Connect with us

Lessons Learnt

How Bataung Memorials’ Lebohang Khitsane Disrupted The Age-Old Tombstone Industry

Bataung Memorials is a company that has brought the latest technology to an industry that few people would associate with innovation. It shows that just about every field is ripe for disruption.

GG van Rooyen

Published

on

lebohang-khitsane

Vital stats

It’s hard to think of an industry that seems further removed from the modern tech world than tombstone services. It is an age-old industry that has largely remained unchanged, right? Well, no; not really.

The truth of the matter is, technology has become integral to every industry. No company can afford to ignore the latest advancements, including those involved in tombstone and memorial services.

Bataung Memorials is a great example of a company that has enjoyed tremendous success because it brought fresh ideas and new technologies into an industry that was ready for disruption.

Here’s how founder Lebohang Khitsane turned a small tombstone business into an industry leader:

1Find a neglected industry

Industries such as tombstone services don’t often spring to mind when thinking of business ideas. Everyone wants a cool tech company, but what about a business that creates tombstones and organises memorial services? That doesn’t sound as sexy and exciting.

But the fact of the matter is that it is often in these overlooked segments where great opportunities can be found. South Africa is a particularly good example of this, since it has a high mortality rate that creates huge demand for tombstone services.

By bringing business acumen and modern business tactics to an industry that is quite old-school and littered with many small-scale operations, you can quickly become a significant player.

Related: How To Start A Funeral Business

2Find a neglected market

Soon after starting up the business, Khitsane realised that the industry wasn’t really catering to the specific needs of Africans.

“A lot of the options available at the time were really just ideas imported from overseas,” he says.

“There were no Afrocentric designs available that were sensitive to the unique beliefs and culture of Africans. So, we started creating designs that were aimed specifically at Africans. Because of this, the business really took off. We were enjoying growth of around 300% year-on-year.”

Khitsane also realised that no one was catering to the blind, so Bataung Memorials started offering tombstones with braille. While this was a relatively small market, it was still significant, and cemented the company’s reputation as an industry leader.

3Create a superior product

Emmanuel Ngobese

Right from the start, Khitsane was determined to create a product that could compete on the global stage.

“I wanted to create products that were the best in the world, so we invested in a manufacturing set-up that could offer incredible tombstones. We set up an end-to-end facility that could handle the cutting, shaping and polishing of stones. Today we’re the biggest tombstone manufacturer in Africa,” says Khitsane.

Bataung also decided to improve the level of personalisation available. “A tombstone is obviously a very personal thing, yet so many of those available are very generic. We decided to offer a level of personalisation that wasn’t available. Bataung allows loved ones to have a unique tombstone designed and crafted that says something about the personality of the deceased.”

This personalisation option has become incredibly popular, and the company has created large and impressive tombstones for celebrities such as Gugu Zulu, John ‘Shoes’ Mosheou and Vuyo Mbuli.

Related: Want To Invest In A Billion Rand Industry? Then Look To the Funeral Business

4Embrace technology

Bataung Memorials hasn’t only embraced technology on the manufacturing side of things; it has also implemented technology cleverly in customer-service. For instance, it has started creating tombstones with QR codes that allow mourners to view info about the funeral and the deceased through a smartphone.

It has also incorporated GPS tracking into its tombstones, which allows mourners to find the correct funeral. “It seems like a somewhat absurd situation, but it’s a real problem,” says Khitsane.

“The large graveyards host so many funerals on a typical day that people can really struggle to locate the correct site. A GPS tracker solves this problem.”

5Leverage social media

Bataung Memorial makes use of traditional marketing campaigns in newspapers and magazines, but it also makes a lot of use of social media platforms to promote the business.

“Social media is very important to us. When we’ve created something that really says something about the person who has passed, people will share it on social media. The important thing, is to create a space where it can actually be shared. If you’re not on social media, you can’t benefit from people sharing your work,” says Khitsane.

Related: Want to Run a Funeral Business? Then You Must Know This

Take note

Every business can benefit from technology, even those that seem far removed from the tech industry.

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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

Published

on

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.”

Continue Reading

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.

Published

on

Prev1 of 10

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.

Prev1 of 10

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending