinesses, microprogress. “I know smart, dynamic women who want to start medium and even large businesses, who want to end up in senior leadership,” she says. She Leads Africa, which Belo-Osagie co-founded in 2014, has helped nurture hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs, with support from Intel, GTBank, Huawei and Etisalat. Its most recent pitch competition drew more than 1 000 applications from 37 countries. Last year, Belo-Osagie took five entrepreneurs to China to meet with female venture capitalists and large-business founders. She recently launched an accelerator programme with Oxfam and VC4Africa, and will host her professional boot camp, the SheHive, in six cities including Johannesburg and Lagos, Nigeria. In many African countries, sexism “is so blatant”, Belo-Osagie says. “People will say to your face: ‘Of course women can’t run big businesses.’ ” Her goal is to prove them wrong.
Baba Ramdev CO-FOUNDER, PATANJALI AYURVED
For disrupting India’s R775-billion consumer packaged goods market Yoga guru Baba Ramdev—the force behind a 10-year-old consumer brand called Patanjali Ayurved, which makes everything from spices to soap to cosmetics—has found a killer new pose. The company expanded its product line this past year and is challenging global firms like Procter & Gamble and Unilever. (Its new whole-wheat
noodles, for example, are giving Nestlé’s Maggi brand—the market leader for three decades—a run for its money.) Named after an ancient yoga saint, Patanjali touts natural ingredients and is priced at 30% to 75% below its rivals. “People trust me and know that I will never sell substandard products,” says Ramdev, who is the face of the
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brand (co-founder Acharya Balkrishna is the majority owner). Annual sales grew 150% in 2015 to $750 million (R11.8 billion), despite Ramdev’s insistence on minimal marketing. The brand is so popular that it commands unheard-of advance payment from retailers and premium store displays. Now Ramdev plans to take Patanjali global—a first for an Indian consumer brand.
In 2015, 18-year Nike veteran Martin Lotti introduced the company’s first-ever line of soccer cleats (or boots) made especially for women, and created the sleek uniforms that the winning US women’s soccer team wore at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. He also took the technology behind Nike’s most unconventional line of boots and modified it for apparel, so that instead of using lasers to perforate fabric, Nike knits breathable panels from scratch. And using a new, textured yarn, Lotti helped develop a more aerodynamic fabric that US athletes will wear at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
Last year, you went from overseeing one sport—soccer—to several: running, basketball, baseball, tennis and more. How does that affect your creative approach? The starting point is the same: the voice of the athletes. We look at the problems they identify, and we solve them. People may think we just use athletes for advertising, but they’re even more important for their insights.
What led to the hightop soccer cleats you developed for men, and then for the US women’s team? The top is essentially a sock. The athletes were telling us they didn’t want to feel [the] boots, almost as if they’re playing barefoot, like kids. So we used Fly knit [Nike’s precision knitting technology] to make a boot that fits like a sock—a sock with studs. How do you make team uniforms distinctive? In global events like the World Cup, the uniform is like a country’s flag. But we find ways to infuse soulful details. For the US women, on the inside of the jersey, we put an inscription: we can • we will • we are. It’s on the back of the crest, over the heart, just for the players. Are we going to sell more jerseys because of it? No. But it’s important for athletes to have an emotional connection to their garments. For a designer, that’s higher ground. What’s the key to inspiring creativity? I take my team to explore different worlds. If you design footwear, we won’t look at footwear. At one point, we looked at a golf ball and asked, “Why does it have dimples?” That led to the new AeroBlades technology at the Olympics. You’d think a smooth garment would be faster. But a textured dimension, like the ball’s dimples, creates turbulence that cuts through the air and makes you faster. —Chuck Salter
Photograph by Benedict Evans
Nike creative director Lotti has developed soccer ‘boots’ so light that athletes feel as if they’re playing barefoot.
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway and Kate Roberts FOUNDERS, THE MAVERICK COLLECTIVE
For applying the VC model to philanthropy
“It was overwhelming, actually,” recalls Kate Roberts, CEO of the philanthropic initiative, the Maverick Collective, of the emotions that flooded in when she gave birth to her daughter in 2011. As a senior vice president at the nonprofit Population Services International (PSI), she knew the challenges women face all over the world, including gender-based violence and lack of access to contraception. And she knew that despite all the rhetoric about investing in women, just two cents of every development dollar actually goes toward programmes for girls. The following year, Roberts accompanied Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, a long-time HIV/Aids activist and also a mother of a young daughter, on a visit to a PSI project in New Delhi. The two had met in passing at conferences, but grew close as they toured the city’s slums and hospitals, meeting with women affected by HIV and tuberculosis. “We talked a lot about the need to put major resources behind girls and women,” says Roberts. “We got very emotional about it.” They decided that if the current model for philanthropy wasn’t working to lift girls out of poverty, they needed to create something new, combining Roberts’s development and marketing experience—plus access to PSI’s 9 000 employees across 65 countries—with the crown princess’s international clout and track record of giving voice to those in need. They devised a strategy to enlist women (who were able to invest at least $1 million [around R15 billion] each) to run innovative pilot programmes, though Roberts makes sure to point out the organisation “is not a club for rich women.” The focus on private capital was strategic: Traditional funders typically need to see results before they’ll pour money into something. “Private money is less risk-averse,” says the crown princess. This freedom would allow the collective to gamble on experimental ideas. The crown princess discussed the idea with Melinda Gates, who joined their effort as co-chair. “It seemed like it might inspire people,” Gates says. Soon, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded PSI $5 million (R78 million) over five years to turn the notion into a reality. Since then, the founding members—14 women, aged 26 to 72—have invested $19.8 million (R309 million) of their personal
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Photograph by Nadav Kander
Maverick Collective CEO Roberts, left, and her co-founder, Crown Princess MetteMarit, insist that donors invest their human capital.
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develop amazing ideas that solve the problem.” As part of her project, she sent three groups out into Tanzanian villages to conduct research; all came back with the same realisation: Girls were paying for taxi rides with sexual favours. Scott helped devise a free taxi service operated for girls, by girls. “It was an insight on Tuesday, an idea on Wednesday, and by Thursday we had a woman-driven taxi out in the village,” Scott recalls. Her work helped PSI secure a $30-million (R468-million) grant from the Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Before Scott signed on to become a Maverick, she was sceptical. Did PSI really want her thoughts, and not just her money? Would she be allowed the autonomy to brainstorm and implement ideas? Others had similar questions, so Roberts allowed potential members to interview people on the inside at PSI: board members, scientists, the technical team. Scott was satisfied. “I thought, I should take a go at this,” she says. Both the crown princess and Melinda Gates attend workshops with donors to share their knowledge. “The founding members don’t want to be held at arm’s length,” Roberts says. “They know when we encounter cost overruns or roadblocks, and they help find solutions.” Many of these women have never worked in development before; PSI offers training in navigating the grant process, communicating with donors, and public speaking. As Roberts says, “This is an executivemanagement course in saving the world.” On May 16, the Maverick Collective made its public debut at the Women Deliver Conference, in Copenhagen. Meanwhile, Roberts and the crown princess are busy scouring the world for a new wave of Mavericks—which may even include a few men. “Money doesn’t create change,” Roberts says. “People do.” —Jessica Hullinger
Maverick founding member Pam Scott, far left, consults with young women in Tanzania on a pilot programme designed to combat unintended pregnancy.
“Private money is less riskaverse,” says the crown princess. This freedom allows the collective to gamble on experimental ideas.
funds in their respective projects, which span 13 countries. Members help design and oversee three-year projects that test new products or services for girls and women in developing countries. If successful, these models are pitched as larger-scale programmes to PSI’s bigger donors including the Gates Foundation and the US Agency for International Development. The collective has been responsible for attracting $60 million (R937 million) for new health resources for girls. “We know that health is the most basic [way] out of extreme poverty,” Roberts says. “If you’re not healthy, you can’t go to school or work. It’s the core of everything.” The founding members were selected by Roberts and the crown princess, and recruited individually. Each worked with PSI experts to identify two or three impact areas that aligned with her interests and zeroed in on a geographical location to target. They visited the local community to better understand its needs and challenges. For the crown princess, this connection between donor and recipient is integral for creating projects that actually work. “[If] you find something that resonates deeply within a person,” she says, “you unlock the potential in a much more long-term and sustainable way.” Founding member Kathryn Vizas, a former litigation attorney for companies including Levi Strauss & Co., travelled to Myanmar in 2013 with Roberts, the crown princess, and the director of global programme advocacy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There, she spent time with a woman dying of cervical cancer, a disease that is, in many cases, preventable. Because one out of every five women who have the disease is Indian, and PSI has a network of health centres in India, Vizas launched a ‘screen-and-treat’ project in northern India that trains health providers to look for signs of cancerous cells and remove them immediately. So far, her programme has screened 45 000 women, treated 2 000, and educated more than 170 000. But it hasn’t been easy. “I am now very aware of the difficulties convincing not only women patients in India, who feel perfectly healthy and do not understand why they should spend even a little money to be screened, but also the doctors who care for them, to make the test routine everywhere,” Vizas explains. The government in the state of Uttar Pradesh is currently scaling the approach to 28 additional districts with the goal of bringing it to all 75 of them. Each Maverick member brings her own problemsolving skills into play. For example, Pam Scott, founder of research and branding firm, the Curious Company, is using her experience to address unintended pregnancy in Tanzania. “Because I practise human-centred design, it was important that [PSI] not come to me with a programme that had been all figured out,” Scott says. “My expertise lies in doing the research, figuring out the design opportunities, writing creative briefs, and working with teams to
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What was your approach to making a new Rocky movie? The series has definitely had its ups and downs. The Rocky movies each have their own tone, so it was really a case of establishing what our tone was. With this movie, we were looking for [something] more realistic and grounded. [Our culture] right now has a lot in common with the ’70s—when the first Rocky was made—in terms of the cynicism and coming out of a recession and a really long war. We leaned into that. I also wanted to make a movie about what me and my dad were going through, and my dad’s favourite character was Rocky. It was kind of an allegory for us.
