From Simple Idea To Sideline Business: How Nkosenhle Hlophe Spotted An Opportunity

From Simple Idea To Sideline Business: How Nkosenhle Hlophe Spotted An Opportunity



Vital Stats

  • Player: Nkosenhle Hlophe
  • Company: Kenako Multimedia
  • About: Kenako Multimedia is an audio-visual company providing services to the events and marketing industry. Kenako is part of the Raizcorp ARIZE Supply Chain Services Programme.
  • Established: 2010
  • Visit:

Nkosenhle Hlophe came from a rural part of KwaZulu-Natal. Because of this, technology wasn’t part of his reality. In fact, he first touched a computer when he arrived at university.

Like most varsity students, though, he needed to make some money on the side, and he quickly realised that computers offered an excellent opportunity.

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Start as simple as possible

“It was a really simple idea,” says Hlophe. “There was this piece of software called Nero that allowed you to write data to CDs and DVDs. One of the additional features it offered was the ability to create slideshows from photos. So I bought some very basic equipment and started making slideshows for friends and family at R100 a disc.”

While doing this, Hlophe continued working towards a degree in geology. As he started his career, his side-line gig fell by the wayside for a while, but when it became clear that it was impossible to make ends meet on his meagre entry-level salary, he decided to resurrect it. He was back in the business of capturing memories.

Build momentum slowly and solidly

“The idea was to go to weddings and present slideshows of the couple during the reception. That’s how things started, but in time I began to branch out. I started sub-contracting photographers. I was not a photographer, but I realised that there was an opportunity in the photography space. There were talented photographers working in the area, but they weren’t focusing on the nitty gritty business side of things,” says Hlophe.

Hlophe was not a creative — nor was he trying to be. He saw himself as an enabler for creatives; someone who could manage the business and give structure to offerings.

“It’s important to understand your role as the entrepreneur,” says Hlope. “I started loving the audio-visual side of things, but I realised that I was not an expert. As we eventually moved into video, I briefly flirted with the idea of taking a course in editing, but I understood that editing was too time-intensive. It would have demanded all my time and energy. As the business owner, I needed to leave that to others.”

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Grow the business organically

Kenako Multimedia — as Hlophe would eventually come to call his operation — is a perfect example of a simple idea that was turned into a small sideline business, and eventually transformed into a successful company.

“I kept my job as a geologist for quite a while,” says Hlophe. “I made about R6 000 a month on the side, and I decided that I would go full-time once I could cover my basic expenses.”

When Hlophe started working in the business full time, he made sure to keep things lean. “We’ve never had any funding. All the growth has been organic.”

Service is everything

“Once we get clients on board, we don’t lose them. You are selling yourself when you sell a service, so it’s important to provide a great experience. We want the client to give us the audio-visual part of the business, and forget about it. We’ll handle everything,” says Hlophe.

“The content you provide is just one side of it. A client can typically get a product or service anywhere, which is why you need to sell the experience,” says Hlophe.

Kenako has grown from a wedding business to a full media company offering its services to conferences, marketing campaigns and have made inroads into television, producing their first show this year.

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Remember this

Sure, starting a business can be about following your passion, but it can also be about spotting an opportunity. Nkosenhle Hlophe identified an opportunity and turned it into a business. Only later did it become a true passion.

GG van Rooyen
GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.