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Snapshots Zibusiso Mkhwanazi & Neo Mothlabane

With little more than R2 000 and dreams of greatness, two entrepreneurs have built a giant

Juliet Pitman



Zibusiso Mkhwanazi of Krazy Boys Digital

Zibusiso Mkhwanazi and Neo Mothlabane were18 and 20 years old respectively when they started Between themthey had nothing but their IT and accountancy skills, R2 000 start-up capitaland a dream to be in the top five IT companies in the country within fiveyears. “We didn’t have a car so we used to take taxis to see clients. On thedays that it rained, we’d have to cancel meetings because we’d get so wetwalking in the rain,” remembers Mkhwanazi. But, as John Barry, founder ofAdcorp, says in his interview at the back of this issue, South Africa is one ofthe last great countries where, if you put your mind to it, you can achieveanything.

This was their thinking exactly. In Januarythis year, bought 30% of Krazyboyz Digital, for an undisclosed sum,forming one of the largest African digital agencies. Mkhwanazi is ExecutiveChairman and Mothlabane Managing Director of the Johannesburg also has the option to acquire a further 21% of Krazyboyz Digitalwhich will, in future, allow it to attain majority shareholding. The rise and rise of Mkhwanazi andMothlabane is a story that’s nothing short of remarkable. Mkhwanazi relates howit all began: “With the little capital we had we needed to focus on one thingthat would land us a big client.“ They scanned the market and decided that webdevelopment was the way to go. But, there was one small problem. Neither ofthem was a designer. Refusing to be discouraged, they approached designstudents at the former Technikon of the Witwatersrand and asked them to submitexamples of web design work. “We took the work and started selling it andlanded our first significant client, Mazwai Securities, now Barnard JacobMellet,” explains Mkhwanazi.

It was a taste of things to come. Blue IQfollowed, then Lotto and then Thebe Investments. “We just grew and grew – itjust exploded,” he remembers, “And importantly it gave us the confidence weneeded. Because as a small start-up you have to first convince a giant that youcan deliver what they need, and then you have to actually deliver it. It’s areally big challenge.” In both instances, the pair proved successful and incomeslowly started coming in, eventually funding the company’s growth. But, ever aware that IT was a high-riskmarket, particularly at that time in the aftermath of the dot.bomb, Mkhwanaziand Mothlabane made an important strategic decision to keep overheads as low aspossible. “We were very clear on one thing: the only salaries we were going topay were our own and a secretary’s,” he recalls. They bought one car to shareand instead of taking on staff, continued to outsource the design work on acontract basis, a practice that remained in place right up until Csonke.combought into Krazyboyz Digital.

Mkhwanazi explains the thinking behind themerger. “We needed new markets and to expand our services for the existingclients that we had grown with. We were strong on web design but we weren’tstrong on things like presentations and digital signage. And we wereapproaching that five year mark and still weren’t in the top five!” Theystarted scanning the market but in the end Krazyboyz, which was also lookingfor a partner, found them at a serendipitous tender briefing. The deal waseventually financed through assets and cash. The merging has presented Mkhwanazi and hisnew team of directors with an array of challenges. “When you combine twocompanies there is always the risk that you will get two separate camps. Therewas the perception that people would lose their jobs and be replaced becausethere was now empowerment in the business. You have to get people to trustyou,” he says, adding that communication and a united group of leaders whopublicly come out in support of each other has made all the difference. Todate, not one staff member has resigned. “It’s all about leading by example,”concludes Mkhwanazi. Small wonder then that Krazyboyz is at an all-timehigh. 

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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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