Ryan Coogler DIRECTOR
For being a knockout filmmaker
Though he’s directed just two feature films—the 2013 indie hit Fruitvale Station, the true story of an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a police officer in 2009; and last year’s Rocky sequel,
Creed—Ryan Coogler is quickly turning into a Hollywood heavy-weight. Creed earned more than $110 million (R1.7 billion) at the US box office and copious critical acclaim. Now Coogler is gearing up to tackle a Marvel superhero movie, Black Panther, due in theatres in 2018.
Unlike the other Rocky films, the central character in Creed, Adonis, is African American. It seems like the movie has turned out to be meaningful to that audience. I have a lot of friends with young black sons, and after they watched the movie, they’d
currently in private beta, offers artists access to thousands of hours of footage—from films, TV shows and Jones’s personal library of exclusive interviews with musicians including Tupac and Lil Wayne—all for free. In return for licensing their
copyrighted material to the site, content owners (including Universal Studios and Reuters) are guaranteed a percentage of earnings as reuse accrues if it goes viral or is picked up for professional purposes. “Most of the people we’ve talked to, including
send us video of their kids boxing and punching pillows in the house and sticking their arms up. I didn’t expect that— and just like with Rocky, it’s people from all over and all cultures who love Adonis. Your next film is Marvel’s Black Panther, which stars Get On Up’s Chadwick Boseman as a masked hero named T’Challa who avenges the death of his father. How do you make sure it works as a Marvel project, but still bears your creative stamp? It’s a challenge, [but] I’m obsessed with this character and this story. It’s going to be my most personal movie to date, which is crazy to say but is completely the case. The day I learnt I was going to be making the movie, I went to the old comic-book shop I used to go to when I was in elementary school. I gave them the news that I was going to be doing it, and I bought some Black Panther comic books. —Dan Solomon
Quincy Jones III FOUNDER, WEMASH
For fostering harmony between mashup artists and copyright holders
Quincy Jones III has been repurposing copyrighted material since the early 1980s, when he used old soul records to make beats as a hip hop producer. In February, he created a new way to involve content owners in the process. WeMash, a video platform
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the movie studios, have had their libraries exploited on every platform,” says Jones. “Putting [clips] on WeMash is a passive income generator that’s repopularising the content, exposing it to different audiences based on what it’s mashed up with.”
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Ida Tin CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, CLUE
For going with the flow “There’s a sense that [menstruation] is a little bit embarrassing, so it should be secret or something to put a lock on,” says Ida Tin, founder of the period- and ovulation-tracking app Clue. “It shouldn’t feel like that. We wanted it to be playful.” Fans are drawn to the functionality and sophisticated design of the three-year-old app, which analyses users’ menstrual-cycle data to help with family planning or to just predict and monitor symptoms. Clue avoids pink colours and floral motifs in favour of knowing touches such as
an image of grey clouds to represent days when users may expect PMS. At the same time, Clue is generating a trove of useful information, which the Berlin-based company is sharing with researchers at Stanford, Columbia and Oxford universities to glean insights into women’s health (the data is all anonymised, and users can opt out). Though there are other apps in the space, Clue is the category leader, with more than 4 million active users—thanks, in part, to the deal Tin made in 2014 to integrate it into Apple’s HealthKit app. Now, the company is researching how to make Clue available on low-end feature phones, which would help women in developing nations with family planning.
Dylan Field CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, FIGMA
For redrawing digital design Michael S. Smith II CO-FOUNDER AND COO, KRONOS ADVISORY
For helping to hack the bad guys Somewhere online, ISIS is plotting its next atrocity, and antiterrorism expert Michael S. Smith is helping facilitate the effort to figure out what exactly they’re talking about. In his spare time, the
co-founder of intelligence firm Kronos Advisory — which provides research and analysis to the federal government—is acting as liaison between US officials and the unpaid hacktivists who are trying to infiltrate terrorists’ various forms of digital communication. This new brand of ‘open-source intelligence’, where anonymous members of collectives such as Ghost Security Group and CtrlSec work indirectly on behalf
of the government, is already having a genuine impact. Smith says that intelligence gathered as a result of the collaboration has helped prevent attacks abroad, including one plot that was foiled in Tunisia last year. “It’s about knowing the enemy,” says Smith. “You have to be thinking about how they are going to be taking their relatively limited set of resources and applying those to achieve very big results.”
Last December, software developer Dylan Field released Figma, a browser-based collaborativedesign tool intended to improve on Adobe’s industry-dominating Photoshop. With Field’s technically impressive platform, multiple users can edit the same graphic and track their workflow in a single web-based platform— something no other professional design software had attempted. Field says that before he launched, he decided to limit the number of new customers to ensure Figma’s servers could keep up. After the developer suggested on Twitter that he’d let people skip the waiting list if they asked permission in an inventive way, he received requests spelled out in kitchen-magnet letters, GIFs and cat photos. “When you tell designers to be creative,” he says, “they really follow through.”
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Gabriella Gomez-Mont DIRECTOR, LABOR ATORIO PAR A LA CIUDAD
For letting us all be digital
CO-FOUNDER AND ART DIRECTOR, MEDIA MOLECULE
For modernising As one of the visionaries behind video-game developer Media Molecule, Kareem Ettouney is expanding the way we interact with digital media. The company’s unusual new game, Dreams, doesn’t involve shooting Uzis or scoring touchdowns. Instead, you make art, using a Sony PS4 game controller to animate your own digital dreamscape, which you can then explore, share and link to those created by others. Ettouney led the team that created the game’s look and shaped its easy-to-use toolkit and catalogue of impressionistic starter imagery. Though Dreams isn’t for sale yet—a release date has not been announced—buzz has been building since previews at E3 and Paris Game Week last year. “The Sistine Chapel was the cutting edge of its time,” says Ettouney, who also worked on Media Molecule hits LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet 2. “Dreams will become the reason to get a PS4. Because that’s where people will be creating the most innovative digital art of our time.”
Mexico City Gabriella Gomez-Mont is a professional problem solver, and Mexico City—with 22 million residents and a labyrinthian government structure—has plenty of problems. As the head of the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, an innovation lab created by the mayor three years ago, Gomez-Mont is experimenting with unusual solutions to tough issues. For instance, the former journalist, visual artist and documentary filmmaker has led a project to crowdsource the firstever citywide bus map, and has also built a digital discussion and debate platform that the city used to communicate with citizens after anti-Uber protests turned violent last year (it can be adapted for future citywide debates on other topics). The lab’s team includes artists, graphic designers, policy experts, social scientists, architects and experts in civic tech and AI. “Governments are expected to be solid and sure-footed, but citizens feel they are slow and bureaucratic, lagging behind the times,” GomezMont says. “The answer was to form a shape-shifting creative office within the government.”
Kamasi Washington MUSICIAN
For breathing new energy into jazz
After guesting on the most-acclaimed album of 2015, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, the stylistically omnivorous LA–based sax master Kamasi Washington put out a genre-pushing jawdropper of his own,
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The Epic, last May. It was a breakthrough for Washington—and for jazz in general, given the unusual amount of attention it received from the mainstream music world. The 174-minute, 17-track triple album is as
adventurous as it is accomplished, featuring an octet of collaborators who have been playing together since high school in the 1990s. “Our group almost moves more like family,” says Washington. “We have our spats
and our disagreements, but we are enamoured with each other’s talents. It’s just this enormous coincidence that we all grew up around the same neighbourhood. That’s the part that’s hard to wrap your head around.”
