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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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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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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.

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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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