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Re:Public: Sacha Matulovich & Pepsi Pokane

A creative media company reminds the industry what creativity is really all about

Juliet Pitman

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Sacha Matulovich & Pepsi Pokane of Re:Public

When it comes to media, fresh is what’s hot. Being in the know – or even better, setting the trend that everyone wants to be in the know about –  is what media businesses pride themselves on. So it’s surprising that the traditional big guns in media have been so slow to realise that a change is sweeping their own industry, and that the people who are doing it right are the ‘little guys’. People like Sacha Matulovich and Pepsi Pokane, partners in creative media company Re:Public.

Except that when you look at the work they’re producing and the clients they’re servicing (not to mention the turnover they’re doing), they don’t seem so little anymore. A four-year-old company, started by two twenty something year-olds, has produced ground-breaking design and production work for the likes of Coca-Cola, Johnnie Walker, SABC, Motorola and MultiChoice. And they did it without any capital. Such a team deserves a place at the table with the heavy-weights.

But it’s precisely their desire to breakaway from ‘traditional media’ that has made them so successful. Matulovich started Re:Public after a stint as an intern at Network BBDO, his first ‘position’ after leaving advertising school. “After being in an agency for a couple of months, I decided I didn’t want to go into advertising,” he said. Some people are born entrepreneurs and Matulovich is one of them. While still in college, he built up a small but profitable ‘business’ doing graphic design work.

Unfazed by his brief and unsatisfactory experience in the profession he thought he’d chosen to follow, Matulovich immediately set up Re:Public. “My angle was to create brands from scratch for small start-up companies, conceptualising the name, look and feel, identity and logo.” Of course, start-ups often didn’t have the money to pay him the going rate for such work, so Matulovich worked on risk, taking a profit share in the brands he was instrumental in creating. Pokane took a similar diversion from his original path.

Having studied a degree in International Business, he went into television presenting and eventually producing, which is where he found his niche, getting involved in shows like CineMagic, Standard Bank Joy of Jazz and The Toasty Show. The partnership between him and Matulovich brought together two talents – one with a strong branding and design orientation, the other an innovator in production ideas – to create something new.  As Matulovich explains, “It was quite different at the time for a production company to arrive at a pitch with pictures of what the thing would look like, with logos and brand positioning. Typically, production companies would come along with alot of words about what they’d do, giving no thought to what the ‘brand’ would look like.” This approach secured a contract with SABC to produce Afro-Music Café and Re:Public was on its way.

“It was an incredible experience for us, a company with a turnover of about R1 million, to get one contract worth around R1,2 million. Looking back, though, it was just the beginning.” The real tipping point for them was their Urban Massive production for MNet. It was here that Re:Public moved from merely creating a production for a broadcaster to creating branded entertainment. When Motorola learned about the African, urban youth culture focus of the show, they immediately saw the potential it had to strengthen their brand presence in that market.

“It was the fastest sponsorship deal I’ve ever seen. It was signed in about a week,” remembers Matulovich. A traditional media company might have advised Motorola to buy up advertising slots around the show but not Re:Public. Instead, they worked the brand into the storyline of the show through clever but subtle product placement. It proved to be a major step for Re:Public. The next thing they knew, Coca-Cola was wanting their own Urban Massive. Johnnie Walker was among the big brand-name clients that followed. “This is definitely where we’ve innovated the most,” agree Matulovich and Pokane. “While TV and branding and all other media are great, no medium should really stand alone. We’re interested increating concepts for clients and we believe that concepts are bigger and more important than any medium. The appropriate medium should follow the concept.”

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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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