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Hamonate Consulting, part of the Hamonate Group of Companies, is a 100% black-owned company established in 2005 by an assembly of IT and financial professionals who have been in the industry for a number of years. A corporate IT solutions and image specialist company, it offers services such as web design, portal development, hosting, equipment supply, outsourcing, recruitment/ staffing solutions, business consulting (SAP and Microsoft software suite), as well as implementation, development, maintenance/support and educational service offerings to support these solutions. Hamonate has not only provided SAP consulting and recruitment services to end-user companies, but many larger consulting firms also utilise its services on various projects. Hamonate Consulting works side by side with clients through the entire process of business consultation: from assessment, selection and acquisition, up to implementation and support. It forms strategic partnerships with these clients to develop systems and support services that are optimised to the highest standards, delivered on time and within budget. Hamonate itself has established partnerships with various industry-leading entities to provide collaborative services in offering best-
Building a business, together At the heart of Hamonate’s approach is the willingness to pay great attention to exactly what clients want, says founder and MD Katlego Mogopudi.
of-breed business solutions to clients. Implementation of IT in any organisation is a strategic investment. Experience has proven that a business cannot implement and support a worldclass enterprise resource planning system without first investigating a strategy for return on investment from business and process-enabling technologies. Hamonate’s consultants use a structured methodbased approach that enables projects and processes to run smoothly. The company provides comprehensive project management to ensure clients are well positioned to take on business
A key focus is unlocking the potential of a client’s system investment, with an eye on continuous business improvement.
ownership and responsibility for their solutions and systems. A key focus is unlocking the potential of a client’s system investment, with an eye on continuous business improvement. This inherently demands a wider understanding of the business and a need for valueadded services, in addition to core technical implementations. Hamonate Consulting can provide clients with quality audits and reviews, where provided resources can validate implementations. Contacts Katlego Mogopudi 082 455 0255 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 0860Hamonate (426662) email@example.com www.hamonate.co.za
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Amy McDonough Mareike Geiling and Jonas Kakoschke CO-FOUNDERS, REFUGEES WELCOME
For opening doors and hearts The Problem: Germany has accepted more than 1 million refugees in the past two years, but most live a segregated life. “To place many people in a big hall, sometimes far from the city centre, with no possibility for social participation— we criticise this,” Mareike Geiling says.
The Execution: “We designed our website for people like us,” Geiling says, and they positioned it as merely a gateway to an offline process, which includes a network of “buddies”: intermediaries who meet and facilitate initial contact between hosts and potential refugee guests. Eventually, they optimised the site to make it easier for refugees to use as well, with a separate form for them. The Result: The 10-country Refugees Welcome network (Canada was added in
March) has housed 600 refugees, half through the German operation, which now has six full-time employees. That may seem like a small number, but the founders believe that their cultural example is more important than any raw stats. They dislike the label “Airbnb for refugees”, which they believe emphasises technology over humanity. Refugees Welcome is steadfastly non-profit: “Airbnb is about money,” Kakoschke says. “This isn’t about money. This is about solidarity.”
The Epiphany: Geiling, who has a background in PR, and her boyfriend, Jonas Kakoschke, a graphic designer, had been struck by the hospitality they experienced during their travels in the Middle East. In late 2014, Geiling moved temporarily to Cairo for work, leaving extra room in their Berlin apartment. Could a refugee use the space? Then came an even bigger idea: Could they create an online meeting point for potential hosts and guests?
Adam Grant AUTHOR, ORIGINALS: HOW NON-CONFORMISTS MOVE THE WORLD
For pinpointing the secrets of success
When a student invited him to invest in what would become Warby Parker, Wharton professor Adam Grant declined. The founder, reasonable and deliberate, didn’t fit Grant’s image of a brash, successful entrepreneur. As his mistake became apparent,
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Grant realised that if he could learn what makes some ideas flourish where others fail, he could invest in the next Warby Parker with confidence. He shares his findings in his New York Times best-selling book Originals: How NonConformists Move the World,
released in February. The notion that game changers are risk-taking radicals, he reports, is false. He finds that most are cautious risk managers. Instead of originating a concept, they improve on an existing one, challenging accepted norms when they can’t
VP AND GM OF CORPOR ATE WELLNESS, FITBIT
For bringing exercise to the enterprise Marathon runner Amy McDonough has built Fitbit’s corporate-wellness business into one of the company’s most promising verticals, with 1 000 corporate customers signing on last year, including Target, which ordered the devices for its more than 300 000 employees. McDonough’s work has been a win for both Fitbit and its clients: Insurance providers such as John Hancock have even begun offering policy discounts to employees who hit exercise goals using Fitbit. (One Indianapolis-based startup, Appirio, was able to knock off nearly $300 000 [R4.7 million] from its annual health bill.) In late 2015, Fitbit became compliant with HIPAA, the law regulating health-data sharing, which opened the door for potential clients even further. McDonough and her team realised early on that a one-size-fits-all solution wouldn’t work, and have spent eight years tailoring Fitbit’s interactive software for clients’ specific goals: Oil and gas companies, say, may want to track employee sleep trends to lower workplace errors, while a retailer may offer perks as fitness-challenge rewards. “[We didn’t] treat it as a bulksale opportunity,” she says. “We built solutions alongside our customers, to make sure it met their needs. That’s how we still work today.”
find a solution to a problem. “Whether it’s from frustration or righteous indignation, everyone has insights on making the world a better place,” says Grant. “Being original is simply about coming up with an idea and having the courage to act on it.”
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Moj Mahdara CEO, BEAUTYCON MEDIA
For seeing beyond the cosmetic
Moj Mahdara’s company is a key connector in the makeup world with its growing number of beauty-blogger festivals—in LA, New York, London, Dallas and Dubai—that attract as many as 12 000 attendees. Her empowerment-focused gatherings have featured panels and meet-and-greets with YouTube stars such as Bethany Mota. The company also launched a Birchbox-like subscription service in 2015, and it generates additional income by linking beauty stars with advertisers for marketing campaigns. Beautycon is on track to bring in $10 million (more than R155 million) in revenue this year. “I find it inspiring that young girls think of beauty as an expression of power and creativity, rather than [using it] to conceal or make themselves feel better,” says Mahdara, an LGBT activist who previously founded and sold two ad agencies. “That’s what attracted me to the space to begin with.”
Ahmed Abdeen Hamed COMPUTER SCIENTIST AND BIOMEDICAL RESEARCHER
For discovering drug links in hashtags
“Twitter is the eyes and ears of people all over the world,” says Ahmed Abdeen Hamed. “But it is rarely used for medical research.” Believing that mining the regular chatter among people on social media sites can yield important pharmaceutical discoveries—such as hashtags suggesting new uses for medications or interactions between them—Hamed and his colleagues at the University of Vermont developed a computer program that can search millions of tweets for names of drugs and build a map of their connections. The project has investigated connections between colon cancer and marijuana, as well as alcohol and oxidative damage (which may be linked to Alzheimer’s). Hamed, who recently left UVM to become a biomedical researcher at Merck, developed an online database that allows researchers to look for linkages across social media and the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed for potential medicinal side effects that patients share— an initiative he hopes will one day serve as an early warning system.
Nicole Van Der Tuin CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, FIRST ACCESS
For turning mobile phone payments into credit histories
The Problem: Most loan applicants in developing nations lack financial records, which makes each loan high-risk. Applying for even a R5 000 loan often requires a home visit and interest rates up to 100%. The Epiphany: After unregistered prepaid phones were used to orchestrate the 2008 terrorist attacks in
Mumbai, the Indian government more strictly enforced the requirement that all such devices be given an ID. Nicole Van Der Tuin, a NYC–based microfinance entrepreneur, realised that registering prepaid phones, which are available for purchase in even the most remote locations, established a payment history. “By 2013, over a billion
people had personal financial records and didn’t know it,” she says. She decided to turn that data into a product. The Execution: Van Der Tuin developed software that gives loan officers access to applicants’ phone payment records. That info is run through an algorithm to generate a credit-risk rating, which
is sent to partnering loan offices and banks. The Result: First Access has analysed over 50 billion mobile-phone transactions in Tanzania and Kenya, and reduced what banks were paying to evaluate borrowers by more than 65% in the past year. In 2016, the company will expand to Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia.
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Photograph by Christian Anwander
Grooming: Janice Kinjo for Exclusive Artists Management using Buckler’s Remedy
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE Off-White founder and creative director Abloh uses Instagram to inspire both consumers and designers.
I started Off-White by screen-printing T-shirts and giving them to friends. I still don’t really classify myself as a designer. I feel like they know things that I don’t.
Virgil Abloh FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, OFF-WHITE
For expanding with style
Virgil Abloh, Kanye West’s creative director and the visionary behind three-year-old Milanbased clothing line Off-White, was the only American nominated for the prestigious LVMH Prize for young fashion designers last year. Known for his hand-painted leather jackets and patched and pleated denim, Abloh had his firstever Paris Fashion Week show in September and is selling products at retailers such as London department store Selfridges and Paris trendsetter Colette.
