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8th Man Consulting: Adrian Van Der Merwe

How a new business succeeded by bringing experts on board.

Monique Verduyn

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Adrian van der Merwe of 8th Man Consulting

In rugby, the eighth man plays a roving role, linking the forwards and the backs. When financial specialist Adrian van der Merwe launched his business, he named it 8th Man Consulting because of the role he plays in connecting the often conflicting needs of business and IT. On completing a BCom at Wits University, he spent two years auditing for a small accounting firm and then went overseas. “I planned to go for a year, but I stayed for nine,” he says. “Within my first year in the UK I was working in the field I’m now in.” An accountant by training, Van der Merwe’s natural affinity for IT was spotted by Safeway, the fourth largest retailer in the UK at the time. He was put in charge of the company’s management information systems as the retailer could find no-one else with the know-how.

Two years later, love took him to Copenhagen where he spent a further two years at a dotcom company, gaining experience in Internet technology. He then returned to London, where he joined KPMG and then Paragon, growing the company from nine to 25 employees. Family needs brought him back to South Africa almost a decade later, with the determination to start his own company.“Before I landed I had already registered the business, created a website and prepared the marketing collateral,” Van der Merwe says. “I had also made many local contacts and established relationships in the country.” On his return, he subcontracted to a consulting firm for the first eight months and employed his first consultant within four months. Ask Van der Merwe what his company does, and it’s difficult for him to answer in terms that a layperson understands: “We implement systems for accountants,” he says eventually, not mentioning business performance even once. “Our team combines accounting and application expertise,which is key to success in this industry. We understand business requirements better than any of our competitors.”

The specialised consultancy is in the mushrooming business performance management market, where it provides services to companies that have standardised on Hyperion solutions.Van der Merwe’s view of the business from the start was that aggressive growth would not happen without proper financial backing. The gap in the market exists, and the skills shortage in this sector has worked in his favour, but the real driver behind 8th Man’s success, is thathe sold 49% of the business to Knowledge Integration Dynamics (KID) in 2007. With a customer base spanning the entire corporate arena, and representation in the public sector, KID came with a good reputation and some of the market’s leading distribution agencies and partnerships. “Because this was my first business, I did not want to go it alone,” says Van der Merwe. “The deal with KID gave us accessto capital, a solid business infrastructure, BEE compliance and accreditation,and a way in to an established client base. This has enabled us to develop the company at a rate we could never have achieved on our own.”

And it shows: in 18 months, the business has grown to 16 people and has a projected turnover of R8 million.Van der Merwe has also distinguished the company by focusing on consulting services. “As a consultancy, our relationships with clients are built entirely on trust, and word of mouth has worked exceptionally well for us.”Another move that has differentiated 8th Man is the public relations strategy. “One of the first things I did was to establish a presence in the market.” Looking ahead, Van der Merwe says 8th Man is focused on becoming the top business process management consultancy in the country.

Contact: +27 11 462 9805; www.8thman.co.za

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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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

CEOwise

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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