Entrepreneurs are either product or money focused

Ideally every startup should have at least two founders.A product guy and a money guy.The product guy focuses on making the best product in the world.The money guy focuses on making sure the product makes money.When you ask the product guy “Why do you do this?” his answer is “Because I want to educate the…

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Entrepreneurs own the .com for their brand

I seem to have endless arguments over the importance of owning the URL that exactly corresponds to your company name, or in the case where your company name is irrelevant to consumers, your product name.Of course, Paul Graham, my go-to-guy for startup advice, has a blog on the subject: Change your name.Perhaps you think this is just a…

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Entrepreneurs build committed teams

The committed player takes calls at all hours, and always returns them ASAP. The uncommitted player only takes calls when it suits him and never returns calls.The committed player sees no task as beneath his station. If sweeping the stoep helps the team, he sweeps the stoep. The uncommitted player only does tasks that befit…

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7 tricks to keeping calm in Joburg

I find when I’m in Joburg I rapidly become jittery, over-energised, and prone to road rage. This is not good for the heart, the soul, or for making good first impressions.The easiest solution is to never visit Joburg. Resign yourself to the quiet life, sit on Camps Bay beach every day and never move the…

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How to pitch to a South African angel investor

  Many youngsters rock up at my door asking for money to chase their dreams. Some of the ideas are great, but the pitch is amateurish.If you can’t execute your pitch, most investors will assume you can’t execute, period.Here are some tips. These are not Silicon Valley tips. These are tips for pitching to South…

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How do you find partners you can trust?

I am regularly asked how does one find co-founders or partners in business. In other words, how can you tell whether you can trust someone?First, its important to understand that trust is not only about integrity. Its temperament, a shared worldview and values.Some people panic when faced with problems, you definitely don’t want them as shareholders or…

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Entrepreneurs build trusting teams

“Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda Respect, or the lack thereof, is the foundation of the culture of a company. In our company we show respect to everyone, regardless of race, income or status. Respect is shown by observing cultural norms. Learn the culture of your colleagues. Remember the basics: Greet…

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Titles are not important

I remember when I started by first business: Cellfind. The most exciting moment was printing business cards with the title Managing Director.I was the man! I’m the chief! See my business card? Business cards never lie.Since then I’ve learnt a couple lessons. I’ve swung between thinking titles are super-important (iBurst), to banning them in the…

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How I made myself anti-fragile to coffee

Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, was a game changer to me. The theory is to set up your life in such a way that not only are you resilient to shocks, you actually benefit when adversity strikes.One of the best examples he uses is debt. Debt makes you fragile. If interest rates go up or the…

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My conclusion after 530,000km of travelling in South Africa

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group compared South Africa to its global peers: Algeria, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Peru, IndonesiaReally? Algeria is a peer of our? Egypt?Apparently our advanced peer group comprises countries with GDP/capita 200% greater than SA and includes Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey.Anyone who has travelled to any…

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Extracts from Zero to One: Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Start-up thinkingNew technology tends to come from new ventures – start-ups. Small groups of people bound together by a sense of mission have changed the world for the better. The easiest explanation for this is negative: it’s hard to develop new things in big organisations, and it’s even harder to do it by yourself. Bureaucratic…

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4 tips for angel investors in SA

There are two kinds of businesses you can invest in:Those with a variable cost of sale (consulting firms selling hours or retailers selling stock), and those without a variable cost of sale (IP businesses).The former brings returns that are a function of capital employed, whilst generally carrying a lower risk.The latter brings returns that are…

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