For Selebogo ’Dr Lifesgud‘ Molefe, the entrepreneurial bug bit early. Getting a business off the ground would take a bit longer, but Molefe is nothing if not tenacious, able to spot a gap, and willing to find innovative ways to see his ideas come to fruition.
With no money to attend university, Molefe took odd jobs to pay the bills before applying for a learnership at the Services SETA. Through the SETA he was placed at a facilities management company, where he would spend five years after completing his internship. He might have been fully employed, but that didn’t stop him from being on the lookout for great business ideas.
“A friend of mine designed clothes, and we hit on the idea of hosting house parties to promote his brand. We lived in a rented house and we soon became known for great events,” he says.
One idea led to the next and Molefe realised that they spent a lot of their hard earned cash on hiring bean bags for these events.
“It wasn’t until someone asked if they could rent bean bags from us that I saw the business opportunity,” he says.
By 2008 the company Lifesgud had been formed with partner Phakiso Tsotetsi, manufacturing bean bags that they used for the events, sold and hired out. “I’m a born salesman. Everyone at the firm I worked at had a bean bag,” he laughs. It wasn’t until the company joined the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship that things took a significant turn though. Lifesgud still assists corporates and sell bean bags – but they do so much more as well.
The Branson Centre’s focus is on assisting entrepreneurs to build and grow sustainable businesses. “The first question they asked us was, ‘Do you want to be an advanced business or a bean bag company?’” says Molefe.
“We had been selling a decent amount of bean bags, but it was also very clear that we had no real differentiator. We needed to review what we were doing.”
On closer inspection, Molefe’s differentiator was clear — and it wasn’t the bean bags. “I’m a salesman, and I create great events that bring people together. We were selling bean bags because I had developed good corporate contacts and I assist them in creating pause areas and great office environments, with branded bean bags as an addition to the service we offer.” So, how else could this skills set be used?
The Hookup Dinner
Add the ability to host great events, a love of entrepreneurship, and an innate understanding of the importance of networking, and what do you get? Molefe launched The Hookup Dinner concept with the idea of creating a ‘tribe’ of entrepreneurs who could network and help each other through shared ideas, lessons and contacts.
“We were aiming for ten to 20 people, but word spread like wildfire. There’s a deep need for these events.”
Hosted on the first Friday of every month, The Hookup Dinner is hosted at The Open in Maboneng Precinct in Joburg. The last dinner prior to print had 263 attendees, with a further 685 who were turned down for this dinner.
“It’s a first come, first served model. You email us, and we fill the spots. If you don’t make it, we encourage you to try again next month.” The website has a countdown clock, as well as how many seats have already been booked.
The huge demand has led to the partners launching more dinners across the country. Molefe has approached corporate sponsors to fund each event.
“The sponsors are looking for a captive audience. They get a chance to speak to the entrepreneurs, who in turn get an excellent networking opportunity that they do not have to pay for.” SAB Kickstart also recently came on board, extending the event’s reach even further.
The partners have also made sure they’ve got a good mix of business owners and corporate players to ensure the best possible networking can take place.
“At each session an established entrepreneur is invited to speak, and the smaller businesses can pitch their ideas and concepts, which everyone then gives feedback on. It’s a great, safe environment for fine-tuning your pitch – and you never know who might be there listening.”
- Players: Phakiso Tsotetsi and Selebogo ’Dr Lifesgud‘ Molefe
- Company: The Hookup Dinner
- Est: 2012
- Website: www.thehookupdinner.com