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Nic Socks: Nic Haralambous

Having co-founded and sold mobile social network builder, Motribe, Nic Haralambous is focusing on the foundations of style.

Monique Verduyn

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Building an asset of value

In September last year, Africa’s largest mobile messaging platform and social network, Mxit, acquired Cape Town-based mobile community start-up Motribe, founded two years ago by Nic Haralambous and Vincent Maher. Motribe had been working with Mxit on various applications for the past year, and part of Motribe’s appeal was its ability to build compelling apps that users love.

An inspiring tale

It’s a great story that should provide motivation for other local start-ups, says serial entrepreneur Haralambous, who – with the profitable deal under his belt – has since gone on to launch a truly niche, delightful online store called Nic Socks which sells, you guessed it, a range of crazy colourful socks much like the ones he is known for wearing.

“Style starts with a decision,” says the website. Shoppers are advised “to consider every detail, and to entrust the big picture’s success to the smart, small decisions that get you there, starting with your socks.”

Proving a point

The socks are locally sourced, designed and manufactured. They’re made of silky, durable bamboo and each design is limited to a few hundred.

“I got tired of paying a fortune for imported socks and I knew we could do it cheaper and better locally, which is why I started the business. But I also set myself a goal. I wanted to see if I really had entrepreneurial chops, so I gave myself two months to build and launch an online business.”

Just get started

True to form, Haralambous did it in six weeks. He spent a grand total of R5 000 on designing, manufacturing and stocking the first batch of socks. He sold 800 pairs in ten days at R99 a pair.

“I wanted to shut up the people who say it’s too difficult to start a business in South Africa,” he says.

Online’s time has come

Haralambous’s goal is to up sales to 3 000 pairs of socks a month, and once he has a captive audience, to start branching out into matching outfits.

He cites Yuppie Chef’s Paul Galatsis as his e-commerce guru. “He says that if you have a niche product and you are able to get into e-commerce now, you will learn and grow with the market which is really taking off.”

With men’s fashion one of the fastest growing online e-commerce spaces globally, he’s undoubtedly on a sure footing.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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