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Customers Will Pay For Amazing Experiences – If You Deliver Explains Karabo Sepharatla

Karabo Sepharatla understands that at the end of the day, people will pay you for amazing experiences – you just need to know how to deliver what they want. Here’s how he found a niche and is living his passions because of it.

Nadine Todd

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Karabo-Sepharatla

Vital Stats

  • Player: Karabo Sepharatla
  • Company: Camping Khapela
  • Launched: 2014
  • What they do: Camping butler service for holidays, weekend getaways and festivals.
  • Visit: www.campingkhapela.com

For as long as I can remember, I’d wanted to be an entrepreneur. The problem was that although I knew I wanted to be a business owner, I didn’t know of what.

My first foray into entrepreneurship was instant photos at events. I left SAB, bought a camera, and started photographing kids’ parties. I’d met a guy named Bruce, and he had an instant photo booth that he set up at clubs and events. I thought this was a great idea for the black market, and for a while it was; it paid the bills. But that was all it did. It took me a few months to realise that although I was now my own boss, I was coasting along. I certainly wasn’t passionate about what I was doing.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but I closed the business and took a part-time position as a brand rep for Glenfiddich.

Related: Don’t Let People Dissuade You from Following your Dream – Polo Leteka Radebe

Find Your Passion

I realise now that I needed to figure out what I was passionate about. I’d always loved camping, but somehow I never saw any black women at campsites. It became a bit of an agenda for me: Where were the black honeys? With this percolating in the back of my mind, I went with a few friends to a festival in Mozambique in June 2014.

We packed tents and meat. That’s it. Meanwhile, we went with a group of mates who ran a VIP security business, and they were kitted out: 4×4, tents, full camping equipment — they even hired someone at the campsite to clean the camp and cook for them. They were having a full-service experience. We didn’t even have a cup of coffee.

On the way home I started taking stock of things: I knew I was passionate about people, travelling, my country and camping. There seemed to be a noticeable lack of black people camping. And camping with all the bells and whistles is infinitely more comfortable than ‘roughing’ it with nothing.

Was there a business idea here? Would the middle and upper-middle class black market pay for a full-service camping experience?

I started asking around. Why did black people not camp? It turned out that a lot of the reason lay in the misconception that camping is all about roughing it, but I knew it didn’t need to be. Another problem was lack of knowledge: Where to go? What was available? And finally, equipment. This was a market new to camping, and so investing in expensive camping equipment wasn’t an option. My business idea started to take shape.

By September I was ready to leave my job and dive in with both feet. I had one paycheque and no clear plan, but I knew that it was now or never. I’d already bought a Kombi, but that was the sum total of what I had: A vehicle and an idea.

There’s No Time Like The Present

Karabo-Sepharatla-Camping-Khapela

And then I had a stroke of luck. I was sitting in the car listening to Powerfm, and Azania Mosaka was saying that black people don’t camp. So I called in. As it happened, I had a company that helped black people camp in style. We took care of everything.

They asked me for my details. While I was live on air, I’d been updating my twitter profile and handle to Camping Khapela. I gave them my twitter account, email address and phone number. And just like that, Camping Khapela was in business.

I received my first eight enquiries within an hour. One of those would end up being my first client: A gentlemen with four friends who wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Coffee Bay. Five nights, five people — could I do it? Absolutely I said, googling like mad and hoping that Coffee Bay was in South Africa. I told him that I was currently on a trip, but that I’d have a quote ready for him in two days. And then I got busy.

Related: 7 Up And Coming SA Businesses To Watch

The Power Of Word-Of-Mouth

Vusi Thembekwayo always says that the best businesses are built around clients who pay upfront for your product or service. With that in mind, I went out and purchased everything I needed, and then took that bill, and divided it by five people over five nights. And that was my quote.

The next day I received a deposit, with the remainder of the invoice due at the beginning of the trip. I didn’t make anything on that first trip, but my equipment was paid for, and that’s all I really needed to get started. I also set up an Instagram account and we uploaded images throughout the trip.

That’s really been how this business has grown. Word of mouth referrals and social media have been incredible tools for me. My guests post photos of their trips and tag us; you can’t pay for that kind of marketing.

In many cases this is something new for the market I’m targeting, and so referrals are all my potential guests care about. If someone they know and trust had fun, they’re willing to give me a chance. Every trip we do is a walking billboard.

Selling The Experience

At the end of the day, you need to understand what you’re selling, and what we sell is an experience. We’ve made it completely hassle-free, and take care of everything. We’ll go where you want to go, or make suggestions based on what you’re looking for. We book everything, set up the camp and cook for you.

We also support local communities. On the way down to wherever we’re going, we stop at the local produce markets for all of our food. It’s a great way to experience South Africa’s local communities.

And what I’ve learnt about myself and entrepreneurship is that it’s all about the passion. I always knew I wanted to run my own business, but it took finding something I’m passionate about for that dream to become a reality. Never discount the importance of passion. Once you have that, the rest will fall into place.

Related: 7 Business Tips From The 3 Way Marketing Group Founders

Remember this

Entrepreneurship can be tough and lonely. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, it’s unlikely to be a success.

