- Player: Joshua Cox
- Company: Trade-Mark
- Established: 2012
- Visit: trade-mark.org
Finding a reputable, trustworthy handyman is no easy task, and in a country with an employment rate of 25%, there are jacks-of-all-trades offering their services on every street corner. Joshua Cox is one entrepreneur who spotted a gap in the market in 2012.
With a background in social development, he started Trade-Mark, an online service that connects expert tradesmen with customers, and guarantees quality workmanship at a fair price.
It all started when he hired a contractor based in Diepsloot to do some work for him. Skilled and reliable, the man did not have the basic resources needed for business such as references, business cards and an email address.
He struggled to find work because there was no way for him to connect with the potential market that needed his services.
Overcoming limited resources
“It’s not possible for anyone to get far without having a supportive infrastructure behind them,” says Cox.
“At the same time, I didn’t want to start another service that simply connects tradesmen to clients for a fee. I wanted to create a platform for a sustainable, socially responsible business that protects both the customer and the person providing the service.”
After working on the business model for a couple of years, Cox approached LifeCo Unltd SA, an organisation that assists social enterprises in finding seed funding.
After a successful pilot run, the organisation connected him with the DG Murray Trust, a funder of public benefit organisations, which gave Cox an initial grant of R300 000, followed by a second sum of R300 000 in 2014. The IDC also funded Cox, providing the substantial sum of R2,5 million.
“We proved that you can actually get quite far with limited resources if you are committed to the vision of your organisation,” he says. “The money has given us the luxury of time, which we are using to make sure we build a robust new technology platform for the business.”
Changing the thinking
The focus on infrastructure was a turning point for the business, and only came about when Cox realised that he had to stop thinking about it as a non-profit organisation, and start turning it into a profitable, workable enterprise that could prosper, if he was to achieve his dream of helping people who had no other means of making a living.
“By changing my approach to what we do, the business has transformed itself from a business ‘for good’ into a tech start-up,” he says.
Here’s why that matters: Successful social entrepreneurs identify and apply practical solutions to social problems, combining resourcefulness and opportunity. The next step is to create a service that is new and innovative, and also represents a different approach to a social problem, which is why Trade-Mark works.
“There are so many exciting start-ups that have become wildly successful and they have certain characteristics in common. Uber and Airbnb, for example, were built on automated systems and processes. We are building our platform from the ground up, taking a similar approach to the importance of a robust technology infrastructure. From helping hundreds of tradesmen now, in future we will be connecting thousands of them to thousands of clients across the country.”
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One of the main development areas is the payment system, which will seamlessly enable consumers to pay for services online without requiring exchange of cash or manual intervention.
Cox’s team is also planning to automate the matching of tradesmen with clients according to geography, availability and skill-set of the tradesman.
Trade-Mark’s revenue is made from the commission that each client pays for the service and is based on the value of the labour.
“There are websites that supply handyman details, but the difference with Trade-Mark is that we have a strict five-step screening process to ensure that our people are trustworthy and able to provide a high-quality service. We also have public liability insurance, a workmanship guarantee, and a commitment to not walk away until the client is absolutely satisfied. That level of accountability is almost impossible to find in the construction industry.”
Currently operating in Cape Town and Johannesburg, has provided more than R1,5 million worth of business to tradesman via the platform in the past two years, and Cox aims to triple that figure in the next six months, once the updated platform is completed.
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.
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.
- Elisabeth Bradley
- Sharon Wapnick
- Bridgette Radebe
- Irene Charnley
- Wendy Ackerman
- Paul Harris
- Wendy Appelbaum
- Mark Shuttleworth
- Desmond Sacco
- Giovanni Ravazzotti
- Markus Jooste
- Gus Attridge
- Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
- Cyril Ramaphosa
- Adrian Gore
- Raymond Ackerman
- Michiel Le Roux
- Lauritz Dippenaar
- Jannie Mouton
- Stephen Saad
- Patrice Motsepe
- Allan Gray
- Koos Bekker
- Ivan Glasenberg
- Christoffel Wiese
- Johann Rupert
- Nicky Oppenheimer
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.
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:
- Joe Phalwane
- Nandi Dlepu
- Sonto Pooe
- Michel M. Katuta and Thabo Mphate
- Naledi Sibisi
- Reabetswe Ngwane
- Neo Lekgabo
- Vusani Ravele
- Lulo Rubushe
- Samke Mhlongo
- Sizwe Nzima
- Nicolas Bereng
- Lebo Mphela
- Monalisa Molefe
- Siya Kolisi
- Leah Molatseli
- Nhlanhla Dlamini
- Fhumulani Nemukula
- Itumeleng Mpatlanyana
- Nozipho Dube
- Sarinah Matema-Morgans
- Nneile Nkholise
- Mahadi Granier
- Shalton Mothwa
- Theo Mothoa-Frendo
- Bakani Ngulani
- Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube
- Sandra Mwiihangele
- Constance Mapule Bhebhe
- Ignatious Nkwinika, Mbulelo Mpofana, Shane Curran
- Karidas Tshintsholo
- Mutoda Mahamba and Gavin Waldeck
- Ntuthuko Shezi
- Botlhale Tshetlo
- Dineo Lioma, Loretta Magagula, Danisa Nkuna and Lindiwe Nkosi
- Neo Ratau
- Mpodumo Doubada
- Obakeng Moepya
- Ouma Tema
- Lucky Kgwadi
- Nyakallo Mokoena
- Sibongile Sambo
- Mogau Seshoene
- Sibongile Booi
- Khanya Mzongwana
- Nkazi Sokhulu and Tlalane Ntuli
- Nothando Moleketi
- Nthabiseng Ramaboa
- Lilian Muhammed
- Sunshine Shibambo
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.
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:
- Livestock Wealth
- The Lazy Makoti
- Mimi Women
- AfriTorch Digital
- Akili Labs
- Native Décor
- Quality Solutions
- EM Guidance
- Kahvé Road
- HSE Matters
- VA Virtual Assistant
- Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
- BioTech Africa
- Brand LAIKI
- Plus Fab
- Lenoma Legal
- Benji + Moon
- Brett Naicker Wines
- Legal Legends
- The Power Woman Project
- Aviro Health
- AnaStellar Brands
- Data Innovator
- Oolala Collection Club
- Empty Trips
- Vula Mobile
- The Katy Valentine Collection
- Pimp my Book
- ART Technologies and ART Call Management
- The Sun Exchange
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