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Exactica: Erik Hofstee

Former academic helps others to overcome the challenges of writing a dissertation

Juliet Pitman



Erik Hofstee of Exactica

“Winning can be defined as the science of being totally prepared.” It is with this George Allen quote that Dr Erik Hofstee opens the first chapter of his book, Constructing a Good Dissertation. In it – and indeed in his work through his company, Exactica – Hofstee is helping countless people to prepare themselves so that they can complete their Honours, Masters and PhD dissertations on time. The book, together with the courses offered by Hofstee, help to prepare students, many of whom are businesspeople, for the arduous road toward completion of their theses. Because, while thousands of people embark on a postgraduate degree through dissertation every year, few of them complete their work on time and many of them give up entirely along the way.

“The biggest challenge,” says Hofstee, “is that people don’t know what to do – no one has ever taught them how to write a dissertation. They may know enough about their subject matter, they may have read the literature and even formulated a problem to work on, but they are in the dark when it comes to the process of compiling it all in a dissertation.” To his mind, this is the biggest problem. One of the common experiences of people attempting to complete a dissertation is self-doubt, but Hofstee is adamant that anyone who has managed to reach the dissertation stage is capable of writing a quality paper. Hofstee, a Fulbright scholar who has completed two Masters degrees cum laude and one PhD dissertation of his own, has supervised numerous students in the dissertation process while he was an academic in both Europe and America. He’s all too aware of the multiple challenges facing people who set out to write a paper. “The work I do is mostly drawn from the experience of helping people with their dissertations and working out what is effective,” he explains. “When I had my own dissertation students at Groningen University I realised that they were struggling ridiculously and I started asking why.” The answers to this question became the seeds for what later germinated into the workshops Hofstee runs today.

These workshops, along with the book, offer simple but extremely helpful advice. “As far as I am aware, nobody who has taken the workshop has ever failed their dissertation and I often say that the reason for this success is that what I do is not rocket science. I have simply put together a method that, regardless of academic discipline, can be used to complete a passing dissertation.” Hofstee runs the two-day courses for no more than eight people at a time to ensure that clients receive the attention they need. “I make a promise to people that I will help them to hand in a good dissertation and I will do whatever it takes to keep that promise,” he says. Clients who have taken the course for one degree are welcome to take it again free of charge if they embark on a new degree. And even though his business model is such that on an individual basis, a happy customer is one that never comes back, Hofstee’s devotion to client satisfaction reaps rewards at the corporate client level. Individual clients who have experienced his course quickly spread the word within their organisations to colleagues who are battling to finish a dissertation. The value of Exactica’s offering to corporations cannot be overestimated. The inability of an employee to complete their dissertation impacts a company on many levels. Most obviously, there is the ongoing cost of fees as students need to re-register each year that they continue to study. They are prevented from getting promotions which are contingent on specific qualifications. Their business performance is adversely affected by the need to juggle study and work commitments and the longer the dissertation drags on for, the more their morale and self-esteem are negatively affected. Little wonder then that individuals and businesses alike are welcoming Exactica’s completely unique service offering.


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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