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How the Hummingbird Group Teamed Up With International Partners For Top Growth

Bridget Scarr and business partner Graeme Carr of Hummingbird Group’s winning formula: Knowing your industry + Competitive edge + How to be flexible = International clientele.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital stats

  • Company: Hummingbird Group
  • Player: Bridget Scarr & Graeme Carr
  • Est: 2008
  • Turnover: R100 million
  • Contact: +27 (0)11 463 4099
  • Visit: www.hummingbirdgroup.net.

When it comes to the production of content, Bridget Scarr, MD of Hummingbird Group believes there’s strength in numbers.

Since she and business partner Graeme Carr launched their first company, Pollen, in 2008, they have taken the media, entertainment and technology group on a growth path that has involved several co-productions — joint film and television productions that are shared between two or more countries.

This has made it possible for Scarr and Carr to team up with foreign producers to pool their creative, artistic, technical and financial resources to co-produce lucrative international projects.

For Hummingbird’s international partners, South Africa offers the budget benefits of a rich diversity of locations, low production costs and a favourable exchange rate.

All about growth

Pollen, a design, animation, post-production and visual effects company, was launched with R100 000 seed capital and broke even in its first year.

In 2010, the two founders branched out and added three new companies to the group: Hey!Fever (content production), Apiary (digital development) and Hive (content licensing and management), all of which have been self-funded. The group is anticipating a turnover of more than R100 million this financial year.

“It made sense for us to create four separate companies within the group, each with their own management team,” says Scarr. “Doing too many things under one brand can be confusing. Clients understand your offering better when it is specialised.”

Where content meets technology

Scarr, who has a drama degree, but is entirely self-taught when it comes to entrepreneurship, focuses on the strategy and business development side of the group.

“Graeme is the creative genius who has all the digital now-how,” she says. “Our biggest differentiator is that we truly understand the intersection between content and technology.

We understand the business of film and television, and have the right creative and technical talent at our fingertips.

We are the people that people come to when they need problems solved, or when they have a ‘what if?’. We are excellent problem-solvers. We hire committed people who are passionate about what they do.

Also, we have a vision of where we are going, but we are flexible and not too precious, which is vital in our industry.”

A profitable future

Scarr says she and her team have an optimistic view of the content market in South Africa, despite the state of the national broadcaster. “In the digital and mobile spaces there is so much yet to be explored.

“As long as you trust your instincts, you won’t be disappointed. Our vision is to become the architects of the future of content, distribution and rights management for South Africa, Africa and beyond.”

Top tips

  • Understand local and international markets to know where your competitive edge lies
  • Don’t do too many things under one brand — clients are looking for specialists
  • Be a subject expert if you want to lead your industry
  • Understand when to be flexible — clients will come back for more if you accommodate them
  • Understand the value of being a problem-solver in your own business and that of your clients’.

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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