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The Founders of Zang Chocolate Are Fun, Feisty and Serious About Growth

Bringing a new product to the FMCG market is tough. You need the right product, partners and mindset. Here’s how the founders of Zang are getting it right.

Nadine Todd

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VITAL STATS

  • Players: Jethro Braun and Brett Horwitz
  • Company: Zang Chocolate
  • Launched: 2015
  • Visit:  www.zangchocolate.com

1. Find the right product

Friends and part-time entrepreneurs since varsity, chocolate wasn’t the initial grand plan for Brett and Jethro. “We started a printing business together while we were still at UCT,” says Brett. “We even had a few good clients, including Truworths and Hello Kitty, but it was a saturated market, and we realised we didn’t have a passion for it.”

Neither of them was a chocoholic either, so how did the idea for Zang develop? “We were exposed to an international caffeinated chocolate brand,” explains Jethro. “We really took to the idea. We didn’t look at it as a new chocolate that we wanted to bring to the market, but as an exciting new energy product. We’re a caffeine and energy company, delivered in a chocolate and not a drink.”

In fact, in chocolate form the caffeine has a slow release, and the cocoa fat means it’s a consistent release. “One small chocolate has the equivalent of half a cup of coffee’s worth of caffeine,” adds Jethro.

“We’d found something that we were excited about, and that we really believed the market would get behind as well.” It was time to find partners.

Related: How Do You Hit The Right Target Market For Your Business?

2. Find a great partner

zang-chocolate

Zang’s success is based on a number of important partnerships that Brett and Jethro have developed. First, the entrepreneurs needed a chocolatier to help them produce the product.

“We spent eight months searching for the right chocolatier,” says Jethro. “We kept reaching out to companies and they’d say, ‘no, we can’t do what you want’.” Eventually, they found Cocoa Fair, an entrepreneurial chocolatier in Cape Town.

“They were interested in the idea and willing to work with us to develop it,” explains Brett. “We spent months working on the right recipe and developing the process of combining chocolate and caffeine.

“We went there after hours, working together and mixing batch after batch of chocolate.”

 

For help with developing your business plan, download our free template here.

Work together to create something new

Today, Cocoa Fair is the sole supplier of Zang, and the successful partnership is based on the fact that two entrepreneurial businesses were willing to work together to create something new and exciting.

Product in hand, Jethro and Brett now needed to find an investor.

“FMCG products are extremely expensive to launch; you can’t bootstrap this kind of business if you want to target mainstream retail.”

Armed with research and a great pitch, the partners attracted the attention of Ian and Garth Solomon from Evolve Capital, but they wouldn’t commit to an investment until they’d run the idea past a friend, Grant Rushmere, the founder of Bos Ice Tea. “Ian wanted to hear whether Grant thought the product would find a market in South Africa,” explains Brett.

In fact, not only would Grant love the idea, but he wanted to partner with the start-up as well. “Grant had been working on a brand for a relaxation drink. He had the concept design, branding and name developed, but he thought our chocolate was a better fit for it than the relaxation drink he had been working on.”

The young entrepreneurs jumped on the idea. Not only were they receiving capital from Evolve, but an industry expert whose advice would be invaluable, not to mention the brand that he had developed. And so Zang caffeinated chocolate was born.

Partner for success

Finally, the partners contacted Pick n Pay’s incubation programme, which supports entrepreneurial businesses, and were placed on the national retailer’s listings for head office and family-owned stores.

“Without these partners our business wouldn’t be where it is today,” says Jethro.

“Developing good relationships is key to success, but you need to find the right people with whom you can work and share a vision.”

Related: 5 Ways To Market Your Business On A Limited Budget

3. Get noticed

zang-wrestlers

Zang had a soft launch at the end of 2014, with Jethro securing shelf and counter space in a few coffee shops, delis and forecourts in Cape Town. “We were looking specifically for places where we would be the only product on the counter or at the till, so that we’d get noticed,” says Jethro.

“You want people to feel like they’re seeing you everywhere. Bold packaging helps this, and so does placement.”

By April 2015, the business was ready for its official launch. “We needed to make a splash,” says Jethro. “Something that would get people talking.”

The activation was staged on First Thursday, and was based on massive nacho libre wrestlers giving people ‘pick me ups’ as the world’s first human taxi service. “We videoed it and put it on YouTube, but we received incredible local and international media coverage as well. It was fun, different and people wanted to talk about it and share it — the fact that we’d managed to come up with a concept that was a ‘world first’ meant we received international attention as well.”

