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LumaCon Air Conditioning: Derrick Tshivhase

Air conditioning business owner sets his sights on a breezy future by securing multi-million rand contracts.




Derrick Tshivhase grew up in Soweto in the turbulentapartheid years. He describes himself as someone who came from the “generationof stone throwers”. But fortune was on his side and his entrepreneurial talentswere recognised by Barlow Rand’s Small Business Advisory Service. With itssupport, Tshivhase built his business, a one-man show, into a sustainable andhealthy enterprise that is eager to compete with leading industry players. WhenTshivhase started LumaCon Air Conditioning he wanted one outcome – to be a topplayer in the provision of heating and air conditioning solutions. “I started LumaCon in 1986 and itstabilised four years later,” he says. “Up until 1994 it was almost impossibleto get government contracts, but I didn’t give up.” His focus at that time wasdirected at black professionals including lawyers and doctors, as well as blackretailers, while he waited for the political tide to turn in his direction. “Iattribute my success during those difficult times and up until today, to selfreliance, being totally self driven and refusing to give up no matter howdifficult things become.”


LumaCon has secured contracts includinga R13 million project for Modderbee Prison and one for Polokwane InternationalAirport worth R5 million. The company employs 30 full-time employees excludingspecialist sub-contractors. Like any start-up, it’s had its ups anddowns and Tshivhase had to face many obstacles along the way. But a strong mindand an even stronger will to succeed put him on the road to success. The most difficult hurdle he overcamein the business arena was his own complacency. “When things are going well youassume that they will always go well,” he says. “I was looking for a propertyin Limpopo when an estate agent showed me afarm which I fell in love with.” He took two years off, put his staff incontrol of LumaCon and tried his hand at farming. The company suffered withouthim at the helm and it took him two and a half years to get it back on trackagain.


Tshivhase describes himself as anindependent thinker and says he wants to keep it that way. True to form, heisn’t afraid to express his disappointment about the small business sectoreither. “South Africa has in the last 15years failed dismally to develop and sustain a vibrant small business sector,”he says. “In the 90s the buzz was all about bringing the small business sector,particularly black business, into the mainstream of the economy. “In my opinion, the country has failedto do this. In my time as a farmer, this view was reaffirmed as I had to facethe fact that it was impossible to produce poultry – broiler chickens in mycase – profitably with the constraints inherent in the supply value chain.” Monopolies are seriously hampering andsabotaging the development of a competitive economy which canaccommodate more players, Tshivhase believes. “More participants in the economy willimmediately result in employment, poverty reduction, economic growth, pricedecreases and the lowering of inflation,” he adds.


Tshivhase says that LumaCon plans togrow its market share and become a competitive industry player. “Five yearsfrom now I see myself achieving my dream, which is to be among the top airconditioning companies in southern Africa. Iknow that to get there, I’ll have to change my business model. “One of the biggest challenges is toget every staff member putting their shoulder to the wheel. The changes I planto make to my current business model will include employing project managersand farming out labour to sub-contractors.”And if you are wondering how thecurrent downturn has affected LumaCon, don’t. “It’s not a problem for usbecause we are not participating in the recession,” he says with a wide smileand a twinkle in his eye.

  • Company: LumaConAir Conditioning
  • Player:Derrick Tshivhase
  • Est.1986
  • Contact:+27 11 656 4422,


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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