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Kasty Gaming Zone: Amos Mtsolongo& Musa Maphongwane

Two entrepreneurs see a gap in the township market and set up a business with massive expansion potential.

Juliet Pitman

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Every afternoon hoards of schoolchildren descend on a brightly painted container in Soweto, clamouring at its entrance while they wait their turn to access one of the gaming consoles inside. This is Kasty Gaming Zone and business is booming. “We get about 150 kids through here a day. All of them come because they love computer games,” says co-founder Musa Maphongwane.

Finding the gap

He recognised the gap in the market while running a local IT business. “There was a Sony PlayStation gaming console at my place and the kids just wouldn’t leave it alone,” he says. Partner Amos Mtsolongo adds, “There’s not much for the kids to do other than play soccer, and their families don’t have the money to buy gaming consoles that cost thousands of rands,” he explains. Everything about the Kasty Gaming Zone model has been designed to provide township kids with affordable access to the latest gaming technology. Ten minutes of gaming time costs just R2. Mtsolongo explains how they scrapped their original idea of opening in shopping malls in favour of much cheaper containers. “The container costs R15 000 and on average we pay only R600 rental a month, including electricity. This keeps overheads low and allows us to open anywhere that has electricity and broadband access,” he says.

Getting up and running

Today the company has seven containers in operation, the first of which was funded through the partners’ credit cards, loans from family and a R100 000 windfall that the pair won in a Branson School of Entrepreneurship Soweto Business Plan Competition. They developed their own bespoke software that controls access to each of the consoles through a centralised system, and enlisted the services of a local graffiti artist to develop the distinctive Kasty branding which adorns the outside of the containers.

Licensing and copyright prohibit “play and pay”-type operations, so

Maphongwane and Mtsolongo approached game manufacturer EA Sports directly to discuss their concept. “It just so happened that they’d wanted to penetrate the township market for a long time. They want kids to get to know their games so they were happy for us to go ahead without having to pay the licensing fees,” says Maphongwane.

Fostering community buy-in

The fact that children came from as far as 10 km away is perhaps unsurprising, but what couldn’t have been predicted is the support that Kasty has received from parents and schools in the community. “Parents know this is a safe and supervised place for their children to be, and the schools like it because gaming gives the children an opportunity to learn computer skills and become familiar with computer technology,” Maphongwane explains. He and Mtsolongo run a tight ship when it comes to discipline. No child is allowed to play during normal school hours and the games, most of which are sport-based, are carefully selected to make sure their content is suitable. “We also plan to offer free basic computer skills training for two hours on Saturday mornings, for anyone in the community,” says Mtsolongo. These give-back plans foster community support but they make good business sense too, in order to generate income during the down-time of school hours.Kasty offers multimedia services like Internet access, faxing and printing and the more locals who can use these services, the better it is for business. “We’ve also expanded into computer repairs, and cleaning of DVDs and CDs,” adds Maphongwane.

Plans for expansion

With the right kind of financial support, he and Mtsolongo believe they can have 100 outlets in Soweto alone. The scope for expansion is enormous. Currently three of the seven existing outlets are franchised and while the company plans to continue with this expansion model, the partners first want to establish 40 company-owned stores. “This is the critical mass we need to be able to run a successful franchise operation that offers the support necessary for the business to grow nationally,” says Maphongwane, adding that the company has benefited immeasurably from the input of Franchize Directions, the Franchise Association of South Africa and Endeavor, who are helping them develop their management and business skills. Mentorship from the Branson School of Entrepreneurs and legal assistance from Adams & Adams, both of which formed part of their business plan prize, has also been invaluable.

Looking to the future

“Our vision is for all township children across South Africa to have close, easy access to a Kasty container,” says Maphongwane. They need R4 million to roll out the 40 Soweto stores and while that might sound like a big hurdle for a small township business, these entrepreneurs are not short of ideas, energy or vision for how to get there. Theirs will be an interesting business to watch.

Kasty Gaming Zone

Players: Musa Maphongwane & Amos Mtsolongo
Est: 2006
Contact :+27 76 481 5856
www.kastygaming.co.za   

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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.

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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