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Morrisjones&co: Nina Morris & Angel Jones

From small, if not modest beginnings, to astounding success

Juliet Pitman

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Nina Morris and Angel Jones of Morris Jones and Co

The first thing you notice about NinaMorris and Angel Jones of morrisjones&co is their energy. The atmospherecrackles with the electricity of it. When I visit their swanky offices inWestcliff, Johannesburg, Morris is late after being held up in a previousmeeting and explodes into the room, talking at a mile a minute and introducingherself in-between. Jones contributes at various points in the conversation asthey explain the story of their success. It’s one that involves big nameclients like kulula.com, Wimpy, Virgin Mobile, Southern Sun, McCarthy, KWV andDiscovery, to name but a few.

Jones, who’d been working at M&CSaatchi in London, visited South Africa in 2000 on a scouting mission to find aprospective partner for a local M&C Saatchi operation. At that point,Morris, who’d been working at Leo Burnett, was itching to make a move. “We metover coffee and just clicked. The universe conspired and the planets collidedand within a week we were flying to Londonand within two we were opening an ad agency,” she recalls.“Many people told me I was being overlyambitious to think I was going to find a business partner in somebody I didn’tknow at all,” adds Jones, “but I knew the instant Nina said that if we weregoing to do it, she didn’t want to start in a garage and save funds and buildthe thing up, and that she wanted the smartest address in town, the chemistrywas perfect and she was right.”

Following the ‘go huge or go home’philosophy, the pair used the funding from their parent company to openupmarket offices in the heart of Sandton. “They were tiny but they gave theright impression – and perception is reality in this industry. We knew thatbrains and talent aren’t enough – you need to look the part as well,” saysMorris. “So we opened with an awesome office space and no clients, but wereckoned it was more of a risk not to take a risk,” adds Jones.The risk paid off, as she relates: “Our bigbreak came after six months when Comair approached us to pitch for a new budgetairline they were proposing to call Comair Lite. We were up against four other agencies and in our pitch we suggested they callit kulula.com – derived from the Zulu word for ‘easy’. It was a generic enoughname to allow us to apply it to other brand extensions that we had in mind –cars, beds etc,” she explains. “It also allowed us to communicate the bookingchannel in the name because we didn’t have enough money to do another campaigneducating customers about how and where to book,” Morris adds. Together, theydesigned everything from what the aeroplanes would look like to seat coverfabrics and uniforms.

The break came at a time of enormouspressure from head office in London,who were feeling the pinch as their biggest client, British Airways, cut budgetspending overnight following 9/11. “M&C Saatchi wanted to pull our fundingbut we fought and fought and kept it together, got more and more clients andthen eventually bought them out 18 months after starting. That’s howmorrisjones&co was born,” relates Morris. “We were delighted because itmeant we went from each owning 10% of all the blood and sweat we were puttingin, to owning 50% each. From there, the business just took off. Within a monthwe won Wimpy and Sun International,” Jones adds.That said, there were challenges along theway. When asked what the biggest one was, they both answer at the same time:Cash flow. “It’s the hardest thing entrepreneurs face but if you can manage itwell you will succeed. If you can’t, you will go down. And there were timeswhen we had to personally fund the business. But no matter how difficult it gotwe had a hunger and passion and a commitment to succeed. There was never anyquestion in our minds that we wouldn’t make it. We’ve taken risks but they’vebeen calculated ones – and we’ve certainly had a mixture of both luck andmagic,” says Morris. It’s a magic that has lead to big-name clients,vertigo-inducing success and a range of awards, the most recent of which is anomination for the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Awards. Affirmationindeed, but they’ve earned it.

Contact: +27 11 486 1284; www.morrisjones.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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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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