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Avocado Vision: Jules Newton

At the centre of a company invested in the future is a story about growth

Juliet Pitman



Juliet Newton

Avocado Vision, a company that specialises in helping organisations make human connections with their clients and retain their top talent, has an interesting story behind how it got its somewhat unconventional name. When company founder and MD Jules Newton was building the structure that now forms part of the company’s offices in Kensington Ridge,Johannesburg, her plans involved removing an avocado tree in the garden. But when the previous owner got wind of the plan, he was horrified. “He told me how he had planted that tree from the pip of the best avo he had ever eaten simply because he wanted to be able to enjoy the same quality fruit in future. That spoke to me,” she remembers.The story encapsulates something that’s been central to Avocado Vision’s history: growth. From humble beginnings 11years ago the company has grown into a respected leader in its field, listing SAB Miller, Standard Bank, Nedbank and Discovery among some of its clients. And last year, Newton and partner Elaine Sampson formed Ngikwazi Field Marketing, a joint venture with Can Do. They were awarded a contract by Gidani, the new national lottery operator, to find, train, accredit and provide ongoing support to the 8 000 new and existing lottery retailers.

Newton attributes the company’s success to their fresh, innovative and practical approach to helping clients solve their problems. “Although the learning experience we provide is based on solid theory and research, it’s intensely practical as well, so clients come out of our sessions with something they can put to use immediately.” Having an edge is important in an industry that is growing rapidly but Newton and Sampson have their finger on the pulse of the direction things are moving in, as Newton explains, “We’re moving into a relationship economy and although technical skills are important, they are no longer what customers are buying. If you are unable to connect with people, unable to deviate from the script and meet human being to human being, you aren’t giving customers any reason to invest in your brand as opposed to the brands of your competitors.”Both Newton and Sampson bring something unique to the company’s offering. Newton has many years’ experience in training and development, and as MD, drives the company’s vision and strategy, while still remaining close to the sales team. Sampson hails from the Diversity Institute but prior to that was a teacher at the school on Robben Island. “Elaine played an important role in helping to bridge the divide between the former prisoners and prison warders, through their children who attended the school where she taught,” says Newton, adding that the experience makes her partner ideally suited to helping their clients form meaningful connections with customers and staff.

Regarding the company’s other focus area of talent retention, Newton continues, “Stats show that six out of 10 people leave bosses, not companies. The cutting edge of talent retention now focuses on helping people become more emotionally mature and better able to manage their relationships with their staff. People stay in companies because they feel valued, and they leave if they don’t.”

This statement hits closer to home for Newton and Sampson than many people realise. In spite of its huge successes,the company’s growth has also involved times of extreme challenge. “Last year,we nearly had to close the company down. We were overconfident and employed staff instead of contracting. Suddenly our overheads were way above our income and for 10 months, we couldn’t pay everyone’s salary,” Newton recalls. It’s testament to how valued Avocado Vision staff feel that during this difficult time,not one of them left the company. And the speed with which Newton and Sampson bounced back is proof that the ability to learn and grow is as central to the company now as it was in the early days. “We realised we couldn’t fix it on our own so we pulled in mentors who helped us tear the strategy and business model apart,” she explains. After making some small but important changes, Avocado Vision was back in the running and nabbed the national lottery training tender.Getting back to the story about the tree that lends its name to her company, Newton muses, “What we really try to do here is to plant ideas in clients’ soil. We invest in people, in soft skills and in helping people to shift their insights. After all, you have no idea whata person can become if they are helped to grow.” They’re prophetic words born of hands-on experience.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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.






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




Vital Stats

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.


“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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