Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Turn it around!

Everyday i hear negative comments or negative thoughts and everyday i turn them around. One of they and very successful techniques i teach is to turn every negative comment into an opportunity by turning it around. This helps in both personal living and in business as well as a life perspective that enlightens everyday and is really fun and reduces confrontation to a zero. Let me start with politicians for they are the best to practice this technique. If a politician calls another politician a cockroach then they are the actual cockroach ( TURN IT AROUND-TIA). If a politician says "pay back the money", then it is they who owe money that needs to be paid back! (TIA) If a politician says another politician is a liar, then he is the liar! (TIA) I could go on all day. Basically anything a politician says TIA it and you should get closer to the truth!
In business as an entrepreneur many comments are made all the time. That start up will never make it! TIA it and you could say "he will make it" or I could never really make it! ( says alot about people who make such comments). Your idea is worthless! TIA it....the person making the comment is worthless. I hear negative comments from so called venture capitalists and so called experts all the time and i am amazed at the negative style that is often purveyed to people....especially young people. Most of the time when i hear these negative comments i turn them around in my head and i think that person is actually showing me who they are....deep down. That is why i tell my university students to be carefull who they invite as judges to their pitch events.
In personal life this theory works wonders. If i am surfing and someone calls me a shit surfer in the water, i beleive he feels he is a shit surfer. Or someone calls another a kook, he is the actual kook. If all surfers had this technique no would bother fighting. If your partner says "you are so lazy" or whatever TIA it. They feel lazy...or in reality if we looked at the facts they are actually the lazy one.
So next time someone says anything negative or someone is debating an issue TIA it over and over and i promise your whole worldview will change, that will lead to opportunities and new doors that all people need to open. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

BEBOLD winner announced

This is my final blog for 2014. The Final BEBOLD event was a phenomenal success with all the students giving fantastic presentations and the UCT guys coming up trumps. There innovative business to have a separate screen for questions for lecturers at university's as well as schools and conferences was a huge hit. Especially the functionality and that they had a proof of concept as well as a few sales under their belt and some good demand from other universities. The students themselves were all amazing and it proved that the hunger for innovation and entrepreneurship is huge amongst university students.

What does 2015 hold for me?

Well BEBOLD is gonna rock:

1. Set up Independent Entrepreneurship Societies at all 28 campuses across the country.
2. Have regular pitch sessions at all of these campuses
3. 50,000 university students in the system.
4. Teach innovation techniques across all campuses
5. Launch a crowdsource platform for university students only that want to invest in other student businesses
6. Have a bigger better FINALS
7. Have 3500 new businesses across all campuses

Wow, 2015 is going to be awesome.

On the innovation side, i will be doing more seeing the leaves workshops than ever across universities, corporates, rural areas, townships and hopefully internationally. This technique still works like a bomb and i still need to keep it going as i may be doing it for a very long time to come.

So lets all make 2015 the best innovation year yet and lets all support those who want to take the plunge to be innovators and entrepreneurs. They are my heroes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top questions all start up entrepreneurs should ask!

Here are my top questions all start up entrepreneurs should ask of themselves: They are all Yes and No questions. If it is a NO then you should seriously reconsider your business.

1. Is your idea innovative and grounded?
2. Do other people get excited about your idea?
3. Do people want to give you money or purchase shares instantly or is it a hard slog?
4. Do people criticise the idea or are they supportive?
5. Have you sold any?
6. Do you understand your customer?
7. If you have been going for longer than a year and sold nothing is this idea really worthwhile?
8. Have you built a prototype? and sold some?
9. Can you explain your business in one sentence clearly that even a 10 year old will understand
10. Do you have another idea should this one not work?

