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Liquid Thought: Zulfiq Isaacs

A young IT dreamer shows the value of spoting new opportunities in changing markets.

Juliet Pitman

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Zulfiq Isaacs of Liquid Thoughts

Inspired by Mark Shuttleworth and theenormous dot.com success that took the world by storm, Zulfiq Isaacs was not toknow in 2001 that he was entering the IT market at the tail-end of the boom,just prior to the now-legendary dot.bomb crash. “I was so starry-eyed at thetime, thinking about the overnight success I might attain, but it was justbefore the markets collapsed,” he recalls. The 22-year-old left his job atDimension Data and opened Liquid Thought with a vision of providing a top-endportfolio of IT services to the SMB market.

In spite of the difficult market conditionsinto which he entered, Liquid Thought was one of the few companies thatwithstood the crash, “It was tough early on but I was fortunate enough to beone of the first companies in the Bandwidth Barn incubator and this made amassive difference, insulating us to a certain extent from the dot.bomb,” hesays. In addition, a mentor introduced the company to some important contactswho lead it to its first clients. But, Isaacs says, the first real catalystfor success was becoming a Microsoft partner. “In the beginning we were allover the place. We were a web-company but we were also looking at open-sourcetechnologies. Slowly and surely we realised that to achieve commercial success,we needed to align ourselves with a company like Microsoft,” he says. The movewas important and lent a more structured approach to the business.

Another success milestone came in 2004 withthe establishment of a Business Solutions division, the core focus of which isMicrosoft’s CRM offering. The division is headed up by Isaac’s partner, RogerStrain, an ex-Microsoft Corporate Account Manager with a wealth of experiencein the implementation, sales and marketing of business solutions tomedium-sized enterprises and corporates. “This allowed us to penetrate marketsin the professional and financial services industries. KPMG, Stanlib,Metropolitan and Alexander Forbes are just some of the clients we provide CRMsolutions for.” Over time the business grew to employ 40people (although it has since sold off a non-core division to a listed companyand reduced its staff complement to around 25). Its services include designsolutions, business CRM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), informationworker solutions, the development of mobile Pocket PC solutions, softwareservices and products and consulting.

“I think where we’ve innovated the most isalways being early adopters of web-based technologies, even before theMicrosoft technologies started to evolve into the new platforms that everyonecurrently uses. The company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of cuttingedge technology continues to give it a competitive edge, and Isaacs and histeam have long-identified the opportunities inherent in what is a rapidlyconverging IT environment. “We’ve been quite pioneering in the area of digitaltelevision and are gearing up to become a key player in this space in the nearfuture. We have positioned ourselves as a service provider to enable the IPTVenvironment in South Africa,” he says.“When asked what it takes to make it in IT,I always tell people: ‘Have a plan and stick to it but if things don’t work outas you anticipated, be ready to embrace change and be highly adaptable,’ Isaacsconcludes. It’s a formula that he’s proved can work. Contact: +27 861 386 583;www.liquidthought.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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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.

Nicole Crampton

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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.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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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.

Nicole Crampton

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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:

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