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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




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+.

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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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