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Kirgo Group: Ilan Kirkel

Childhood lessons contribute to entrepreneur’s business success



Ian Kirkel of Kirgo Group

There is a widely forwarded story on theweb about how everything one needs to know was learnt in Kindergarten. Thesource of this inspirational piece is a book by Robert Fulgham and includes theadvice to play fair, flush, and take a nap every afternoon! For thetrailblazing founder and CEO of the Kirgo Group, Ilan Kirkel, many of theentrepreneurial lessons he needed were leant at the family dinner table, yetwere equally important to his business success. Growing up in anentrepreneurial family laid the foundations for 27-year old Kirkel’s drive tosucceed and his outlook on many of the challenges faced by young entrepreneurs.

A self-described “opportunist” and“deal-maker”, Kirkel embarked three years ago on his mission to create afinancial services industry leader. He gained experience in a number of fieldsbefore “finding his niche in the commercial and industrial property sector” andthen joining his father, Ron Kirkel, in his property business. After a numberof qualifications, Ilan Kirkel accepted an invitation to join another propertygroup in KwaZulu Natal before making the move to Johannesburg. Afterdemonstrating award-winning performance in a new role at a large financialinstitution, and further studies, Kirkel set about forming a set of integratedbusinesses serving the demanding needs of high net worth individuals andcorporate clients. Kirgo Capital, Kirgo Property Finance and Kirgo Realty are aset of niche “boutique” businesses that clearly capture some of Kirkel’s earlydinner table lessons about focus and specialisation. Kirgo Capital, an authorised financialservices provider, includes a corporate finance and deal-making platform thatcan make an initial investment and add strategic value at different points inthe business’s development. The finance business is complemented by a PrivateClients distribution channel offering all-embracing financial planningsolutions, including investments, risk and fiduciary services. Another important lesson learnt early on isthe value of differentiation and sustainable advantage in a competitiveenvironment. As with many entrepreneurs, Kirkel is facing off against some ofthe most experienced rivals in the business – and is holding his own. As asingle contact for all services, with unequalled response speed, and ahandpicked network of trusted partners, the Kirgo Group is designed to win atits chosen strategy. Kirkel’s public campaign to assist stretched investors andconsumers to consolidate and manage their debt has also distinguished his firm.

Differentiation is also about innovation.As a home loan facilitator and mortgage originator, Kirgo Property Finance isproviding evidence of how to do things differently by individually tailoringsolutions for each client’s property finance needs. Kirkel’s strong views onthe benefits of second mortgages and bond switching have raised a few eyebrows,but highlight the innovative approaches his team has adopted. Dinner table stories also helped shapeKirkel’s informal management style. He clearly doesn’t like the word “boss”,although he has created an organisational culture of performance by encouragingeveryone to succeed and grow with the firm. This view on personal developmentincludes Kirkel’s own use of mentors. He believes that the support, guidanceand direction received from his more senior mentors have contributed to his ownand his firm’s success thus far. Kirkel has used his ad-hoc, yet regular,mentor discussion sessions to clarify some of his ideas, challenge some of hisbeliefs, and answer some of his questions. He has also found the personalrelationships very valuable. Relationships are key to Kirgo Realty’sauctioneering, valuations and property management teams. Kirkel has built anexperienced and skilled team, many members of the South African Institute ofAuctioneers and South African Estate Agency Affairs Board. Fulgham’s book on Kindergarten lessons alsosuggests that warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Given Kirkel’ssuccess thus far, and the commitment, plans and energy of his team, he may soonshow everyone how strong relationships and innovative practices can be even betterfor you. Contact: +27 11 444 6025; + 27 8611 KIRGO;

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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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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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