At the final tally, R100 000 was spent on the activation, resulting in R300 000 worth of earned media. “Because it was editorial coverage, the earned media can be doubled as well,” says Brett. “That activation was worth R600 000.”

Keep convincing stores to stock you

And it did its job. People started talking about Zang. “Consumers wanted to try us, but more importantly, store buyers had heard of us,” says Jethro. “Even though we had a Pick n Pay listing, you still have to convince individual stores to stock you. For garage forecourts that can buy outside of head office listings, this makes even more of a difference.”

The business is being strategic about its messaging though. “Successful branding offers a simple but powerful message, and then builds on it,” explains Jethro. “First, we wanted to develop the idea that we were a Cape Town-based company, and the new kids on the block.

Develop a key differentiator

“Next was our key differentiator: We’re caffeinated chocolate. Once that message is entrenched, we can start working on the health benefits that we offer. We’re made from 100% cocoa butter, and therefore contain no palm oil.

“You need to build that brand message slowly; there’s no rush. You want people to understand and embrace your brand and message, and for that, you can’t bombard them with too much information at once.”

Related: 4 Keys To Boosting Your Growth Rate In 2017

4. Focus on cash flow

Cash flow is essential for both start-ups and established businesses. “It’s a balancing act,” explains Brett.

“Too much cash sitting in stock is dangerous. You need cash flow, and you want to maintain shelf life and freshness.”

As a result, the business works on an inventory system that makes more frequent orders to avoid sitting on stock. “Cocoa Fair is also an entrepreneurial business that needs cash flow, so they want COD terms, but they’ve given us a favourable rate in exchange.”

Are you looking for business funding? Look through our funding and resources guide for young entrepreneurs here.

5. Build your market

zang-chocolate-box

Even though Zang is on Pick n Pay’s main listing for head office and family-owned stores through the retailer’s incubator programme, Brett and Jethro don’t want to grow too quickly. “We don’t want to move too fast,” explains Brett.

“We need to learn the ‘Pick n Pay’ way and build a strong foundation before we grow further. Currently we’re on 600 listings. The system puts you on SAP, orders come through and you need to be able to deliver on them. If you don’t, you get a negative strike rating. That’s how products disappear off shelves and don’t get ordered again.”

“You need to be ready,” adds Jethro. “They opened us up to a large amount of stores. We listed with Pick n Pay and 300 orders for 300 stores came through. You need to make sure you’re ready for that kind of volume.”

“You can really damage your business and your brand if you get a listing, and orders come through, and you aren’t ready for it, either from a cash flow perspective, or because you can’t fill the order,” says Brett.

“The most important thing right now isn’t to grow our listings, but focus on the ones that we have. We need to saturate those listings, and then grow. We need to get our merchandising correct, and grow our base so that we can produce more to fill bigger orders — without damaging our cash flow. We’re in this for the long haul, and that takes strong foundations.”

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

Branding

5 Tips Every Entrepreneur Must Follow In Order To Build A Personal Brand That Sells

Personal branding, a service once reserved for politicians and superstars, is nowadays the key to entrepreneurial success. Personal branding is the venture of the future. It is the best investment you can make in yourself.

Karina Ochis

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Personal branding is a disciplined process meant to differentiate and elevate the brand owner from the competition. A clever personal brand entails a series of elements such as but not limited to strategy, logo, website, professional photos, social media platforms, social circles – depending on the goals of the entrepreneur.

Owning a personal brand not only ensures the entrepreneur sells more, it also increases legitimacy, transforms the entrepreneur into a respected thought leader, attracts investors and partners and ensures overall upward mobility.

Even though branding is a current buzzword, proper personal branding remains a mystery for most entrepreneurs. To navigate this intricate process, read the following real-life tips for brand building and reputation management.

1. You are not born a brand, you become a brand

From Oprah to Obama and Ellen to Elvis, every grand personal brand was once a mere mortal – just like you. They had a dream and they hustled just like you. Personal branding when done right is interlinked with personal development. Through an intricate process and an array of strategic actions, entrepreneurs just like you became world-wide leaders.

  • Branding is an ongoing process.
  • When in doubt, ask for professional help; an entire team is involved in managing a brand.
  • Do not compare your first week to someone’s 40th year.

