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How Tsepiso Makhubedu Plays To Her Strengths

Philanthropist, speaker, serial entrepreneur — at 22, Tsepiso Makhubedu can teach others a thing or two about self-belief and perseverance.

Monique Verduyn

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  • Player: Tsepiso Makhubedu
  • Company: Tsepiso Makhubedu
  • Established: 2010
  • Contact: +27 (0)79 472 9022
  • Visit: tsepisomakhubedu.com

When Tsepiso Makhubedu entered the second season of entrepreneurial reality show The Big Break Legacy, she had her eye on the prize – R5 million would help her and then business partner Comfort Dhlamini to launch their educational publishing business.

At the age of 19, the self-starter, a former head girl of Lowveld High in Nelspruit, made it to the finale and took second place, giving older and more experienced contestants a run for their money. She was also the first female and youngest person in the history of the show to make it that far.

Moreover, ‘winning’ became a rather relative term in this particular case. True, Makhubedu hadn’t walked away from the show with the overall prize, but the experience had been invaluable.

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Some very big business lessons had been squeezed into a very short amount of time. Big Break really had turned out to be her ‘big break’. So what did she learn?

Learn from your mistakes

Makhubedu started her first business at the age of 12. Through NelCity Events, an events management company, she and her small team became sought-after party planners in KaNyamazane Village.

“We closed the business in our final year of high school because we had to prepare for exams. Being a contestant on the show made me realise how important early financial literacy is. We had made a lot of money as teenagers, but we had not invested any of it back into the business. I had definitely learnt from that mistake. Always plough cash back into your start-up.”

All business is show business

Because it’s so difficult to get finance, entrepreneurs often enter competitions like Big Break to win money, but participating in the show became a real marketing opportunity for Makhubedu.

“I spent time with people like Wendy Luhabe, Lebo Gunguluza and Ezra Ndwandwe. How you carry yourself and prove that you are an entrepreneur can give you an enormous amount of credibility, particularly if you are young and inexperienced.”

However, you don’t have to enter TV shows to access experienced entrepreneurs. There are other competitions, associations and networks that allow serious entrepreneurs to interact with industry stalwarts.

It’s all about customers

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Makhubedu launched her second business, Royal-T Books in 2012. By intensively seeking investors for the business, she did not spend enough time focusing on customers and their needs.

“Participating in the show made me realise that customers are key. There was a big gap in the market for our product, but we had to sell to make the business idea work. You need to engage with your customers and show them that you are offering a specific solution to their problems. Customers won’t come to you if they don’t know about you.”

Listen to the market

Makhubedu took every opportunity to improve Royal-T Books’ offering to the market.

“When we started the business, we were going to sell printed books. Despite living in the digital age, we were set on physical textbooks. But when we realised the world had moved on, that changed everything. We started developing e-books, and corporates approached us to develop financial literacy materials for adult consumers, too.”

At the end of March 2015, Makhubedu successfully exited Royal-T Books. Having invested R10 000, she left with R4,2 million and more than 100 000 e-books sold.

Know your own value

People do business with people, not companies, she says. “To find investors who believe in your product, you need to be a person in whom others have confidence. When the show came to an end, I applied what I had learnt to launch a public speaking career at 20. I know my value, and I believe that if you want something from the world you have to ask for it. I set my fee at R20 000 per speaking engagement, and it worked.”

Today she has a thriving career as a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship and leadership.

Education is crucial

A BCom dropout, Makhubedu (who achieved six distinctions in matric) is nonetheless a believer in the value of education.

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“I left varsity because dreaming of being an audit manager was not enough of a goal for me. But education has served its purpose in my life. It taught me the importance of learning, and I have been teaching myself how to be an entrepreneur ever since.”

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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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Thukza Mthulisi

    Jan 27, 2016 at 14:34

    She didn’t pay her domain account

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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