For Kanye, you work on things like album covers and set designs. Is it an advantage in fashion, having this untraditional background? No, I just think the marketplace shifted. Luxury fashion means something different today. Now people are not as concerned with getting a Mercedes-Benz or a Rolex to represent success. That generational shift has also changed how fashion is made and sold. I didn’t go to fashion school.
And you probably know things that they don’t. Like what to do with social media. How do you shape your brand online? In a way, Instagram is more important than anything else. How many people can actually consume a piece versus watch a brand unfold [on social media]? I make Instagram my own by documenting my creative process. It’s been the norm to not show anyone the tricks leading up to what you’re releasing, and I felt that was kind of wack. This tool could be used to inspire. If I’m one of the first kids to go from making a T-shirt to doing runway shows in Paris, it would be a huge disservice to culture and to kids not to show them the ropes. How do you stay connected with that young scene? I network. In Paris last year, [a designer] friend texted me an address and was like, “Hey, you got to come here and bring some Off-White. It’s important.” I get there and he’s sitting six floors up in a window tossing out his clothes [to fans below]. He was like, “There are 60 kids out here in the street—do it for the culture.” It was a pretty epic moment and a really fulfilling vibe. —Lauren Schwartzberg
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Salbi, whose show has been seen in much of the Middle East, hopes to “create a safe space” for open dialogue.
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USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
HOST, THE NIDA’A SHOW
For being a voice of change
Natalie Naccache/Getty Images Assignment
When Iraq-born activist Zainab Salbi launched her TV talk show last year with TLC Arabia, she had a specific goal: to foster frank conversations about topics not often discussed openly in the Middle East, including transgender issues and child brides. Titled The Nida’a Show (“The Calling”), the programme’s first season was available in 4 million households in 22 countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and featured Salbi’s interviews with regional tastemakers and international celebrities (such as Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey). “Unless the region starts to reflect on its own behaviour, we can’t deal with ISIS, human rights or other problems,” says Salbi, who founded the non-profit Women for Women International in 1993 to help victims of war. “We need to create a safe space for this.”
Why create Nida’a? The idea began with the Arab Spring, which I watched with excitement. The culture is struggling right now; 60% of the population is under 30, and I am doing this to help them push against the
Photograph by Natalie Naccache
boxes that the culture has put them in. When I was growing up in Iraq, the idea of expressing yourself was unthinkable. It’s still a struggle, but far more people are talking about breaking these cultural barriers. What people say about the Arab Spring is that we have crossed the line of fear. We are not willing to go back. Do you consider the show to be political? There are front-line discussions [in the Middle East that address] the dominant political system, but no one pays attention to the back-line discussions: what people are facing on the day-to-day level, whether it’s garbage collection in Beirut or having sex and children out of wedlock. People talk about ISIS in political terms, but not the emotional trials and choices that ISIS forces on people. They don’t talk about the issues from the heart. The show airs in some countries that have poor human-rights records. Have you had to find creative ways to approach certain topics? I present the issues in a way that’s palatable to the region. [When doing stories about] Saudi Arabian women, for example, I featured a woman who climbed Mount Everest and one who started a popular fashion line. These are stories of triumphs, which is my way of trying to show the possibilities. And then I go little by little into the issues. I don’t approach as an activist. My agenda is to push softly. —Amy Farley
Jenny Lee MANAGING PARTNER, GGV VENTURES
For finding the winners in China’s tech scene “It’s not about investing in 100 companies and finding only one home run,” says GGV managing partner Jenny Lee, who launched the venturecapital firm’s Chinese operations 11 years ago and continues to drive its efforts there. “For me, it’s about finding 10 companies and having nine home runs.” Lee has a track record of success: She made savvy early investments in Uber rival Didi Kuaidi, Xiaomi and social networking platform YY.com, which went public in 2012. With GGV recently committing another $200 million (R3.1 billion) to its China
investments, Lee is focused on the next generation of tech: robots, drones, self-driving cars. “The challenge I give myself is finding entrepreneurs who can think outside the box,” Lee says. She points to her investment in Ehang, the drone maker that debuted an autonomous, humancarrying drone (a possible future transportation solution) at CES in January. The prototype may not come to market for years, but Lee isn’t worried about that. “It’s not hard for me to generate good returns,” she explains. “Now it’s about, ‘Can I change the world?’ ”
Chris Young GENER AL MANAGER, INTEL SECURITY
For expanding Intel’s arsenal Hackers are constantly evolving; cybersecurity businesses need to do the same. Since he came aboard in 2014, Intel’s Chris Young has been making over the company’s security division, formerly known as McAfee. He scrapped seven older product lines and is now focused on cloud-based tools and systems that can integrate with software made by other companies—so that clients can use Intel products as the home base for their security needs, but still tap other tools as necessary. “Attackers have no rules to follow, and can change their methodology at the drop of a hat,” says Young. “No individual company is keeping up. Our goal is to be our customer’s number-one security partner, to help them get value out of their entire security architecture, even if all the different products don’t necessarily come from us.”
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Vlogger and comedian Singh encourages her 8 million global fans to find their happy place.
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Photograph by Chloe Aftel
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Lilly Singh YOUTUBE STAR
For creating a unicorn business With more than 8 million subscribers, the Los Angeles–based vlogger Lilly Singh— aka ||Superwoman||—is one of YouTube’s biggest draws, attracting a global audience with her trademark blend of positivity and straight-talk humour. Singh’s videos, which have been viewed more than 1 billion times, are a mix of jokes, impressions and goofy comic personae that find her tackling subjects from what it’s like to have Punjabi parents to how she deals with depression. Last year, she turned some of her most popular bits into a comedy act that she took on a sold-out 26-city world tour, with stops in Hong Kong and Sydney, and released a documentary about it that was one of the initial offerings on YouTube Red.
How did you develop the Lilly Singh brand? It’s an ongoing process. I’m still figuring out what people like, and I’m still learning. My first video wasn’t comedy, my second video wasn’t comedy, but eventually I was like: Talk about the funny thing that happened; that sounds good. I enjoyed doing it, and it got a really good response. I have this rule where I won’t do things if I don’t enjoy them. You post two eightminute videos a week. That’s a lot of work! How do you come up with ideas? Do you ever feel creatively spent? I often ask my audience what they want to see, because they know best. I have more than 400 videos now, and two videos a week is not easy. Something I’ve been doing recently is taking in as much stimulus as possible from my environment. Anytime I have a spare second, I will watch other YouTube videos. Anytime I’m on a plane, I will watch movies. I make sure I know all the trending topics on Twitter. When I’m in a restaurant or in a mall,
I will be like: Oh, that’s interesting, that’s a tendency people have. I’m always taking in information and being very, very observant. That helps. How did you turn your short videos into a live event? It was tough—a lot of me writing things down, ripping up the page, writing things down, ripping things up. But I think my show is awesome. I’m proud of it. It’s called A Trip to Unicorn Island, and essentially Unicorn Island is a synonym for my happy place. Everyone has a Unicorn Island within them, and I’m going to show you that you don’t need me or anyone else to be happy. It’s interesting: You’re coming to my show and I’m telling you that you don’t need me. How’s that for a business strategy? —Nicole LaPorte
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Katrine Bosley CEO, EDITAS MEDICINE
For moving at breakthrough speed
There’s no cure for Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a retinal disease that results in severe vision loss at a young age. Its cause is well understood, though: a genetic mutation. If you could find a way to cut out that gene and replace it with a ‘clean’ version, you could cure it. You may also be able to apply the same method to thousands of other diseases caused by gene mutations. Five years ago, this was a medical pipe dream. But if Katrine Bosley, CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts biotech company Editas Medicine, pulls off her ambitious plans, it could be real as soon as next year. After a successful IPO raised $94 million (R1.4 billion) in February—on top of $163 million (R2.5 billion) in earlier funding from Bill Gates, Google Ventures and others—Editas is the richest of a small group of startups vying to be first to market with therapies that use a groundbreaking geneediting technology called CRISPR. In addition to leading the funding race, Bosley is also likely to be first to begin clinical trials; she’s planning to test a therapy for LCA on humans in 2017 (none of her competitors has set a deadline for similar testing). As drug-development timelines go, it’s wildly aggressive—CRISPR’s gene-editing potential was discovered only in 2012. But Bosley is convinced she has to move quickly. If the LCA treatment works, it could herald one of history’s biggest medical breakthroughs. “The science captures the imagination even if you don’t understand it,” she says. “It sounds like science fiction, except now we see data showing it’s on the brink of becoming reality.” Conceptually, CRISPR (or CRISPR-Cas9) is simple: Think of it as minuscule scissors with an automated guidance system. Scientists programme a strand of RNA to find a specific section of DNA, then attach the RNA to an enzyme called Cas-9 that cuts the DNA. The cell’s natural repair mechanisms fill in the
