“Henry Ford said that to improve productivity means less human sweat, not more. That’s what TomTom means to us.”
In 2014, Christoph van Zyl went from working the night shift on a quarry to launching his own transport company, Renavatio Vervoer. Named after a boat in the sci-fi movie The Island, Renavatio means ‘rebirth’, an idea close to the new entrepreneur’s heart.
Christoph chose the transport industry because of low barriers to entry. By borrowing money against his house, he was able to purchase his first truck, a Mercedes-Benz extra heavy interlink. He then tapped into his mining contacts to secure a few coal transport contracts. Once he had a track record, he grew his fleet to six rigs, all financed through Mercedes-Benz.
“It was an industry I could enter fairly easily, but so can everyone else. There’s a huge oversupply of trucks in South Africa; it’s an extremely open market,” he says.
This means Renavatio operates from day to day with no security and is expected to be able to deliver the same rates as large operators with 100 to 200 trucks in their fleets.
“They’re operating on completely different economies of scale to our business, which has a fleet of six trucks,” he explains. “It’s a heavily commoditised market and contracts are won and lost on price. In a tight economy, this means you’re in danger of your margins eroding to the point where your business is no longer sustainable.”
The very real challenges of transport
By November 2017, Christoph had been operating for just over three years, and was facing his greatest challenges yet.
“Our coal mining contracts dried up, and we needed to pivot to another industry. I had friends with connections to farmers, and secured contracts delivering grain from farms to silos.”
Although the pivot was successful, the change in industries brought new, unexpected challenges. “Our new contracts meant we needed to find farms off small, unmarked dirt roads. I would sit on the phone with one of my drivers at midnight, talking him through the directions. If he missed a turn-off though, he’d need to turn this huge truck and trailer around, invariably burning out the clutch.”
Rising fuel costs, inefficiencies and the challenges of locating their customers was putting a huge strain on the business.
“I had a friend who worked for TomTom Telematics and he told me about their solutions. Cash flow in this business is tight, and I hadn’t entertained the idea of investing in additional hardware or software, but I was getting desperate. I called him and asked him to walk me through the solution. Within half an hour I was sold. It honestly seemed too good to be true.”
The TomTom Telematics difference
Like many transport operators in South Africa, Christoph believed the capital expenditure to set up a telematics system across his fleet would have put too much strain on his cash flow.
However, because the TomTom Telematics team has worked so closely with local operators and understands their needs and challenges, they have developed a subscription model where customers don’t need to invest a large capital outlay into TomTom Telematics’ technology. They receive the tech and software, including installation, at no extra cost for a monthly subscription fee.
This fact was a game-changer for Christoph — he could instal ground-breaking technology into his fleet without a capital outlay. “It was this model that made the solution possible for us, and the impact on our business was immediate.”
A leading edge
“‘Just follow the TomTom device’ has become a mantra for us. Drivers who were previously scared of entering specific areas because they were convinced they’d get lost are confident to go anywhere now. We’ve delivered a load of lime to a farm on the Lesotho border. All we need is a pin drop from our customers and we can find them.”
The system offers so much more than the security of drivers knowing where they are. “The percentage of work done for money expenditure is not even relatable,” says Christoph. “The system works perfectly and has given us a return on investment of 8 000%. We save 2 000 litres of fuel per truck per month, simply because the system monitors driving style, idling time and a host of other data. Drivers can log in and check their performance on a scale of one to ten — and they’re incentivised to do so. We pay monthly bonuses based on their personal scores out of ten.”
Not only has Christoph managed to significantly cut his operating costs, allowing him to be more competitive in a highly commoditised market, but he believes he now has the edge to survive the current tough economic conditions when many other operators won’t.
“Now is when we prove ourselves and keep our head above water while we wait for the economy to turn and consumer and business confidence to return,” he says.
How To Immigrate With Your Family By Starting A Business In The UK
The simple way to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true in the UK.
Many people, especially those with families, are reluctant to up sticks and move to the UK. These would-be movers are often worried that they will not be able to secure employment in the hugely competitive UK job market. This source of stress alone is enough to discourage some from pursuing their dreams of living in the UK. But, there is an innovative and accessible solution.
The UK has several visa classes aimed at individuals who wish to invest in the country. These give an individual the right to live and work in the UK with their families, if they make a defined investment. A visa that interests South Africans is the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. We have developed our UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme to help South Africans looking to immigrate to the UK alone, or with their families.
The basics of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa
To be awarded a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, you will need to invest at least R3,5 million (£200,000) in an existing UK business or one you start up. There are certain other requirements, but these are not particularly onerous, and most investors will qualify if they submit their application correctly.
The entrepreneur visa allows you to live and work in the UK, and take dependant family members with you, defined as your partner and your child under 18. If you have the capital, or are willing to liquidate your assets in South Africa to raise it, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is a great way to relocate your entire family to the UK.
