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Going it Alone

Most entrepreneurs swim against the current. Some more than others. Jason Ray is living proof that you can prevent your growing business from turning into the one you left – and that it’s possible to remain uncompromising on the stuff that’s close to your heart.

Juliet Pitman

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Jason Ray has a story for any employee who’s ever been fed up with working for a large, bureaucratic organisation and harboured dreams of starting a business and doing things on their own terms.

It is possible to do the work that you love with people you like on your own terms.

In 2006 he and three colleagues left agency giant Ogilvy and started boutique agency Under the Radar.

“The idea was to get quietly rich by doing beautiful, quality work on our own terms with clients we chose to work with,” he says.

They set three cardinal rules:

  1. We only work for clients we like. (“You don’t do good work for people you don’t like.”)
  2. We don’t pitch for work. (“The pitch is the agency tap dance dog-and-pony show, beauty parade of bulls**t. We wanted our work to come through word-of-mouth.”)
  3. We only work on big business. (“We wanted a maximum of ten clients and we never wanted to spread ourselves too thin and become the agency we’d left.”)

They may sound idealistic, unrealistic and even arrogant, but they were borne of entrepreneurs having been there, done that and knowing very clearly what they did and did not want to do in future.

“Doing things on your own terms doesn’t mean you don’t chase business. We relentlessly chase business, but within our selected client base because we know those are the people for whom we can do our best work,” says Ray.

Choosing to be small doesn’t need to preclude growth plans either. “We want to grow into Africa – but again, with our clients as they expand their presence there,” he says.

Having rules also doesn’t necessarily imply inflexibility. Ray is as aware as the next guy that things change. In early 2012, he bought out his three partners in a “very amicable parting of ways” and the agency became Radar. And for a brief period the company even allowed itself to break Rule 2, as Ray points out, “For a very short period to gain a specific piece of business – and we’re now closed again for pitches.”

Today Radar is a R60 million billing agency – certainly not big in agency terms, but quite big enough for someone who’s embraced small as the new beautiful.

Vital stats

  • Player: Jason Ray
  • Company: Radar
  • Est: 2006 (Buy-out in 2012)
  • Turnover: R60 million
  • X-factor: Beautifully crafted, clean, strategically sound work done on their own terms.
  • Connect: www.radar.co.zaJason@radar.co.za

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Local Funder Finds New Ways to Help SMEs Grow. Read His Story Here

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Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

Snapshots

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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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.

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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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