Interview with me in Die Burger today

There's an interview with me about entrepreneurship in the business section of the print edition of Die Burger today.


1. What is the most common mistake start-up companies make in their first year of existence?

Overthinking their offering. I work with ventures that have spent two years and millions developing a product - and then are crushed when it goes to market and fails. "No plan survives contact with customers!" I encourage companies get a new offering out as soon as possible with minimum expenditure, find what works and what doesn't, and then redesign and redevelop from there. Let reality be your teacher, not your inner guru!

2. How do you see if a start-up has the potential to become something big?

There are customers waiting for their product. I teach entrepreneurs "If you want to make a billion rand, solve a billion rand problem". Too many entrepreneurs dream up an idea and then try to sell that to people. Great entrepreneurs first find what lots of people need, then they meet that need with superb services and products.

3. What is the first thing you tell a young entrepreneur when you start mentoring him/her?

Having a great team is essential. The idea is only 1%. Executing the idea flawlessly is what turns an idea into a great venture, and ideas are executed by people - so having a great team is actually the most important success factor for new ventures. I work with startups to help them create both a good team and a superb advisory board.

4. Since you started mentoring budding entrepreneurs, have you noticed any changes in the way people use technology or how they solve problems?

Yes - we now lived in a "merged world". Previously you went about your day in the real world. Then you sat down at your desk and entered the online world. They were two separate worlds.

Now those two worlds are becoming totally interleaved: there are multiple points of contact between them everywhere - mobile devices, smart watches, billboards, health monitors, in-car displays, till-points, Google Glasses, fridges connected to the Internet - the online and real worlds have become woven into a single world. Much of my work is now helping companies to move into this new world.

5. Which well known entrepreneur do you admire the most, and why?

Steve Jobs. Not just for his visionary genius, but for his amazing ability to execute on his vision. Apple is the world leader at nearly every point on their value chain, including for example retail - Apple's stores generate far more revenue per square metre than any other major retailer in the world. Vision plus execution = genius.