Do note: You will need to make specific applications for each dependant, so it is vital you consult with an immigration expert before beginning the application process.
You’re not just immigrating, you’re investing in the UK
By starting or investing in a UK business as part of our programme, you will be granted the right to live and work in the UK, and earn an income from that business.
The business you invest in will want you to play an active role, not just contribute seed capital. If you want to invest in a business without being an active director you will be allowed to do so, but you may not be eligible for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.
Another restriction is that you cannot hold this visa and work for a business other than the one you are invested in. But, your partner will be allowed to work in whatever field he or she pleases.
How do you choose the right business to invest in?
There is always an element of risk when investing in a foreign business, particularly when you’re thirteen thousand kilometres away from the country you’re investing in. It’s important to understand exactly what you’re investing in before you take the plunge.
That’s why our UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme is hugely beneficial. It matches your investment capital with a pre-approved investee business. We’ll make sure that your skills are matched with an appropriate venture so you can be an active director of that business.
We’ll also handle your visa applications, providing you with a comprehensive immigration and investment solution. Our partner’s list of investee businesses is over 200 strong, giving you an array of choices in various industries. This allows us to pair you with the business that best suits your investment goals and skills.
But what if you have a successful business in South Africa?
It’s no secret — emigrating from South Africa is difficult for many families who have deep roots and thriving operations. There’s no reason why you can’t keep your business in South Africa as well as relocate to the UK.
Nothing restricts a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holder from owning and overseeing businesses in other countries while they are on this visa. Many clients choose to relocate to the UK while ensuring that their original business continues to operate. In this way, you will be supplementing the income from your UK investment with revenue generated by your South African business.
You can hold British and South African passports if you apply for your British citizenship in the correct manner. You must obtain permission from Home Affairs in South Africa to avoid having your citizenship revoked. Retaining your South African citizenship will make it much easier for you to continue running a business here.
Talk to us today
There are compelling reasons to move to the UK — a brighter future for your children and a more stable country in which to retire. Our comprehensive solution will ensure you get the most out of your relocation.
If you’re thinking of immigrating to the UK or investing offshore — either or both — we can help.
(Video) TomTom Telematics – Let’s Drive Business (UK)
Making The Case For FTTH With BDCOM
Successfully making the case for FTTH with BDCOM, Miro offers tangible solutions when deploying last-mile fibre connectivity through cost effective PON technology.
As a service provider, deploying a fibre network may seem daunting, expensive and unappealing; this stems from the capital expenditure required, as well as the added risk of the civil work needed during application. With the gaining popularity of fibre amongst various sectors; from service providers, to the end-users who demand high-speed internet, the demand for fibre is only gaining continuous traction; from the rising use of video-streaming platforms, to the ever-stable demand for reliable connectivity solutions, both for business and home use.
Given these facts, as well as the lingering hesitancy of expanding with fibre, the possibilities of this much desired optical connectivity can be realised through PON. Passive Optical Networks are currently transforming the face of last-mile fibre deployments. A world where sending data happens at the speed of light is now tangible at a tenth of the cost with PON. All the advantages which arise from optical fibre are now available in a cost-effective solution.
The demand for cost-effective, last-mile fibre solutions are also increasing due to the high bandwidth requirements of households and businesses; the large expenditure on active equipment and the on-going challenges of delivering high-capacity internet in densely populated areas are only some of the existing concerns. These, amongst other challenges faced by service providers, are accelerating the interest in deploying fibre optic networks to provide higher bandwidth delivery, reliability and lower latency levels.
The hesitancy of deploying fibre within a service offering stems from the myth that a fibre roll-out, especially in last-mile applications, can be a great expenditure in terms of infrastructure and operating costs. This myth can now be proven false with our FTTx solution from BDCOM.
The solutions available with PON (Passive Optical Networks) have been proven to reduce installation cost by up to 70% with the use of simple reflective devices, known as splitters.
Related: Embracing Technology For Business
PON, completely negates the need for active equipment (such as switches, boosters etc.) because it allows the light, to be reflected towards the intended receiver (ONU) which then talks back to the light source (OLT) which is situated by the POP (Point of Presence). PON take up less physical space and consume less energy than traditional Ethernet because of the reduced number of active equipment. PON deployment costs up to 50% less than Ethernet, this includes components, labour as well as materials. The requirements for cooling are also less than with Ethernet, offering the client a saving on their utility costs.
Furthermore, fibre optic cables have a lifespan of up to 50 years as opposed to the 15 year lifespan of Ethernet copper. By analysing these facts, PON technology is arguably the only cost-effective solution to a fibre roll-out because of the major decrease in deployment and maintenance cost; therefore, there is also no surprise as to why it has become increasingly embraced by hospitals, government agencies and universities, amongst other industries.
For more information on the best last-mile PON solution for your fibre application, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team; introducing you to the possibility of FTTx, together.
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