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 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Could drunken students cooking become a business?

The UCT entrepreneurship Society are an awesome bunch. I recently took them through a process of seeing the leaves and they had to come up with great ideas and implement them. 4 awesome ideas were chosen.

1. Drunken students learning how to cook.

The students wanted to great easy to use printed recipes as students are generally poor cooks and guide students to purchasing clever at local retailers. A great big thanks to Shoprite managers who were the only one's to say go-for-it! What the students didn't realise was their promotional video is the actual business. This is one of the quirks of a start-up. Often the "real" business is the "mistake" or the unintentional part of the business. The video is quirky and funny and something students can relate to. Now every recipe can be placed on facebook and students will watch other students cooking with all the natural characters and impromptu students stuff that is impossible to script.

Check out the link

2. University tours

Universities have so many great stories, so many nooks and crannies and so many characters. This idea is so cool as students could easily run and manage it and then expand it to other universities. 

3. Replicart

The winner on the night takes full scale replica art ( Think a full scale Jackson Pollock), and creates galleries so people can see what the art is really like. In a place like South Africa it would be nigh impossible for many kids and even adults to ever see a Jackson Pollock or the lilies painted by Matisse. Now they can experience it first hand. When they tested this idea they blew everyone away and with thousands of schools this idea is a winner.

4. Baby growers with crazy sayings

Imagine your baby with a baby grower saying, " watch your daughters" for a very cool little boy. The sayings are endless and funny and quirky and they sold out within a few minutes. A winner in my book as this could be a global trend very easily.

The UCT entrepreneurship society has been awesome to work with and i am sure if they pursue these ideas all of them will be successful.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Are you an Honest Broker (HB)? or a Greedy Mother F....R

1. Do you connect people with other people at parties like clockwork? 
2. Do you sit at coffee shops all day chatting away to people? 
3. Does your wife say you love to chat when all she wants to do is leave? 
4. Do your kids get annoyed when you have long conversations with people while they want to go and play?
5. Does your brain automatically think about dollar signs when you see a potential opportunity?
6. Are you interested in other people’s businesses? 
7. Do you try and cut yourself in a deal even if its not your own?
8. When you think of the word broker do you think Mother Theresa? 
9. When you die will they put on your tombstone “He helped other people” ? 
10. Have you a story where you connected one person to another and something great happened in business because of you? 

To be nominated OR to become an HB you should have scored:
   8 (YES)
  2 (NO)
Or somewhere close to that!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The dark side of innovation

Being a person who believes in the ying and the yang, the light and the dark, I suppose there had to be a dark side to innovation, the side that no one explores or debates, the uncomfortable side, the scary side. At a talk on low income solutions to marketing a case study was done on SAB and Kenya. SAB realized that their beers were too expensive for that market. Their strategy! To develop Cassava a cash crop into a low income beer using some awesome technology. With all the resources they have they succeeded in the technology. A case in point.  And produced a low income beer. The sales of the beer are phenomenol in that market, but SAB really want the market buying more of this beer, slowly increasing the price to make their premium beers appetizing to the market in price. Genius or just plain devious. At the talk it was explained that the farmers could make much more money selling the cassava now ( a cash crop) BUT one has to balance out the social ills of all the alcohol consumed in the market and the total cost to the country in the long run. A dark cloud came over the room as the case study unfolded. When the presenter mentioned that for the first time in his life the CEO of SAB felt they had done something good in their lives I felt the room contract in disgust. The reality is excess alcohol use is one of the biggest scourges of the low income community....something they struggle with on a daily basis, and beer makes up the majority of that , and SAB is the biggest role player. Social ills such as violence in all forms, car accidents, shack fires and the list can go on and on are exacerbated by excess alcohol use. Not to mention that poor households spend income they cannot afford on alcohol that should be used for education and food, sometimes leaving families hungry! This is not anecdotal. (See one of my earlier blogs on How excess alcohol use is actually the main cause of shack fires) and backed up by many other research reports. Like i said i am not a teetotaller and do love my tipple but balancing the forces of good and bad when it comes to innovation should not be an issue. Innovation in this context helps the farmer but destroys a community or even a country. So innovation in this context favours the bad ( even though there is some good). Innovation should always favour the good of society BUT i understand their might always be a dark side. The final question should be how SAB can change their entire business model using innovation to become a force for good! Is this impossible?It is in my opinion. They have the resources, the brand, the technology, so they could actually change the world....for good....or they could keep on destroying it interspersing themselves with feel good innovations that will never counter their own dark side. All SAB needs is the will!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Technology and issues close to our heart

Ever gone to a restaurant with a group of friends or a few couples and now the bill comes. Let's calculate quickly or just make a quick division to split the bill. The reality is if we are going to split a bill then surely we should do it correctly. It is quite an irritation as it is quite difficult to make a calculation right there. Also what if I wanted that extra special expensive cigar and no one else did.or more wine. I think that all restaurants should have a special app for split bills. I recently heard the idea and thought how practical, that's something I would use. Like all apps I am not a fan as most don't make any money but this is one that if fitted to all restaurants ( and restaurants would buy it) then it may work.
At the same workshop I also heard another idea that is very personal to me. Magnificent hard working sportsmen and women who sweat blood and tears to make it on the world stage but receive no sponsorship from companies or government. Damn it irritates me because I know how hard these guys work. There should be an organization that connects sponsors with minor sports not just the big money sports. Perhaps starting with crowd funding and later with connecting money to actual sporting codes who don't have any financial support. I think this is something I need to do as my young son is a top karate fighter and if we travel overseas to compete it will cost me a fortune. This must be done on a web platform. Another good example of technology that could makea big difference
I suppose the lesson here is innovation is sometimes best handled when very personal and tackles issues that are very close to our hearts.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

