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How Jonny And Astrid Sacks Leveraged Connections To Start Klutch

Ex-Virgin employees Jonny and Astrid Sacks have turned their idea into the thriving Klutch by being different from the competition.

Monique Verduyn




Vital Stats

  • Players: Jonny Sacks and Astrid Sacks
  • Company: Klutch
  • Established: 2013
  • Contact: +27 (0)21 705 9033
  • Visit:

Virgin founder Richard Branson is known for nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. His belief in supporting new ventures is a philosophy that is entrenched in the Virgin group of companies.

Former Virgin Active South Africa (VASA) employees Astrid Sacks and Jonny Sacks experienced that first-hand when they left the company to launch their branded merchandise business, Klutch.

Astrid was VASA’s marketing production manager, and Jonny, an accountant, worked in the finance department. Years of experience in branded merchandise production had given Astrid insight into the sector and she was all too aware of how large corporates can get taken for a ride when it comes to costs.

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When the husband-and-wife team were ready to launch their start-up, they met with VASA MD Ross Faragher-Thomas, FD Grant Scott, and COO Rick Jaffe. “We were blown away by their willingness to help,” says Jonny.

“We had countless meetings. We had to provide case studies to prove what we were preaching, and take part in a formal RFP process with some big names in the promotional industry. When we launched in early 2013, VASA was our first client.”

The value of being different

Klutch-and-Richard-Branson“High costs and poor service convinced us that there was a gap in the market for a merchandising business that could provide great service, fair prices, speedy turnaround, and good quality,” says Astrid.

“We wanted to take our passion for production and give clients a different kind of service. We know inks and how the printing processes actually work because we’ve seen it; we go into the factories and get our hands dirty.”

In a sector where competition is rife, Klutch also offers an end-to-end service, including promotional branded merchandise, print management and branding of banners, gazebos and other items.

“Usually, you would need to go to three different suppliers for this, but we have it all under one roof,” says Jonny. “Because we are a trade business, we get everything at trade prices. For the client, it’s easier and more convenient to deal with one provider. We also offer extra services, like packaging and distributing across the country.”

One of Jonny’s dreams was to meet Richard Branson and his former bosses made that happen, setting up a meeting in Cape Town. Jonny says there is no money in the world that can buy that type of mentorship. “He asked difficult questions and gave us advice that helped us through the start-up process. It was an unforgettable experience.”

Be prepared to work


Their motto today? “Do what others don’t, to achieve what others won’t”. “We work 16-hours a day, every day,” says Astrid.

“It’s a slog and you have to be prepared for the long haul. The biggest mistake people make is thinking that being your own boss is easy. It really isn’t. It takes hard, gritty, dirty work. Bags under your eyes and countless cups of coffee kind of work. But perseverance is key. One day you look up and see what you have created from nothing. It’s like having another child to care for.”

Jonny agrees. “Your head will always be full of a hundred things you need to do at any one time, and the competition is fierce. People get nasty. Don’t be. Be willing to help others get their break. Go out there and make connections – one thing we realised is that it’s who you know that counts. And service is everything.”

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Their advice to aspiring business owners is simple. Start a venture based on your expertise. Don’t get involved in something you know nothing about. Do what you know, but add a twist. Also, go slowly. Don’t grow too quickly.

“We started at home,” says Astrid. “When our lounge got so full that our son had to sit on boxes to watch cartoons, we realised it was time to find a home for Klutch. Now we have a factory with screen printers, warehousing space, and lots of amazing branding machines.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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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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Company Posts

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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