Connect with us


Live Out Loud: Michael Eilertsen

A young South African entrepreneur finds innovative ways to tap the local luxury market.

Nadine Todd




One of the finalists in this year’s Sanlam/Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year awards, Michael Eilertsen was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug early in life. His first venture during his university days was selling R10 breakfast packs to morning commuters heading to Sandton. The breakfasts soon came with a daily pamphlet.

A born salesman as well as entrepreneur, Eilertsen introduced himself through the pamphlet and gave the week’s update of business lessons he had learnt. He soon had business people offering him advice and getting involved, and some of those early clients, like Grant Anderson from Investment Cars, would go on to be clients of Eilertsen’s bigger ventures.

Starting small

The mark of any true entrepreneur is the ability to recognise a gap in the market and then fill that need. For example, his breakfasts needed coffee, but how could you keep coffee hot and fresh on the side of the road? “I found out about these packs that Nestlé had bought for about R10 000 each, but they were complicated to use so Nestlé sold all 10 packs to me for R500.”

It took some time and adjustments, but before long Eilertsen was selling steaming hot coffee to commuters, along with nine fellow students/employees – and he wasn’t yet 20. Once again, he looked at what he had and determined what else he could do with it.

“This has always been my way of doing things. You can’t be too fixated on what you’re doing right now. There are always opportunities everywhere.”

He travelled to the US and secured the rights to the Rocketman packs, and Major Tom packs for beer. Nestlé, SAB and Coca-Cola became key clients, and soon Eilertsen’s crew was dispensing coffee, beer and soft drinks at sports stadiums, promo events and concerts across South Africa.

“It was hard work with low margins, and when SAB and Nestlé offered to buy the rights and existing packs in 2006, I said yes.”

Reaching execs

Never idle, Eilertsen soon had another venture, Boiling Point, on the go. It harkened to his days of selling coffee to commuters.

“I loved marketing and I developed an idea that would provide commuters with coffee, and my clients with an opt-in database.”

His first client was Investment Cars, which sponsored a Ciro booth outside the gated community of Dainfern. Commuters received a free cup of coffee for their business cards, and Investment Cars got first hand access to wealthy Joburgers, sending an SMS and email within the hour stating “the only thing hotter than our coffee is our cars.”

“The return on investment was excellent and Investment Cars sold between 15 and 30 additional cars a month based on those leads,” says Eilertsen, who soon had a database of 300 000 names. “I was sitting on a gold mine. I realised that  the real value of what we had was not the early morning coffee, but this database.”

Evolving the model

This is where his current company, Live Out Loud, came into being. “I wanted to offer an exclusive luxury product – what better than an invite-only magazine that provided a direct channel to the elite for our advertisers? The readership was small, but we could guarantee the magazine was going to the right people.”

Knowing next to nothing about publishing, Eilertsen sold Boiling Point and managed to scrape R980 000 together. “I thought I had decent start-up capital. No one told me you couldn’t start a magazine with only R980 000. We were broke within the first six weeks.”

By rebonding his house, he managed to keep the business going (only just), but Eilertsen knew he needed to adjust the model. “Again, we went back to where our real value lay – our database. We developed the idea of events that would give our advertisers direct access to those same execs and CEOs.

“The exclusivity of the events would get our readers there, and we partnered with our advertisers to supply their products in exchange for an advert and the opportunity to be involved. The events cost us a fraction of what they would have without this arrangement, and our clients networked with the people they were targeting.”

While Eilertsen’s team was initially concerned about their lack of experience in events, the business today is a luxury eventing company with a flagship magazine. Eilertsen has even added travel to the portfolio, since many guests live outside Joburg.

Clients include Bentley, Nedbank and Absa, and Live Out Loud’s two signature events, Supercars and Jets and Jewels, remain top of each year’s social calendar.

“You don’t need to start off wanting a huge empire. You just need to be the best at what you do at that time.” The rest, it seems, will follow as long as you’re always willing and able to take the next step.

Vital stats

Player: Michael Eilertsen

Company: Live Out Loud

Launched: 2008


Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Hutzel Media - Biz

    Nov 2, 2012 at 17:49

    A great reminder of why it’s so important to stay flexible and open-minded when exploring business opportunities.

    “You just need to be the best at what you do at that time.” Good inspirational nugget heading into the weekend.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


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



Prev1 of 26


“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:

Prev1 of 26

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading

Company Posts

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.

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.