People give money to People not businesses or causes

i recently started The Fundraising Academy. The objective was clear. Train people to raise money for their businesses or projects. As a profession in South Africa it is quite clear that there are thousands of people trying to do positive social projects ( or non profits) fact 100,000 of them and they all need to raise money, and there are thousands of entrepreneurs who need money for their business start-ups. The issue of capital raising is an interesting one but i dont think it has changed much over time. Most money is given by people to other people rather than the value of the new idea. What this means and what i teach at the academy is someone will first invest in you and not your cause or business. They first need to "like you" or trust you or beleive in You! This is a difficult proposition for most young entrepreneurs as they promote their brilliant ideas. They need to be promoting who they are and they need to start by building genuine relationships with possible people who can fund their brilliance in ideas. When i listen to a pitch most people sell ideas and causes. They dont understand that a potential investor needs to understand who they are first. In an age of technology, building genuine relationships has become much harder for young people. I mean a young couple can be dating online, thousands of miles away from each other, talk on the phone daily ( sorry i mean on facebook or Skype), for years and never actually meet face to face. What skills are these young people learning? What happens when they eventually do meet and move in together? A disaster. The same applies to raising capital for your business. You need to meet people. Build genuine relationships with them. Let them get to know you and then they might just bet on you. Let me emphasise genuine again and again, as most people who seek money from other people are often not genuine. If someone doesnt give you money its not personal. But that relationship needs to be. When i hear young people pitch new innovations they fail to build this connection between people. The idea is rarely strong enough. The other option to raise capital is to go to a bank ( good luck), go to the government ( better luck). This form of raising capital has and will always work. However let me throw in a quick caveat. Crowdsource funding may just change the game altogether. Where millions of ordinary Joe's fund other ordinary Joe's, anywhere, anytime. If you cant make this work however you will still need to revert to the old ways....people give to people not to great ideas.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Raymond Ackerman entrepreneurship students are on a roll again! Check out the top 12!

Every year I lecture on innovation and love all the new ideas that come out of the course material. I really want the students to be as succesfull as Sizwe from Iyeza Express who has become quite a phenomenon. like always I get the students to use my newspaper technique and they look for innovative cutting edge ideas. I have chosen my top 12 ideas for this grouping:

1. Water protection devices for cloth bandages. In my research I saw that the product has been developed in the USA but nobody is importing it into the country. A great opportunity.

2. Breakfast traffic service. As long as the city of cape town allows this a great brand during peak hour traffic would be wonderfull.

3.  A 2 -day storage box for shack fires. When there is a shack fire people need to store their goods for at least 2 days until they build another shack.

4. Mourning camps. Its easier to mourn in a group or online than as an individual and with high levels of violence we need this.

5. Mobile Beach lockers. My fave idea for now.

6. Gun-powder detector. I love this idea. If someone has any gunpowder on them it means take a wide berth from that person.

7. Lie detector system on phones. My second fave idea.

8.  Manufacture of local celeb latex masks. Julius malema must be our first one.

9. Car Key breathalyzer. Again it does look like it could be imported but every car manufacturer should be placing these on every key for a new car bought.

10. Automatic car indicator. Most accidents happen because of a lack of indication. This can only work on a GPS system. Quite controversial.

11. Heart rate monitor while driving

12. Production of a range of swings for low income areas

Hopefully one of these will become a huge success with a great new brand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What will trend in Innovation in 2014?

There are a few trends that should dominate my 2014.
The first is the innovation trend to extrapolate a small thing into many things. What I call innovation diversification. So when someone identifies an insect like the locust as a new food in the market the true entrepreneur will make 100 varieties of this same product. Chocolate ones should be good.
The second trend in South Africa will revolve around innovation in our national elections. How innovative will we be campaigning and who will deliver the most innovative campaigns that will catch the eye of the public. Julius malema’s red beret is a case in point. Well done Julius…good job!
The next trend will be how low income consumers adapt to very difficult economic conditions. I see a huge market for cheaper varieties and brands of soup, and bread ( note Mama Mimi’s) as well as beans ( the baked ones in tomato sauce being my favorite).
Another trend will be how foreigners bring in the mundane older concepts from their countries into South Africa and it becomes a big hit here. Like the Fondue from Switzerland ( remember the 70”s) or Schnapps from Austria. As we have some nay foreigners in South Africa all they need to do is to bring what they see as old and normal to us and we will love it. I think the Japanese have so much to offer here and I encourage a Chindogu store please.
Trending also will be the World Design Capital in Cape Town. New ideas, new innovations and I hope lead to some really exciting and edgy installations in my city.
I heard and interview with the new head of Primedia who said in relation to movie theaters quoted someone else who said, “ Theaters have been around for 1000 years and they will be around for another thousand years”. Really! Don’t think ill be investing in Primedia shares thank you if that’s the level of innovation and change form the new CEO.
Have a great, Innovative 2014!