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gap with a normal gene. CRISPR has revolutionised the lab, where it’s widely used to edit the DNA of microbes, plants and animals. No one knows how best to apply CRISPR to humans. Bosley believes focusing initially on LCA, a disease of the eye (a small and easily accessible organ), could offer the best chance of success. LCA is rare, but a successful treatment would give Editas—founded in 2013 by scientists from MIT, the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard Medical School—the proof of concept needed to move forward with more challenging treatments for disorders such as cystic fibrosis. There’s another reason Bosley is in a hurry. CRISPR is now at the centre of a major patent dispute, which could cost Editas access to a dozen patents that it currently has exclusive use of. In March, the US Patent and Trademark Office began a proceeding to re-examine its 2014 decision giving a key CRISPR patent to scientists from the Harvard and MIT– affiliated Broad Institute rather than a group from UC Berkeley. At issue is who invented the use of CRISPR in the cells of higher animals, including humans. Editas has licensed certain rights to use CRISPR for developing and commercialising specific medicines from the Broad Institute team, and one of its lead scientists, Feng Zhang, is an Editas co-founder. Meanwhile, the company’s main competitors, Intellia and CRISPR Therapeutics, rely on licences tied to the Berkeley group. Further complicating the situation, Jennifer Doudna, head of the Berkeley team, was also an Editas co-founder, but left in 2014 for undisclosed reasons. If the Berkeley group ends up controlling the patents, then Editas’s licence would no longer be relevant, and the company would have to negotiate a new deal to use the technology. Unless the parties reach an agreement to share rights, the case and appeals could drag on for years. It’s a tricky position for a CEO—pushing her company to innovate while simultaneously navigating media scrutiny and potential fallout from the legal battle. “It takes a special individual to manage around this
situation,” says Kevin Bitterman, a partner in the Boston VC firm Polaris, who served as Editas’s interim CEO before hiring Bosley as his replacement in June 2014. “Katrine is a problem solver at heart. She also has the rare quality of being able to toggle between macro issues—what this means for medicine, the ethical implications—and the details. Many CEOs are good at one or the other. It’s rare to have a grasp on both.” Bosley, a 25-year biotech vet who previously ran cancer-drug developer Avila Therapeutics, is working to ensure Editas’s efforts won’t be entirely reliant on the contested patents. She says she has gathered an arsenal of strategic licences, academic advisors and in-house scientists that should keep Editas competitive regardless of how the Patent Office eventually rules. And in many respects, she says, the competition is motivating. “We all push each other, and that makes the science move more quickly. Everyone has people in their lives who suffer from diseases without a cure. I’ve had a couple of moments in my career where I was shaking, because it was so overwhelming to see a drug working far better than we’d imagined. I want to have as many of those moments as possible.” —Adam Bluestein
Photograph by Sara Morris
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Will Ruben, Laura Javier and Jasmine Probst CREATORS, FACEBOOK’S MOMENTS APP
For seizing the moments
Abby Falik FOUNDER AND CEO, GLOBAL CITIZEN YEAR
For channelling teenage wanderlust toward social good
Organising your photos is a pain, and most people just dump pictures into a folder and forget about them. Facebook’s Moments app, which launched last June, offers a better way to store images and privately send them to friends and family. “How could we take the work out of sharing photos?” says product manager Will Ruben, who created Moments with product designer Laura Javier, content strategist Jasmine Probst, and UX researcher Hannah Pileggi. “We had to remove as much friction as possible.” Moments automatically indexes all the pictures on your phone, using metadata and facial-recognition technology to create categories for specific events, places and people. It also allows you to distribute images privately to a select group of Facebook users rather than posting them on your feed for everyone to see—and, perhaps, be annoyed by. Usership is growing, with 100 million photos indexed in the month of February 2016 alone.
Abby Falik wants to give varsity-bound students a passport and a sense of purpose. There’s just one problem: The varsity admissions system sends the opposite message. “The current setup incentivises perfection at the expense of risk taking,” she says, leading to intense competition and anxiety:
Students at elite high schools today experience high levels of “chronic stress”, according to research published last year. Falik is on a mission to dismantle that system. Her non-profit social venture, Global Citizen Year, sends high school graduates to developing countries for a year of cultural immersion and
Karin Strauss RESEARCHER IN COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE, MICROSOFT RESEARCH
For storing data on DNA Demand for data storage is projected to hit 16 zettabytes in 2017, the equivalent of 4 trillion DVDs—which, if laid flat, would stretch around the Earth somewhere in the neighbourhood of 12 000 times. Existing storage media (hard disks and magnetic tape) can’t keep up. Karin Strauss and her colleagues at Microsoft Research are showing that DNA—yes, the organic material that encodes life’s operating instructions—just may be the solution. In April, Strauss’s group of computer scientists and molecular biologists unveiled an experimental DNA data–storage system that could serve as a model. They translated digital files from binary computer code (0s and 1s) into the “quaternary” code (A, T, C, G) of DNA and created a robust search function to retrieve files. Practical applications for the technology may include deep-storing video archives or recording genomic data, which requires tremendous amounts of memory. “Taking something from science fiction and putting it into reality is a thrilling task,” Strauss says.
apprenticeship before tertiary institutions, and the idea is gaining momentum. Since its first class of “fellows” enrolled, in 2010, Global Citizen Year has placed 450 students (who pay on a sliding scale) with host families in Brazil, Ecuador, India and Senegal. According to the organisation, 91% of fellows who reapplied
to varsity during this ‘bridge year’ have been admitted to more selective or better-fitting schools. Now universities in the US are getting on board. Tufts (Massachusetts) encourages admitted students to apply, and students at The New School in NYC get academic credit for the programme.
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Divya Nag HEALTH TECHNOLOGIES LEAD, APPLE
For moving Apple into the doctor’s office Last March, Divya Nag’s team introduced ResearchKit, an opensource developer toolbox that allows doctors and researchers to create apps that make it easy to participate in medical studies. There are now dozens in play, including ones for autism, Parkinson’s disease, and NFL–related concussions. “Traditionally, you’d have to drive to one of a few big hospitals to participate in a research study,” says Nag, who launched two med-tech startups before joining Apple in 2014. “Today, you can take part in two or three while you’re waiting
for your Uber.” Now she’s addressing the patient–physician relationship. Through Apple’s new CareKit tool, doctors can automatically alert outpatients when it’s time to take their medications or to exercise—while patients can reciprocate with continual updates on their condition. Doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and other hospitals in the Texas Medical Center are already using a CareKit app, and Nag sees limitless applications for monitoring diabetes, mental health, pregnancy and more.
Jill Soloway FOUNDER, TOPPLE PRODUCTIONS
For televising the revolution As the Emmy-winning creator and showrunner of Amazon Prime Video’s radical, gender-defying hit show Transparent, Jill Soloway has spent the past few years fighting the man—or at least the dominant male point of view. Now she’s doing it on even more fronts. The Hollywood veteran (Six Feet Under) and co-founder of the female-driven curated-video network, Wifey.tv, launched a production company last year called Topple—which has
an overall deal with Amazon—to develop shows and films based around female and alternative voices. Among them: I Love Dick, a halfhour comedy adapted from a provocative cult novel about a married woman’s romantic obsession, and Ten Aker Wood, a film about a woman in a failing marriage seeking refuge on a pot farm. “Every time I create a show or movie where a woman is a protagonist, we are shifting the
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way it feels for women to be the centre of their stories,” she says. But Soloway’s greatest accomplishment may be behind the scenes, in the hiring of women and members of the LGBT community on both sides of the camera. The directors for Transparent’s third season, for example, are almost all cis- or transgender women. Still, she says, “I feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what needs to be done.”
Didi Chuxing president Liu makes finding and retaining talent a priority at the ridesharing company, where the average age of its 5 000 employees is 26.
Photograph by Matjaž Tančič
Jean Liu PRESIDENT, DIDI CHUXING
For building China’s biggest ride-sharing business at breathtaking speed
One of Jean Liu’s first acts after becoming president of the Beijing-based taxihailing service Didi Dache in February 2015 was engineering the surprise merger with its biggest competitor, Kuaidi Dache, to create the formidable transportation service now known as Didi Chuxing. In less than a year and a half, she has increased the headcount from 700 people to 5 000 as the company adds bus, bike and ridesharing offerings. She’s also lined up partnerships with Grab (Singapore), Ola Cabs (India) and Lyft (the US) to offer Didi passengers in-app booking with these services, and raised $3 billion (more than R45 billion) for further expansion—all while fending off Uber’s advance into China.
How have you managed so much change in such a short time? Our principle is that we send ‘old’ people—people who
have been with us for more than two years—to try new things. So when we start a new business line, we send people who are already familiar with our team culture. The communication cost is much lower, since that person knows the company well. He also has to have the charm to get a great team together. So finding the right employees is a priority when you’re growing this quickly. To be a great company you need not only the best product but also the best people. We aim to get the best young talent from many different fields and make sure they have the feeling that they can have a huge impact. The average age of our 5 000 employees is 26. What are the biggest obstacles facing Didi in China? Less than 10% of the population has cars. The government has regulations that essentially ban cars from the road, because China’s population density is so high. So we are building a platform that will offer transportation to everyone, with black cars, taxis [carpooling option], Hitch and even buses.
