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Lessons Learnt

How Sumting Fresh Reinvented Itself

Andrew Leeuw and Herzon Louw, founders of Sumting Fresh, failed at their first market. So they went back to the drawing board and today are a roaring start-up success. These are their lessons on making the most of markets.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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Vital Stats

  • Company: Sumting Fresh
  • Players: Andrew Leeuw and Herzon Louw
  • Launched: 2012

Herzon and I met twelve years ago on a taxi. He was studying to be an accountant, I was going to chef school. Whenever we met we’d talk about food.

In 2011 we bumped into each other again and I was trying to open my own restaurant. I had been demoted in my previous job, and I convinced my brother to bankroll my dream. The restaurant was a super expensive non-starter. We never even served a single meal.

At the same time, Herzon worked as an accountant and owned a food trailer that he paid people to run for him. He wasn’t making profits and I convinced him to come on board full-time.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: How to Nurture Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

A Bumpy, Harsh Start

We branded the trailer, put in some more equipment and hit Arts on Main. We had no idea who we were, we were just going to bring restaurant food to the people, from a trailer. We didn’t last three months. We weren’t ready for a market and we didn’t have thick skins.

Licking our wounds we took to the streets of Midrand. For two years we persevered and slowly developed an identity, an offering and a following. Our first day, we had eight customers and walked away with – R480.

We realised offering restaurant food wasn’t working for us and we re-evaluated everything. Each week the numbers increased until we were serving 80 customers a day.

Another Fortuitous Meeting

A vendor at the Fourways Farmers’ Market asked us to help to redesign his boerewors rolls. It got us a foot in the door and we realised how special this market was.

We persisted for three months before getting in. Again, we had no idea what to serve because we couldn’t sell burgers, boerewors, sandwiches, pregos, chicken wings… what was left? We settled on goujon chicken (crispy fried chicken fillet strips) our least favourite because it was hard work, but everyone loved it.

With a small deep-fryer, we increased progressively from 120 portions, and when that doubled we bought bigger, better equipment. At the 400 meals mark we bought our 1992 double-decker Mercedes bus that was converted into a kitchen and dining area. We gained exposure in magazines and landed a spot on TV with Ultimate Braai Master.

Those winnings helped us fund our growth, but the market really changed our lives. It’s a spot where corporate decision-makers take their families and that’s how we’ve landed corporate catering.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: The Problem Solver, Money Maker Dane Spear

Learning Important Lessons

  • Have your own identity and style. We started out selling expensive food and people at markets didn’t want that – they want delicious street food.
  • We learnt to take criticism constructively and grow a thick skin.
  • Be flexible. Introduce yourself to the market, but don’t wait for them to decide who you should be.
  • Our core offering allowed us to grow a trusted following who were game to try other things like soft-shelled crab, trout and quail, because they knew the quality and they were curious.
  • We now have a staff contingent of 18 people, seven permanent. We focus on spirit as much as qualifications when recruiting, because that makes as much of an impression on customers as the food.
  • Preparation is important. We start prepping three days in advance so that we can deliver quickly and maintain quality in a small space.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Keep careful tabs on costs.

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.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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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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