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Dariel Software Solutions: Malcolm Rabson & Greg Vercellotti

A small software company proves that technology is about people, not systems

Juliet Pitman

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Greg Malcolm

In an industry that has become known for relying too heavily on the appeal of sexy systems alone while paying little attention to the other aspects of business, Dariel Software Solutions has focused its attentions on getting the right people in place to ensure ongoing success.

And with a client list that includes Discovery Life, FNB Corporate, Standard Bank, Rand Mutual Assurance (RMA), Sappi and Anglo Platinum, it’s obviously doing something right.

“Our focus has always been to create a home for techies,” explains Greg Vercellotti, executive director. While the “techies are people too” approach might sound too warm and fuzzy, it’s actually a smart business approach to attracting the right people.

As Vercellotti notes, many skilled technologists resent employers for treating them as nothing more than a commodity to be marked up for profit. He goes on to describe what he sees as a potentially “vicious or virtuous” cycle:

“If you have good people you need to keep them challenged with good work and if you have good work, you attract good people. On the other hand, if people aren’t challenged, they leave; if you don’t have the right people, you won’t get good work.”

Dariel has developed its own “entrance exam” that assesses skill, capability and, very importantly,company fit. Malcolm Rabson, co-founder and managing director explains, “We’re interested in more than just their technical ability or how they score on a computer-based syntax test. We want to know how they think.”

Their approach to recruitment has enabled the company to build a core team of 50 highly skilled and productive people.“Providing software solutions for companies is all about giving them peace of mind and this can only be achieved if they trust you.

Having the right people on our team has played a vital role in building relationships of trust with our customers,” says Rabson. And there are other things that the company is doing right when it comes to customers. The beauty of bespoke software solutions is that they can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the client, but all too often miscommunication and lack of understanding about the client’s business and needs means companies end up with software entirely unsuited to their business.

Dariel goes for a tight engagement with clients, as Vercellotti says: “Our approach is to give clients the big picture of what their system will look like upfront and then show them releases from very early on in the project. They can let us know each step of the way if how we are interpreting their brief is what they had in mind.”

This method has instilled trust in clients who are given a chance to provide input during the process instead of being presented with a wholly unsuitable system at the end of the project. Rabson adds an important point about the limitations of systems: “No system can offer you everything.

There are trade-offs and you need to decide what is most important from your system. So we make it our business to ascertain precisely what a client wants their system to do for their business – whether it be scalability, the ability to add functionality or speed of response time – and then we build the architecture to meet this need.”

Building relationships with clients takes time but Dariel has developed a reputation for good work and word of mouth has helped the company to grow organically. This growth has demanded different things from the company founders at different times.

Initially self-funded by a core of three people, Rabson remembers how their intention was not to incur debt in starting the business: “In the early days, the three of us had to make sure each one of us was billable and at the end of the month take a look at who could afford not to draw a salary so that we could reinvest money into the business.

We’d work on projects during the day and follow up with things like sales, admin and strategy in the evenings.” The challenge then was to multi-task effectively but as the business has grown and employed specialised people to focus on individual areas of need, the challenges have changed. “No wit’s about co-ordinating all these individuals so that we’re all working towards the same goal.”

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton

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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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