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Bizcommunity: André Rademan & Ken van Ginkel

A compelling idea and compelling content have paid off for Bizcommunity founders

Juliet Pitman

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Andre Rademan & Ken van Ginkel

André Rademan and Ken van Ginkel,co-founders of Bizcommunity, are testament to the fact that if you work longand hard enough pursuing a good idea, success will eventually come knocking.Today, Bizcommunity is the twelfth biggest online publisher in the country with105 000 readers, 55 000 newsletter subscribers, 2,1 million page impressions amonth and 4 000 businesses listed (Nielsen/Net ratings audit, May 2005). It isalso the largest independently-owned business-to-business online media companyin the country. The site, which targets all aspects of the media, advertisingand marketing industries, has been successful not only as an up-to-dateinformation portal but also in creating a true online community where loyalusers log on to get their daily “fix”.

The success of Bizcommunity was notimmediate, however. Rademan started it in 1999 when his fiancée mentioned thatthe advertising industry needed more current information than was beingsupplied in trade publications. The software developer worked on theBizcommunity concept for 18 months before teaming up with Van Ginkel, who madeup the site’s editorial component. Rademan discusses some of the uniquechallenges posed by the site’s target audience in the early start-up days:“Although advertising companies were encouraging their clients to create anonline presence, they were slow in taking their own advice.” Van Ginkelconcurs. “We had to slowly break people into the idea of Bizcommunity. It wasjust after the dot bomb, so they were initially reluctant to consider onlinesolutions.”In those early months, cash flow was achallenge. Rademan used his savings to support himself while he was planningthe site. “Those funds were getting really low just before Ken joined and wewere about to go live,” he says. Fortunately, an investor provided themuch-needed capital to launch.

The fact that the site wasn’t an overnightsuccess didn’t dampen the partners’ spirits for long. “The vision was alwaysthere and we had faith in the fact that it would eventually work,” saysRademan. As the industry realised that Bizcommunity was here to stay, thecompany started to see incremental growth. “There is nothing like time forproving that you are truly committed to something; it took a while beforepeople realised we were serious about offering a long-term online service,”explains Van Ginkel.After only six months, their dailynewsletter surpassed the 10 000 subscriber mark set by the only other industrynewsletter.Initially, they ran the site alone. “Wewould do the daily newsletter in the morning and then spend the afternoon onsales,” says Rademan. Piet Badenhorst, sales director, was appointed in 2003and the Bizcommunity team grew to 14.

Editor, Louise Marsland, joined soon after,taking over the content reins from Van Ginkel and bringing a wealth ofjournalistic experience to the group. A bigger IT team meant features could beloaded faster and more efficiently. Both partners agree that finding the rightpeople at the right time has provided the foundation on which their success hasgrown.Bizcommunity has really taken on a life ofits own. With 22 main sections, there are many areas on the website where userscan participate and feel like part of a community. Rademan points out thatalthough the target market is predominantly professionals in the marketing,media and advertising industries, many subscribers and users come from a rangeof other businesses. “Marketing is important to all businesses and they use Bizcommunity to keep up to date on news and trends,” he says. “Our vision wasto create something that would make a difference to the industry and the responsefrom our users indicates that we’re achieving that.” With the number ofsubscribers growing by 1 000 a month it seems he’s right on the money.

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.

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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