Related: Personal Brand Or Business Brand: Which Is More Important?

2. Do not be a copycat

Good brands get replicated. Great brands cannot be replicated. If you want to own an average brand, go ahead and copy one. However, you will only be able to copy another brand up to 80% and usually the remaining 20% makes the difference. If you aim to be special, you should incorporate your authentic self into the brand – showcase your mission, vision and story. If you cannot do your business at a superior or different level from your competition, you should probably be doing something else!

3. Stable is better than spectacular

  • In the world of Elon Musk and Richard Branson, the brand of the average entrepreneur may seem quite dull. Remember though that your mission is to receive legitimacy to sell your services not appear in the tabloids.
  • You do not want to be a one hit wonder. You want to be in business for many years. Focus on building a stable base for your brand that will evolve and develop throughout time.

4. You network really is your net worth

  • Who you surround yourself with is who you become. You know it, but are you implementing it?
  • Every business is run by an inner circle of individuals; befriend them! The creme de la creme have specific mannerisms and a characteristic way of doing business. Learn to speak, act and behave that way.
  • Before you break the rules, you should know the rules. You learn the rules when you are at the right place with the right people.
  • When your potential customer sees you with accomplished entrepreneurs, you receive instant validation.
  • Your friends with a bad reputation might be costing you brand equity.

Related: The 3 Biggest Mistakes CEOs Make With Their Personal Brand (And How To Turn Those Mistakes Around)

5. Brand building is a life-long game

  • Building a brand that sells takes time. You are not selling a product in the supermarket, you are selling a perception. Every online and offline interaction potential clients have with your personal brand straightens or decreases its value. The ROI is often slow in the beginning.
  • Once your brand is established, the world or some part of it will be at your feet!

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Branding

3 Mind Hacks For Overcoming Your Fear Of Marketing Yourself

Take it one step at a time. You get nowhere until you put yourself out there.

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When I first started my business, I was so uncomfortable about marketing myself and putting myself out there. For most of us, that’s not something we were raised to do or taught in school. Many of us are taught the opposite.

These days, I see many of my clients struggling with this same challenge. They aren’t sure what to say when asked, “What do you do?” Or they’re afraid to go out and market their product or services.

They’re afraid they don’t have enough experience, or are not an expert and people won’t want to hire them.

The only way to get experience is to get some business. And that requires marketing. So what can you do? The key is to get yourself in the right mindset. Here are three mind hacks to help you overcome your fear of marketing yourself:

1. You only have to be one or two steps ahead

If you are offering a service, you only have to be a step or two ahead of someone to be able to help. If you’re offering a product, you only need to know a little more about the product than they do to help them make an informed choice.

It’s also okay to tell people that you’re just starting out or to say you’ve reduced pricing for a limited time in order to build your new business and gather testimonials.

Keep reminding yourself that you don’t need to be at the finish line – whatever that may be for you. You only need to be a little ahead of the people you want to help. Everyone starts somewhere. As Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that step.

Related: It’s Okay To Promote Yourself – In Fact, It’s Necessary. Here’s How To Do It Better

2. Get clear on your message

clear-marketing-message

When you have a clear message, and you know it inside and out, it can give you a much needed boost of confidence to get out there. That confidence has the added benefit of drawing people to you.

Obviously, your business evolves as you evolve. Your message might change with time, but it’s important you start out with one that is clear and consistent – something that gets you excited so others can feel your excitement and confidence.

Create a statement about what you do, and make sure it aligns with your values.

Distinguish yourself by including the following info:

  • The issue or complaint your ideal client is facing
  • How you can help them
  • The shift – the benefit or outcome of your product/service

Here’s an example. You know how some people are living a life others want for them, instead of doing what makes them feel good? I guide people on how to ask themselves powerful questions to figure out what they truly want, what fuels them, so that they can be the CEO of their life and business.

I could just say what I am – a coach. And so could you. But when you say it, people will just think of the last person they met who does something similar. A clear, consistent and exciting message makes you stand out.

3. Get your feet wet

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda.

These words may have been uttered by a fictional character, but their meaning is very real.

If you want to get into the mindset of doing something, do it! It’s okay if you’re uncomfortable initially. You’re doing something out of your comfort zone.