You also have to keep Uber at bay. The company has spent billions of dollars trying to win a significant share of the Chinese market. Uber’s arrival didn’t change things much, from my perspective. Competition always makes you better. In developed Western countries, they are used to building products for the upper and middle class. We are offering service to people who can’t even afford cars. Our biggest challenge is delivering an efficient network in a massive, dense market. China has more than 40 cities with more than 2 million people. Didi completed 1.4 billion rides in 2015. The challenges in China are intense. What keeps you motivated? When I look outside my window today, it’s highly polluted, it’s highly unpleasant. So we are dealing with lots of different consequences of this traffic. We have 800 million urban people struggling every day. Didi’s goal is that, within three years, we are going to serve 30 million people a day, by helping them get a car, a bus or any transportation [including other shared vehicles] within three minutes. Our top mission is to serve all Chinese people so they can have better life quality. —Rick Tetzeli
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for the deaf community, Glide represented a chance to send and receive messages in a way that feels natural. Snow first realised that deaf people relied on Glide when she started posting YouTube videos to update users on new developments at the company, and deaf users asked her to add closed captions. She began to think about how to make digital communication more inclusive.
Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël CO-FOUNDERS, FELIX & PAUL STUDIOS
For treating virtual reality as an art form Virtual-reality technology is impressive, but it will never catch on without content that people actually want to watch. That’s why companies such as Oculus are so excited about VR filmmakers Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël, who directed some of the young medium’s most acclaimed projects including a fivepart LeBron James series, Striving for Greatness, and Jurassic World: Apatosaurus, a tie-in to last year’s blockbuster movie (both are available for Oculus Rift and Samsung’s VR headset). The Montrealbased duo, who have created their own 3D, stereoscopic 360-degree camera and audio-recording technology, signed a deal with the Facebook-owned Oculus last July to make what Lajeunesse describes as “high-end, cinematic” films. “Obviously, that was great for our studio,” he says, “but it was also a great way to amplify our message that VR is a serious medium and art form. It’s something to dive in and explore right away.”
Kathleen Kennedy PRESIDENT, LUCASFILM
For restoring the Force to Star Wars
to be tuned in at the same time.
The Execution: Glide has added new features to the app, like the ability to disable a function that degrades video quality (making signs hard to see) if the user has a weak Internet connection. Last year, Snow launched a social media campaign, #WithCaptions, asking all YouTube creators to caption their videos.
The Problem: For someone whose first language is signing, texting feels foreign. Deaf people tend to prefer services like Skype or FaceTime, but they require people
The Epiphany: Sarah Snow is community manager of the four-yearold Israel-based “video texting” app Glide, which has been installed on over 20 million devices. For most of its users, Glide’s appeal is in the way it records and saves videos to the cloud, which allows messages to be streamed in real time. (It also supports longer messages: A Glide video can be up to five minutes long; Snapchat’s are limited to 10 seconds.) But
The Result: The campaign has been viewed more than a million times on Facebook, and in March Snow led a South by Southwest panel about working with and for the deaf community. “Ten percent of the US is deaf or hard of hearing, but it’s a community that’s been ignored,” says Snow. She estimates that Glide now has hundreds of thousands of deaf users. “They feel like Glide was developed just for them, and that’s really special.”
the caretaker of Lucas’s legacy: She’s an on-theground producer who handpicked director JJ Abrams, pressed for the inclusion of a diverse cast and crew, and guided everything from script development to global
marketing. The result: more than $2 billion (more than R31 billion) in box-office revenue in just the first 53 days of the well-reviewed blockbuster’s release. “In a sense I’m playing a bifurcated role, protecting
a legacy and working with Disney to grow a business,” Kennedy says. Now she is overseeing two additional Star Wars movies, a spin-off film called Rogue One, and another Indiana Jones movie, due in 2019.
Sarah Snow COMMUNITY MANAGER, GLIDE
For hearing the deaf community
Last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens represented long-time film executive Kathleen Kennedy’s first project since taking the helm of Disney-owned Lucasfilm after George Lucas retired in 2012. But Kennedy isn’t just
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Illustration by Andre da Loba
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Chance the Rapper MUSICIAN
For generating music that’s priceless
Rising hip hop star Chance the Rapper (aka Chancelor Bennett) has a unique voice, three acclaimed releases and a fast-growing fan base. One thing he doesn’t have? A record deal. Though any label would love to sign him, the Chicago-based musician has always given his music away, including his most recent project, the 2015 album Surf: a wideranging collaborative effort released under the name Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment.
Does not charging money for your music let you do things that you may not be able to do if you had to worry about selling records? Absolutely. My being independent is about my being, you know, independent. It’s about my being free to do whatever I want and create in an open space without walls or deadlines. There are a lot of people who feel like they have artistic freedom in their [record] deals, but for me, the best way to [distribute] my product is the way I’ve been doing it so far. In addition to making money from touring, you sell merchandise such as Styrofoam cups
and socks. Is that about giving people a tangible way to connect? That’s 100% what it is. A big part of music is being able to really show your fandom and have it in places other than just in your ears. I like to do things that are unconventional. I think the Styrofoam cup thing is really funny. A lot of people are now buying vinyl records because they want a souvenir of the music they love. I’ve thought about pressing vinyl, but I can’t figure out how to distribute it without selling it. Your career path probably wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago. Do you think you’re opening doors for new artists? Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t want to say that I am the person who opened up the door for free music, because music has been in existence long before there was an industry for it. But it does give the artist much more independence and a better footing in the world. Technology just naturally moves faster than business, and music and thought and ideas move faster than technology. We’re in a position to be two steps ahead. —Dan Solomon
Mark Fields PRESIDENT AND CEO, FORD
For steering Ford in a more adventurous direction
Though Ford generated a record $11-billion (R172-billion) profit in 2015—thanks in part to the new aluminum-frame F-150 pickup truck—Mark Fields, the company’s CEO of less than two years, is looking ahead to less-traditional transportation-related concepts including high-tech electric bicycles and a variety of digital products. Like just about everyone else in the car industry, Fields is keen on developing autonomous vehicles, but “we want to make sure it’s true to our brand,” he says. Ford has been testing its fleet of driverless cars in California, Arizona and even on snowcovered roads (an industry first) in parts of Michigan. “We want [autonomous vehicles] to be available to everyone, not just folks who can buy luxury cars,” says Fields. In March, he established the company’s experimental innovation programme, Ford Smart Mobility, as its own business, with a focus on the kinds of products you won’t find on a dealership lot. So far, that includes FordPass, a service that will help drivers find parking spots and let them chat with a live travel guide; SYNC Connect, which lets owners start their vehicle and check the fuel level via a smartphone app; and GoDrive, a car-sharing pilot programme launched last year in London. “My role is to understand trends in the outside world and what that means for our business,” Fields says. “I want us to be known as an auto company and a mobility company.”
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USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Dani Rylan FOUNDER AND COMMISSIONER, NATIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE
For giving women a shot
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While looking for investors to back her idea for a women’s pro ice hockey league in early 2015, Dani Rylan kept her pitch simple: Top-tier female college players are the best women in the world at what they do, and they have nowhere to play once they graduate. Within a few months, Rylan—a former forward for Boston’s Northeastern Huskies—had locked in
enough funding to form the four-team National Women’s Hockey League, which kicked off its inaugural season last October. The Olympiccalibre players, who come from around the world to compete on teams such as the New York Riveters and the Boston Pride, are paid an average of $15 000 (more than R230 000) per season. Though the venues are
small (typical attendance was about 1 000 people a game), demand for merchandise has exceeded expectations—a sign that fans are embracing the concept. “Our numberone goal this year was awareness. And people are aware,” says Rylan, who is now focused on expanding the league’s sponsors. “This isn’t just a novelty. We want to be around for the long haul.”
USA MOST CREATIVE PEOPLE
Amit Agarwal VICE PRESIDENT AND COUNTRY MANAGER, AMAZON INDIA
For extending Amazon’s reach, one vendor at a time
Jeff Bezos’s former executive assistant and technical adviser has been on a critical mission in India: to establish a dominant international foothold for Amazon after it all but bombed in China. Within the past two and a half years, Amit Agarwal has grown the India division to the point that it’s now competitive with home-grown rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal, and he’s finding novel ways to overcome the country’s underdeveloped logistics and payment infrastructure. “The constraints make it exciting and challenging—they get me thinking like a cowboy,” says Agarwal, who has established several ‘India first’ innovations. Among them:
• Amazon Pickup More than 3 500 convenience stores, bakeries, flower shops etc. in 50 cities have been co-opted as Amazon delivery and pickup points. • Amazon Tatkal (“Instantly”) A specially designed studio on wheels has visited more than 30 cities and towns offering business owners services such as registration, imaging, cataloguing, and sales training that help them start selling actively on Amazon within an hour.