Like i said if you have too many NO's then your chances are probably a little slim to success. If you have many Yes's then you may be the next Richard Branson.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Intervarsity Pitch is almost here

Universities are strange places. There are so many awesome people who lecture, and attend these institutions. Thats why i beleive universities are the place where innovators are found...and wow have i found them. Not only innovators but also entrepreneurs. Young people who want to make things happen for themselves. 
For quite some time i have been driven by anger. Anger that we can have a whole sports varsity competition model going on and not something that means something really...something with a brain and something like entrepreneurship that will literally change lives and change the country. Im sorry but  rugby and netball just doesnt change peoples lives and the lives of many people outside of the sport and it cant be played by all especially at the higher level. So it has always been an irony that sports at varsity is such a big thing when having a brain should be what its all about. For the sponsors like FNB it is also nonsense. Especially as a bank should be encouraging entrepreneurship. I suppose it didnt hurt to have Francois Pienaar work for the bank!
Anyhow this anger led me to start BEBOLD and build a student driven process to entrepreneurship. The ideas have been awesome throughout 2014, more universities are joining all the time, more students are participating and thank god more enlightened sponsors.
But its the student entrepreneurs who are most inspiring. Like the NWU student who designed a straw based system to take supplements, OR the UCT student who set up a tech application so students can ask questions in real time while lectures are happening OR the CPUT student who developed an e-newspaper that is neither online or paper based OR the Rhodes student who has designed a hydro-ponic system using recycled plastic pellets....
So who will win? Which varsity will take the prize. This is what the intervarsity pitch will decide in december and i cant wait! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

India has a market South Africa has a future in Innovation

I believe that South Africa has a great future in Innovation. However many great startups in SA have a singular problem. The market in SA is very small and limited. While the Indian market is extremely large and variegated. Why do i say SA is moving toward an innovation culture and away from a manufacturing culture?
1. If one looks at the number of protests in the manufacturing sector it remains to be seen how long this sector can last before government steps in or foreigners purchase all the companies ( if they haven't already).
2. The cost of doing manufacturing in SA is just too expensive. Labour, electricity, rates and taxes etc etc etc. It doesnt't take a brain surgeon to realise that it will always be made cheaper elsewhere.
3. Very few manufacturing companies will invest here unless there are massive tax incentives ( like the automotive industry) where the taxpayer gets screwed completely.

However SA is brimming with confidence when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship. Why?
1. Because jobs are becoming scarcer even with a degree
2. Universities are starting to push innovation and entrepreneurship
3. The whole country and government is starting to push Innovation
4. It cost far less to have an innovation industry developed than a manufacturing sector. These sectors also help build older property areas.

But the most important aspect is that young people in SA want to be innovative and entrepreneurial as they see a future in this sector. SA also has some fine examples of innovation in the last 10 years that have been exported globally.

This hunger will drive the wave of Innovation in SA.

So I see SA's youngsters driving Innovation but they will need a big market to make a success of their new venture.
I believe that this market is India.
I believe that SA innovators should take selected SA innovations and start testing them in the Indian market. Since India has such a big market it will only take a small part of that market and a few great innovations to make millions.

Friday, August 29, 2014

We dont need anymore chicken farmers! We need entrepreneurs

I recently felt quite upset at the Black Business Chamber and their organisers who wanted to help grassroots small businesses. Instead they helped some very basic businesses that i feel are disingenous to young people in this country as far as innovation and entrepreneurship are concerned and set us up for mediocrity.

My response:

In Response to the article about the Black Business Chambers awards I was severely disappointed. Why? If South Africa is going to promote chicken farmers and uninspiring small businesses as the way forward then there is no hope for small business in this country. The talent does exist in South Africa to promote more innovative businesses but schools and universities don't understand how to train young people to find new ideas that will inspire fresh approaches and innovation. I can recall one entrepreneur who took all the chicken skins that were discarded by retailers and turn them into a crunchy new snack and another entrepreneur who looked at the methods of township chicken sellers struggling toy take the feathers off chicken and designing a whole new methodology to remove the feathers. What the Black Business Chamber has done in promoting small business is scandalous and a total waste of time and resources. Its time we started teaching kids in this country the skills to be innovative and creative and to find the many business opportunities that are available to them.