Welcome to entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, you will always be doing something out of your comfort zone. That’s what keeps your business moving to new levels. You are always trying, testing and trying again. It’s not about the failures or missteps. It’s about the doing.

Related: 5 Steps To Becoming A More Recognisable Brand

Go to networking events, go where your target clients hang out (online or offline), join a group or just start speaking to one person at a time about what you do. It truly does get easier and easier.

It’s the same when it comes to selling your product or services. Reach out to one person or one company at a time. You’ll start out with one client, then two. And with each client, your confidence builds.

Take it one step at a time. If you have a fear of speaking in public, go to Toastmasters to practice speaking and overcoming objectives. If you have a fear of contacting someone by email or phone, commit to just one a day, then five a day, then 10 a day. Take it step by step. It doesn’t have to be a big step, but it does have to be a real step.

Whatever fears come up, remember they’re normal. This is something totally new for you. It takes time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Those thoughts in your head that prevent you from moving forward, the ones that want to keep you safely in your comfort zone, you need to identify them and reprogram them with thoughts that will help you create the successful life and business you want.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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The Real Value Of Building A Brand

Young people today are likely to join or stay with a company, even if the pay is less, if they feel they belong and are part of the team.

Kyle Rolfe

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What is your company’s brand? That may sound like a strange question and the answer could range from thinking about your logo or colour scheme, or the values you frame and put on the wall in your reception area. But that is not what your brand is.

Let me ask you another question: what do customers and employees think when your company’s name is mentioned? Do they think you are a great bunch of people who go the extra mile to deliver on your promises, or do they think you’re a bunch of incompetents who always deliver late and below standard? Do employees think their company is money driven and couldn’t care about people?

What do these people feel when your company is mentioned or when they see your logo? Do they have positive feelings about the company and certain employees they deal with, or do they cringe and hope not to have to deal with you again?

The answers to those questions is your brand. It’s the ability to articulate and deliver on the promise your company makes to the market. It is the integrated result of the values the company leaders hold and the values they inculcate into their employees through their actions. It’s the quality and usefulness of your products or services, and how you deal with customers. And it’s how you promote and operate the company. All these things are your brand.

While the company’s executives are key to developing the brand and all it stands for, the brand promise is the who, what, where, when and how of all you do; the sum of all the company’s interactions with the market and internally with each other. Gartner indicates that companies that prioritise the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.

Who you are and what you stand for is critical to companies in today’s market where trust is a rare commodity (86% of US and European customers says their trust in corporations has declined over the last five years). Your promise to the market and your ability to fulfil it again and again engenders that trust, which puts you at the top of the pile when it comes to competition.

Related: Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?

When it comes to your product or service, are you the first name that comes to mind because you are a trusted partner? Do your employees deliver on time and to or above the standard expected as far as is possible? Do your employees represent the company in a natural, proactive manner because they are invested in the company and its culture? Or do they do the minimum to get by and collect their pay at the end of the month?

There’s much talk about company culture in the media, but most of these articles miss the most important aspects of culture, buy-in and commitment. When your employees value the culture they are part of, when they feel they belong and are valued, it shows in their commitment to the company, each other and to their customers. Did you know that between 60% and 75%of customers will do business with a company again if it deals with a customer service issue fairly, even if the result is not in their favour?

In fact, young people today are likely to join or stay with a company, even if the pay is less, if they feel they belong and are part of the team.

Customers are the same. While everyone wants to pay the least possible for a product or service, your brand and the associated value (and positive feelings) customers associate with you means you don’t have to cut margins to the bone to get the job. Customers will pay a bit more (within reason) to ensure they get the full package – product, service, support etc.

So your brand, its value and standing in the minds of people includes the marketing and brand building you do, but the promise you make (sometimes unknowingly) to each customer and each employee is what is critical to success. That promise is made up of the products and services you have on offer, if you are meeting the real needs of the customer. It depends on your culture and how valued and appreciated your employees feel, which extends to how they value and treat your customers. And finally, all that impacts customer service, how you react when there is a problem and what you do to keep your promise and develop and maintain their trust in good times and bad.

Brand enthusiasts are welcome to follow Kyle Rolfe’s latest thoughts on brand building in South Africa and his analysis on relevant global trends and issues via Twitter @kylerolfeSA or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/kyle-rolfe-brand-engineer.

Related: How Snapchat Can Expand Your Brand [Infographic]

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