• Chai Carts Mobile hospitality units have travelled more than 6 000 kilometres and served nearly 16 000 cups of tea and lemonade while introducing more than 8 000 small businesses to Amazon’s seller services. • Project Udaan (“Flight”) Hundreds of assistedshopping and pickup facilities have been set up in towns and neighbourhoods with spotty Internet access, increasing Amazon’s penetration. —Saritha Rai
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Fast Company event
Glenfiddich , Auric Auto and Fast Company SA held their first Maverick Experience for 2016 at De Grendel Wine Estate in Durbanville, down in the Cape—with editor Evans Manyonga honoured as Maverick on the occasion. Guests were whisked away to De Grendel via helicopter for a lavish afternoon of food, whisky tasting and networking.
gutter credit tk
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Photographs by Lauren Kim Photography
Fast Company event
• 1. Fred Roed, William Rupert Mellor • 2. Julius Shamu, Luthando Tibini, Takudzwa Hove, Jermaine Craig, Kyle Villet • 3. Fred Roed, William Rupert Mellor • 4. Siyavuya Madikane, Luthando Tibini, Loyiso Mkize, Jermaine Craig • 5. Takudzwa Hove, Fast Company SA editor Evans Manyonga, Julius Shamu • 6. Kyle Villet, Evans Manyonga, Fast Company SA publisher Robbie Stammers, Keith Hill, Grant Holloway, Tariq Cassim, George Sharp
• 7. Luthando Tibini presenting Sir De Villiers Graaff, 4th Baronet (owner of De Grendel) with a bottle of Glenfiddich 18 Year Old
Sheer Driving Pleasure
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WE HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. MEET A BMW GENIUS.
Innovation has always been a cornerstone for BMW. It’s not just the models in our showroom that set the trend, but the showroom itself. We are proud to introduce the BMW Genius – an expert who will assist with any queries you may have, deliver product demonstrations and even take you on a virtual test-drive. Whether you’d like to know which features are available in your dream BMW or how to use them, the BMW Genius will have the answer. Speak to the BMW Genius at Auric Auto: Reinhardt Salie 021 670 1113 Reinhardt.Salie@bmwdealer.co.za
215 Main Rd, Claremont, Cape Town Tel. 021 670 1100 www.bmw-auricauto.co.za
Sheer Driving Pleasure
The Great Innovation Frontier
More than just ‘doing the right thing’ I F W E A R E TO T R A I N A N D D E V E LO P A G E N E R AT I O N O F G R E AT I N N OVATO R S , T H E Y H AV E TO B E L E D BY A G E N E R AT I O N O F E T H I CA L L E A D E R S
HIEF JUSTICE MOGOENG Mogoeng caused
a stir with his challenge to the country’s leaders to set a more ethical example. But if we are to drive innovation in South Africa, we have no choice but to follow his instructions.
Technology has a way of making time appear to go faster, so it already seems a long time ago that Google came up with its slogan, “Don’t be evil.” Simple enough, right? With great power comes great responsibility, but the corollary is also true: There is great potential for growth and good things where there is great leadership. Looking at the world around us, though, it would seem that perhaps “Don’t be evil” is not such a simple instruction. Some would argue corruption is endemic. Judge Mogoeng took a not-so-subtle swipe at South Africa’s leadership shortly after the Constitutional Court delivered its judgement on Nkandla, saying: “If ever there was a time to embrace ethical leadership and stop spinning, stop manipulating, stop relying on our supporters and sympathisers to do wrong, knowing that this will be covered up in some way—that time is now.” He quoted Myles Munroe in biting fashion: “Our nations, societies and communities are suffering from an astounding leadership vacuum.” Judge Mogoeng added, “Greed, timidity and lack of vision are rampant among the current crop of pseudo-leaders. Where are the genuine leaders? Where are individuals who are willing to take responsibility for the present situation and conditions in the world?” This is true of business too. The judge made the excellent point that for every corrupt official, there has to be a corrupt business leader enabling that person. But it goes deeper than just doing the right thing. A great deal of research has demonstrated a relationship between ethics and innovation: If we are to train and develop a generation of great innovators, they have to be led by a generation of ethical leaders. A study in The Leadership Quarterly of February 2016 linked employees’ perceptions of management’s ethics to creativity in the organisation, while a 2012 Chinese study in the Journal of Business Ethics showed “individual innovative work behaviour was positively related to both individual perception of ethical leadership and group ethical leadership”.
Technological innovation per se is not what we are looking for; what we need is technology with the purpose to deliver real and sustainable solutions to real problems.
Furthermore, in today’s world, innovation has to be conducted ethically. The technological boom of the 20th century caused untold environmental damage, and there was great human cost too. Today’s innovators are realising they cannot continue in this vein. The great thinkers and developers today are focused on sustainability and creating solutions for a world that must still be here for their children and grandchildren. James O’Toole writes in the Ivey Business Journal: “With increasing frequency, farsighted corporate leaders, the business media and the most progressive business schools are using a new management vocabulary. This new lexicon includes words and phrases such as Globalism, Sustainable Growth, Stakeholders, Continuous Innovation, Corporate Culture, Ethics and Values-Based Leadership. While these words may appear unrelated, the dots between them can be connected. When they are, they constitute a formidable challenge for the business community: Leaders of global corporations must learn how to create socially and economically sustainable corporate cultures”. He underlines here the aforementioned need for social and economic sustainability, and the fact that innovation can no longer be viewed in isolation from it. The call is coming from business students as well. A recent study by Yale University and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which surveyed business school students around the world (including the UCT Graduate School of Business), shows a new generation of top talent is insisting on a more ethical approach to business: 84% of students said they would choose to work for a company with good environmental practices, while 44% would accept a lower salary in order to work for such a company. Whichever way you look at it, ethical leadership makes sense. From an innovation perspective, ethical leadership not only inspires creativity and innovation but also makes it possible for these creative solutions to be put into practice for the long term and in the service of humanity. Technological innovation per se is not what we are looking for; what we need is technology with the purpose to deliver real and sustainable solutions to real problems. For this, there is little room for unethical leadership, both in the boardroom and in parliament. Leaders must act for the greater good—or they must step aside.
Walter Baets is the director of the UCT Graduate School of Business and holds the Allan Gray Chair in Values-Based Leadership at the school. Formerly a professor of Complexity, Knowledge and Innovation and associate dean for Innovation and Social Responsibility at Euromed Management—School of Management and Business, he is passionate about building a business school for ‘business that matters’.
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Fast Events Upcoming events Fast Company will be attending
#TechTalkCPT: Neuroscientific Marketing Date: 8 June Time: 18h00–21h00 Location: 22seven, Hout Bay, Cape Town www.kat-o.net #TechTalkCPT brings you the B L E E D I N G E D G E O F T E C H N O L O GY, S C I E N C E A N D I N N O VAT I O N as presented by specialists—accompanied by D R I N K S A N D N E T W O R K I N G . June’s #TechTalkCPT is about N E U R O M A R K E T I N G : A R E L AT I V E LY N E W F I E L D O F R E S E A R C H that studies consumers’ S U B C O N S C I O U S E M O T I O N A L A N D C O G N I T I V E R E S P O N S E S to the consumer experience. Neural Sense will share the N E U R O F E E D B A C K A N D B I O M E T R I C T E C H used to learn why consumers make their decisions, and to determine how the E M O T I O N A L D R I V E R S B E H I N D T H O S E D E C I S I O N S can be optimised.
FinTech Africa Financial Inclusion Event Date: 23 June Time: 16h00–19h30 Location: AlphaCode, Sandton, Johannesburg www.fintechafrica.co.za New players leapfrog old P L AT F O R M S T O D E L I V E R M O B I L E B A N K I N G S E R V I C E S to the disadvantaged. Financial technology is F U L F I L L I N G I T S P O T E N T I A L F O R T H E F U T U R E O F E M E R G I N G E C O N O M I E S . Join the FinTech Africa Event on Financial Inclusion to F U L LY U N D E R S TA N D T H E L AT E S T D E V E L O P M E N T S . One hundred insiders, experts, startups and investors will D I S C U S S T H E D E V E L O P M E N T S A N D C H A L L E N G E S F O R F I N A N C I A L I N C L U S I O N in Africa, while several fintech companies will P R E S E N T T H E M S E LV E S .
Vision 2030 Summit Date: 8 & 9 June Location: Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, Johannesburg 2030vision.co.za/event The Vision 2030 Summit is A P L AT F O R M F O R M E M B E R S O F T H E P R E S I D E N C Y , key government dignitaries and P R I VAT E - S E C T O R L E A D E R S to share insights, engage and discuss the V I S I O N F O R T H E N AT I O N A L D E V E L O P M E N T Plan. It highlights K E Y A S P E C T S around V I S I O N 2 0 3 0 and how key organisations and I N D I V I D U A L S C A N C O N T R I B U T E to make it a reality.
