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Deepend Post Differentiates Itself In A Crowded Niche

Paulene Abrey and Luaan Hong from Deepend Post prove that there is always room for new ideas, even in very crowded markets.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital Stats

  • Players: Paulene Abrey and Luaan Hong
  • Company: Deepend Post
  • Established: 2007
  • Contact: +27 (0)11 100 1806
  • Website: deependpost.com

Great business partners almost always have a prior history of working with each other. In 2007, when Paulene Abrey and Luaan Hong left their jobs at a big post-production company to launch Deepend Post, they were two experienced producers in search of an editor and a fresh way of doing business in a long-established industry.

They agreed on the vision for their new venture, including their understanding of the company’s value proposition, and how they wanted it to be seen by their clients — primarily production companies and advertising agencies.

The two share similar skills, but have brought their different personalities and experiences to bear on the business, which now employs ten people and a range of freelancers.

Related: Sonia Booth Wants You To Reinvent Yourself

A union of craftsmanship

You might think that a crowded post-production market would not have room for new ideas, but they have proved that marrying good old-fashioned craft with technology can give rise to profitable creativity.

“The talent of our editors is the foundation of the business,” says Abrey. “We carefully and strategically handpick people who are unselfish and passionate about what they do. Each editor has to fit in with the brand, but also bring their own unique approach and skill set to their work. The best way to give people freedom to explore their creativity and fulfil their potential is to create an environment that is nurturing, with solid foundations, and that also gives them space to fly. We have a mix of skilled editors who understand the value of their craft, and technology-savvy newcomers who are young and creative. Together, they are able to offer our customers a unique blend of creativity that comes from combining different skills.”

It’s that distinctive blend that continues to drive sales for the business and keeps customers coming back. With the right people and the right talent, Abrey adds, success follows. In the creative field this requires a mix of instinct and emotion. “When you find unique talent, you have to allow it to develop. Dealing with creative people is all about giving and understanding.”

Looking beyond the surface of things

Deepend-Post-south-africa

The key, Abrey and Hong stress, is believing in what you are doing and being responsive to customers’ needs — after all, they are the ones that keep pushing the Deepend team. They say it’s an old-fashioned approach as they have a personal relationship with the people they work with — they care, and their clients can feel it.

“We provide a nurturing environment for our clients too,” says Hong. “They have everything they need to provide great advertising for their clients because we take care of every detail, no matter how big or small.”

It’s about identifying needs, fulfilling promises, and finishing what you start, according to Hong. “Our unique brands require that you understand them and the DNA — including picture, story and concept.”

What differentiates the way Deepend Post does things is interesting in a flat economy. With people and businesses so wrapped up in time and money, many neglect to deliver in line with client needs. The true understanding of a brand is often breezed over and little time is given to the true worth of the client.

“We look at the uniqueness each brand has to offer and then help our clients to elevate that,” says Hong. “Working for success generates success. In our case a lot of what we do is storytelling; we help to grow our clients by helping them to constantly evolve their stories.”

Related: Quick Shift Deva Kate Emmerson On Crowdfunding

The ability to drive creative talent

In many industries, creativity makes the difference between a good company, and a great one. A culture of creativity allows greater innovation, more effective problem solving, and a matchless competitive edge.

“In our business, technology has made certain skills a commodity, but the talents of individual creative people have distinguished the business. Luaan and I share a deep-rooted conviction that people really matter — that leaders are responsible for developing the capabilities of employees, and nurturing their careers.

“We have a young editor who is studying in Hollywood, and she tells us she cannot wait to return. We have helped her grow; in exchange, she will bring her newly acquired, carefully honed skills back into Deepend. Giving and taking is essential.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. 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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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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