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

Lessons Learnt

(Podcast) ‘Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern: ‘I’m Addicted To The Hustle’

How this week’s ‘How Success Happens’ guest overcame personal struggles and built an empire.

Dan Bova

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andrew-zimmern

I didn’t know what to expect when we scheduled an interview over breakfast with today’s guest Andrew Zimmern. As you may know, the chef, writer, restaurateur and TV personality made a name for himself traveling the world and eating some, well, bizarre foods on his hit travel/food show, Bizarre Foods.

Turns out our breakfast was pretty normal – we didn’t dig into a fresh plate of scrambled brains or anything – but the conversation was anything but typical.

Over the past couple of years, Zimmern has built a true empire around his name with books, TV shows, restaurants (including his new Twin Cities joint Lucky Cricket), and a production company, but as he very candidly told me, the road to success has not been easy. He has gone through a lot of personal pain on his journey, and he says it is a daily endeavour to keep himself moving on the right track.

As Zimmern explained, over the course of his life, he’s had problems with substance abuse, depression – even homelessness – and he was very open about sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way about coping and finding redemption. We also spoke about his dear friend, Anthony Bourdain, and about the struggles of feeling overwhelmed that most of us face.

Related: Gareth Cliff Shares His Tips For Starting Your Very Own Podcast

But don’t get me wrong, he’s really funny, too! There’s nothing “normal” about Andrew Zimmern. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation, thanks for listening.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Lessons Learnt

How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies

Developments in technology, and clear communication are positioning BrightRock to disrupt their industry and transform the consumer experience.

Monique Verduyn

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brightrock

Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit: www.brightrock.co.za

BrightRock was started around a dining room table in 2011 by four people with years of industry experience and — importantly — a diverse set of complementary skills.  They wanted to make changes to an industry with an age-old methodology by allowing customers to co-create a solution that precisely meets their individual needs, and adjusts as those needs change. Today, BrightRock is the fastest-growing insurer in the intermediated individual life risk market. It also provides underwriting management services to funeral parlour businesses and, more recently, has entered the group risk insurance market, offering its needs-matched approach to employees.

The founders of BrightRock, established in 2011, knew the life insurance industry all too well, and they found its methodology wanting. “Traditional life insurance lumps all the individual’s needs into one policy,” says CEO Schalk Malan.

“It’s a methodology that has been around for centuries. We started afresh and looked at how we could design life insurance based on individual requirements. Our cover is designed to exactly match each specific financial need. Because there is no waste, it’s more cost efficient and sustainable. And if circumstances change and our customer needs more cover, it’s easy to get it because needs-matched design enables the policy to change in line with changing needs.”

1. Embracing digital technology to provide needs-matched insurance

Suzanne Stevens, marketing executive director at BrightRock, points out that this type of innovation achieves efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (higher returns). “By harnessing digital technology, we have made our operations more efficient, and aggressively lowered costs by up to 30% for our customers. Every rand they spend with us works harder for them. That’s the benefit of a solution designed around the customer.”

BrightRock’s founders took a similar approach. ‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Unlike clunky legacy systems, BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

2. Effective communication is critical

These disruptors have set themselves above the rest through one surprisingly simple tactic —  effective communication. They agree that it simply doesn’t matter how world-changing your product or service is if you don’t communicate it to the right audience at the right time. New companies that fail to communicate their remarkable new development will quickly be pushed aside by other disruptors. Without a clear communication strategy that reaches the audience in the industry you’re trying to disrupt, you’ll set yourself up for failure. A key question to ask when you are developing your communication strategy is simply whether people understand what you do.

“Because the premise for our product was fundamentally different from anything on the market, communication and clear messaging were critical to convincing our clients to put their trust in us,” says Schalk.

“It was especially important to educate insurance advisors so they would understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it was better than the other options available. That was key to disrupting the individual life market.”

Currently, BrightRock employs 380 staff, has experienced 40% year-on-year growth, and has an annualised premium income of more than R1,3 billion. The company has recently entered the group risk environment with a similar offering that addresses many of the same shortcomings of traditional group risk products. “The inefficiencies of the structuring of group products has meant that, to remain competitive, insurers have cut the benefits offered to employees, undermining their sense of financial security. Change is needed, and we believe our needs-matched philosophy positions us to change the group risk market too.”

‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Unlike clunky legacy systems, the BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

This iterative, modular approach typically begins with defining the strategy and programme plan upfront, delivering a core capability fast so it can provide benefits immediately, and then continuously improving with regular, incremental capability improvements to achieve the objectives of the strategy. It’s an approach that fosters closer collaboration between stakeholders, improved transparency, earlier delivery, greater allowance for change and more focus on the business outcomes.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

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Lessons Learnt

The 9 Obsessions You Need To Have To Become A Self-Made Millionaire

Here’s how to stay focused on your millionaire goals.

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elon-musk

The ones who succeed weren’t handed a golden ticket; it wasn’t chance that helped them cultivate their fortune. To reach millionaire status, you must be driven to reach your dreams. You must be obsessed in order to be successful.

These are the nine obsessions that give every self-made millionaire an edge in creating success and wealth.

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