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Lessons Learnt

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




Vital Stats

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

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


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+.

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Lessons Learnt

#Wealthiest List: 8 Self-Made Millionaires On How They Built Their Wealth

These inspirational self-made millionaires built businesses with nothing less than hard work and sheer determination.

Catherine Bristow



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1. Nick D’Aloisio Wrote a Million Dollar App At Age 15


At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio wrote an app while sitting in his parent’s bedroom in the UK. At the age of 17, D’Aloisio sold his app Summly – a mobile news summarisation app to Yahoo for a staggering USD 30 million.

As one of the youngest millionaires, D’Aloisio is also the world’s youngest entrepreneur to be backed by venture capitalists – having secured seed funding from Sir Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s billionaire, as well as raising USD 1.23 million from celebrity investors, including Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher.

“The number one thing I did that I think was wise was to get, through some of my advisers, was a Chairman; basically someone who was a very experienced business person, an industry veteran — Bart Swanson, who had been at Amazon and then Badoo. Then, myself and Bart really started finding people and growing the team.”

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Lessons Learnt

7 Cannabis Industry Millionaires Making It Big In The Marijuana Business

These entrepreneurs have capitalised on a new market set to continue to grow rapidly as more countries legalise marijuana across the world.

Catherine Bristow



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1. Brendan Kennedy


Brendan Kennedy worked on job sites as a carpenter to pay his way through university, with his eyes set firmly on becoming an architect, until the allure of Silicon Valley changed the course of his direction. While working at technology start-ups Kennedy began thinking about the possibilities that medical marijuana provided.

“I was really sceptical of medical cannabis,” he says. “It took a year of having conversations with patients and physicians and hearing the same story, repackaged but essentially the same, over and over and over again, where my scepticism eroded and I became a believer.”

In 2013, Kennedy and his partners applied for a licence from Health Canada and launched Lafitte Ventures, which was later renamed Tilray. Today, the company is a global leader in medical cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution.

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Lessons Learnt

Scaleup Learnings From Our Top Clients – What The Most Successful Entrepreneurs Do Right

So, how do our successful clients move through these constraints to scaling up? We see four key drivers of success, and they are: people, strategy, flawless execution and finance.

Louw Barnardt




You’re out of your start-up boots, staff is increasing, your client base is growing, revenue is up and you’ve proven your case to the market. Now it’s time to scale up. The challenges of this vital growth phase are different and it’s a time that demands different mindsets and different actions. In a world littered with small business failures, it helps to be well-prepared for scaling up using a proven methodology. At Outsourced CFO, we get an inside look at the success factors of our clients who are mastering the transition.

On the one hand, scaling up is a really exciting phase; this is what moves you into real job creation and making an impactful contribution to economic growth. On the other hand, it is really hard to scale up successfully. We see three major constraints that limit companies’ transition from start-up to scale-up:


The business has to have the leadership that can take it to the next level. When you start scaling up, especially rapidly, the founders can no longer do everything themselves. The team must grow and include new leadership talent that can take charge and execute so that the founders are working on the business instead of in the business.


The processes, procedures, networks, systems and workflows of the business all need to be scalable. This is imperative when it comes to your infrastructure for the financial management of your business. You’re only ready for growth when your infrastructure can seamlessly keep pace.

Market access

Scaling up demands more innovative marketing and storytelling so that you can more easily connect and engage with the new employees, clients, network partners, investors and mentors that need to come along with you on your scale-up journey.

Businesses that build a market conversation and a compelling brand narrative during their start-up phase are better positioned to have this kind of market access when they need to scale up.


It is critical to have the right people on your team. Our successful entrepreneurs have what it takes to attract, inspire and retain top talent. A strong team of smart, ambitious and purpose-driven people who love the company and want to see it succeed contribute greatly to a world class company culture. They are adept at communicating a compelling vision and establishing core values that people can take on. These entrepreneurs are tuned into the aspirations of their people and focus on developing leaders in their teams who can in turn develop more leaders.


It is planning that ensures that the right things are happening at the right times. At successful scale-ups strategies and action plans are devised to ensure that the most important thing always remains the most important thing.

Strategy includes input from all team members and setting of good priorities for the short, medium and long term. Goals are clear and everyone always knows what they are working towards. The needle is continuously moved because 90-day action plans are implemented each quarter to achieve targets and goals that are over and above people doing their daily jobs.

Flawless execution

Top entrepreneurs are not just focused on what operations need to achieve, but how the business operates. They have the right procedures, processes and tools in place so that everyone can deliver along the line on the company’s brand promise. Frequent, quick successive meetings ensure the rapid flow of effective communication. Problems are solved without drama. There is no chaos in the office environment. Everyone is empowered to execute flawlessly to an array of consistently happy clients.


Everyone knows that growth burns cash. A rapidly scaling business faces the challenge of needing a scalable financial infrastructure to keep the company healthy. Our successful entrepreneurs pay close attention to finance as the heartbeat of the business, ensuring that everything else functions. They look at the tech they are using for financial management and for the ways that their financial systems can be automated so that they can be brought rapidly to scale. The capital to grow is another vital finance issue.

The best way to finance a business is through paying clients on the shortest possible cash flow cycle. However, when you are scaling up and making heavier investments in the resources you need for growth, it is likely that you will need a workable plan for raising capital. Our scale-up clients know the value of accessing innovative financial management that provides high level services to drive their business growth.

Navigating the scale-up journey of a growing private company is one of the hardest but most rewarding of careers to pursue. Having people in your corner who have been through this journey before helps take a lot of pain out of the process. No growth journey looks the same, but there are tried and tested methods that will – if applied diligently – lead to definite success. Happy scaling!

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