One of their responses:

I hope you are well. Thank you for sharing your views on the Black Business Chamber and it's recent Grassroots business competition.

I understand your frustration. At the same time, I also do understand what the Black Business Chamber is trying to achieve through the competition.

Below are some of the reasons I do support the competition, namely:

1. There are socio-economic reasons why such type of businesses should be supported to initiate growth.
2. Most of the grassroots businesses cannot access existing business support/ resources because of many known reasons.

I think the Black Business Chamber achieved their goal through the competition. The goal is to support the grassroots businesses in CT. Here are two of recent examples to support my thinking:

1. The owner of the chicken business is now working on setting up a farm to supply restaurants and hotels in WC and EC. I am writing this email now sitting at Marcos African place, just eat the chicken the company want to farm (runway/ village chicken). There is a huge market for the runway chicken.
2. Didiza Productions used to do small TV scripts "here" and "there." But now, the company is now negotiating a contract with the Department of Defence to facilitate and manage the hiring of military equipment and installations by the Film Industry in RSA. This proposal is now supported by the Minister of Trade and Industry (see Minister trip to Hollywood news), Wesgro, WC and KZN Film Commissions, the Military Veteran, and more. I am accompany the owner of the company to attend another meeting with Wesgro tomorrow.

The above are some of the reasons I think, with no doubt, that without this approach, the above businesses could have not seen the light to growth but remain "grassroots" despite potential.

I don't think every business must be based on a new idea only but it can also be working on a basic idea and do it very well.

My experience tells me that the Black Business Chamber must continue with the competition to support the "grassroots" businesses to initiate growth. It is for this reason the Black Business Chamber is relevant to these type of businesses.

To sum up, I think different organizations will always find own ways to promote the culture of entrepreneurship. 

My response: 

I asked the students at RAA who are trained to come up with awesome fresh innovative ideas what they thought. They were as disgusted as me and felt that this kind of competition downgrades young people in this country. They beleive like me that with skills training and decent ideas generation that all young people can become entrepreneurs instead of small survivalist businesses.

The examples given above of small business "making it" are dubious at most in my opinion as i have been around for a very long time and heard these kind of delusional examples many times over.

In conclusion i am advocating for young people in this country to reach their full potential wether educated or not, wether rich or poor, to be skilled in the art of entrepreneurship and to use their full range of creative spirit as a young person instead of becoming small scale chicken farmers ( no offence to chicken farmers)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What is an MVP?

I recently had the good fortune to work with Socionext a Dutch based Amsterdam organisation working with a whole bunch of university students on the Wits campus. What i loved about their model was the MVP or Minimum viable product. The MVP model is exactly the way innovation and entrepreneurship should be managed as it is quick, simple, intensive and full of surprises.

5 Golden Rules of MVP’s
Eric Ries
  1. The goal is to begin the process of learning.
  2. Aim your MVP at early adopters. They don’t care about per-
    fect solutions. They care about being first users....
  3. Any additional learning you do beyond what is required to
    start learning is a waste.
  4. Be prepared for your MVP to bring bad news (and essential
  5. No matter what happens, don’t give up hope. Keep on testing,
    learning and growing. 

    So the students on the course had to first find a great idea using my newspaper technique and then do a MVP ( all in 5 days)

    I dont think we thought it possible but working 9-5 for 5 days showed it is possible. A lesson in itself.

    Great ideas like Train Surfing ( Literally standing on top of a train and surfing as a commercial enterprise), The sale of alternative milk (Like Yak milk), and even a self branding program for students.

    The students made it, delivered the MVP and even sold it...all in 5 days!

    Steve Blank talking about the MVP (2 minute video):

    I am going to take the MVP model and inculcate it into my Ideas Generation technique and limit the MVP to 2 weeks. Im very excited by this model and believe it will create the volume needed from idea to reality.

    “Your job as a founder is to quickly validate whether the model is correct by seeing if customers behave as your model pre-
    dicts. Most of the time the darn customers don’t behave as you predicted.” Steve Blank