Infrastructure Africa 2016 Date: 9 & 10 June Time: 08h30–16h30 Location: Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg www.infrastructure-africa.com Africa’s M O S T S E N I O R B U S I N E S S L E A D E R S , policy makers, R E G U L AT O R S A N D M E D I A will C H A M P I O N D E L I V E RY of the continent’s critical infrastructure requirements, while P R O V I D I N G E X P E R T A D V I C E O N T H E C U R R E N T S TAT E O F I N F R A S T R U C T U R E and the impact of future development. A T W O - D AY H I G H - L E V E L C O N F E R E N C E , Ministerial Infrastructure and Development R O U N D -TA B L E D I S C U S S I O N , and the official Gauteng Infrastructure projects workshop are highlights.
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InnoLive 2016 & CrowdSourcing Week Africa Summit Date: 23 & 24 June Time: 09h00–17h00 Location: Business Connexion Office Park, Midrand, Johannesburg www.innocentrix.co.za Innocentrix presents InnoLive 2016, one of the M O S T R O B U S T C O N F E R E N C E S for South African organisations that regard I N N O VAT I O N A S A S T R AT E G I C P R I O R I T Y . With international speakers as well as the C O U N T RY ’ S I N D U S T RY L E A D E R S presenting local and international C A S E S T U D I E S , A C H I E V E M E N T S and M E T H O D O L O G I E S that have delivered value will be showcased, D E B AT E D A N D C E L E B R AT E D . For the first time since its inception, CrowdSourcing Week (CSW) Global W I L L B E P R E S E N T E D O N T H E A F R I C A N C O N T I N E N T and will be hosted on D AY 2 O F I N N O L I V E 2 0 1 6 A S CSW AFRICA.
ProVox Entrepreneurship Workshop Date: 27 to 30 June Time: TBC Location: ProComm House, Ferndale, Randburg, Johannesburg www.provox.co.za SMMEs contribute A R O U N D 4 0 % O F S O U T H A F R I C A’ S G R O S S D O M E S T I C P R O F I T and employ more than half of the private-sector workforce. It’s estimated that as much as 8 0 % O F N E W J O B S I N W O R L D E C O N O M I E S A R E B E I N G C R E AT E D BY S M M E S , making small business a K E Y P L AY E R I N T H E F U T U R E G R O W T H of our country. This workshop offered by the P R O V O X C E N T R E for Public Relations and Communication will F O C U S O N P R O V I D I N G D E L E G AT E S W I T H T H E N E C E S S A RY E M B E D D E D K N O W L E D G E in the B A S I C S O F S TA R T I N G A B U S I N E S S and customer relations.
SABC Education EduWeek 2016 Date: 29 & 30 June Time: 09h30–18h00 Location: Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Johannesburg www.educationweek.co.za The largest and most recognised African education event will B R I N G T O G E T H E R E D U C AT I O N A L P R O F E S S I O N A L S A C R O S S E D U C AT I O N A L T E C H N O L O GY ( E -T E C H ) ;
vocational and higher education; basic education; inclusive education; and, N E W F O R 2 0 1 6 , E A R LY C H I L D H O O D D E V E L O P M E N T The theme for EduWeek 2016 is S U S TA I N A B L E D E V E L O P M E N T I N E D U C AT I O N . Be at the forefront of Africa’s T R A N S F O R M AT I O N BY N E T W O R K I N G W I T H L E A D E R S ,
17th Annual Debian Conference Date: 2 to 9 July Location: Upper Campus, University of Cape Town debconf16.debconf.org DebConf is the annual Debian D E V E L O P E R S ’ M E E T I N G , an event filled with D I S C U S S I O N S , W O R K S H O P S A N D C O D I N G PA R T I E S —all of them highly technical in nature. D E B C O N F 1 6 W I L L O N C E A G A I N F E AT U R E S P E A K E R S F R O M A R O U N D T H E W O R L D , being extremely beneficial for D E V E L O P I N G K E Y C O M P O N E N T S of the Debian system, I N F R A S T R U C T U R E A N D C O M M U N I T Y.
Women in Business Seminar 2016 Date: 6 July Time: 09h00–12h00 Location: Emoyeni Estate, Parktown, Johannesburg wibs.org.za What exactly is the state of F E M A L E B U S I N E S S L E A D E R S H I P on the continent? According to a report by the A F R I C A N D E V E L O P M E N T B A N K released in June 2015, the continental AV E R A G E O F W O M E N S I T T I N G I N T H E B O A R D R O O M S of companies listed on the stock exchanges of 1 2 O F T H E L A R G E S T E C O N O M I E S in the region is 4 . 6 % L O W E R T H A N T H E G L O B A L AV E R A G E . Where are the women? Come H E A R D I R E C T LY F R O M O T H E R S U C C E S S F U L W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S willing to share valuable information, A N D J O I N I N T H E D I S C U S S I O N S A N D B O U N C E O F F I D E A S with others.
strategic thinkers and entrepreneurs FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE.
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Adapt, or close your doors I T ’ S T I M E TO Q U E ST I O N A B S O LU T E LY E V E RY T H I N G A B O U T W H AT H A P P E N S I N Y O U R O R G A N I S AT I O N
F YOU’VE SAT in on any high-level executive meeting over recent years, you’re sure to have heard the following words and phrases: Disruption, Innovation, Paradigm Shift, Creativity—and my all-time favourite: Out of the Box. Most companies realise they need to dig really deep and come up with creative, innovative ideas if they just want to survive, never mind still be around and relevant in the next five years. The problem is that these so-called buzzwords remain just that: useless boardroom clichés used ad nauseam.
In order to do things truly differently and invent new procedures and methodologies, a company needs to have a constantly questioning culture, with creativity embedded deep within its veins. Too many companies rely on a few individuals, without any of their ideas ever coming to fruition due to rejection by the guys at the top who are generally scared of change or radical initiatives. It’s far easier to do things the way they’ve always been done, instead of treading through uncharted territory. For many businesses in the corporate sector, being creative is allowing staff to wear jeans on Fridays. Take a look at any company that has disrupted an industry over recent years and you’ll find an abundance of creative energy and unique thinking. In order to achieve this, all traditional methods would’ve been scrutinised and questioned in order to come up with a new and more viable business model. Let’s be honest: If the methodologies of Uber or Airbnb had been presented across the world to various executives, 99.9% would’ve rejected these as being utterly ridiculous and outlandish. There are no companies or business sectors that can sit back and continue to do things in the manner in which they’ve previously been done. Research shows that by the year 2025, many of the current jobs and professions will no longer exist, meaning entire industries will have changed focus and direction— or will simply be run by robots. This is not a very comforting fact, especially for those who are averse to change and doing things differently. The banking sector is a great example of how
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For many businesses in the corporate sector, being creative is allowing staff to wear jeans on Fridays.
creativity is being incorporated into changing environments and processes that result in exciting customer experiences. I expect certain players in the banking fraternity to have more attractive business models than many retailers will have. The age of the exciting bank is closer than we think. I’m a firm believer that the current structures within corporate companies aren’t conducive to change and innovation. Look at most organisations and you’ll find all the usual suspects plodding along to the same ‘80s tunes: The managing director, HR director, marketing director, the list continues… but nowhere in the mix do we see a creative director. Surely having creative thinkers interspersed within departments would create a new and intriguing dynamic? Within a short space of time, corporate entities could be turned around and tackling problems with more innovative solutions. Along with this, a creative culture would be formed throughout the company—simply because there’s constant questioning of how things should be done and rolled out. It’s time to question absolutely everything about what happens in your organisation, from the operating hours to the way everyone dresses. Boring routine is certainly not motivating, let alone conducive to an inspiring community. The ultimate creative company will have fewer rules and be run on flexibility. It will stop being driven by hours but rather by outputs. Change names of functions and positions—this immediately alters the way outcomes and attitudes will be changed. Imagine a company that’s completely devoid of meetings but rather engages in discussions or debates with only a facilitator in charge, whose sole purpose is to ensure order and implement proceedings. Some forwardthinking companies create project teams where unlikely candidates are put together to find solutions to tasks completely out of their scope of work. Imagine getting your clerks or secretaries involved in creating a new marketing plan or merchandise strategy, or the finance guys involved in product development? Almost immediately you have a bubbling pot that’ll have a completely different dynamic to that which normally occurs within a mundane structure. One thing is clear: Companies that embrace creativity and are open to completely changing the game are the ones that are going to win. And allowing staff to wear jeans on Fridays isn’t going to result in a creative culture. Dave Nemeth is a qualified designer with 20 years’ experience and the owner of Trend-Forward, a trend forecasting and consulting business. He has often been referred to as one of South Africa’s leading trend gurus by a host of publications and online media. His annual trend forecast, focusing on design within business, has become a soughtafter report. Follow Dave on Twitter (@davenemeth) and Facebook (dave.nemeth).