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Robotic Innovations: Altus Mostert

Pioneering in a new sector, gaining market share and a reputation for excellence.

Juliet Pitman

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Altus Mostert of Robotic Innovations

It’s never easy to be a pioneer inunchartered territory, but Altus Mostert, founder and MD of RoboticInnovations, is proving himself more than up to the challenge. Just four yearsago he started the company from home with a borrowed laptop. Today he employs 14people and does an annual turnover of R15 million.

The business supplies turnkey solutions tomanufacturing companies and has managed to carve a niche for itself, as Mostertexplains. “In this sector you get companies that supply robotic equipment and companiesthat supply automated equipment. Where we’re different is that we assess abusiness’s needs and develop a turnkey solution to meet those needs, usingrobotic and automated equipment. So while these elements form part of thesystem solution we provide, the value we add extends far beyond the simpledeployment of equipment.” He adds that robotics and automation haveimmense potential to help fill a critical skills shortage gap. “In particular,there is a desperate need for welders, but very few qualified people in thisfield,” he says. Some 90% of the company’s business comes from businessesrequiring welding applications while the remaining 10% is made of up companiesthat require handling solutions. But in spite of growing demand forautomated and robotic solutions, Mostert says the local market still remainssceptical and uninformed about the field in which he operates. “Without doubt,our biggest challenge has been educating the market about what robotics andautomation entail and what their role in the production line will be once thesolutions are deployed, as well as convincing them of the value that theseproducts and systems can add to their business.” Mostert compares the local market withEurope, where he worked for a robotics company in Germany as part of a studentexchange programme while at Pretoria Technikon. “Robotics and automation arefar more widely used in Europe so there is less need to convince people oftheir value.”

To overcome the challenge, he’s investedheavily in disseminating relevant and accessible information to clients andprospective markets. “It’s an ongoing education campaign and it takes time, butover the past four years we definitely noticed an increase in demand andfamiliarity with our solutions. Of course it’s always difficult when a companybuys their first robot, but once they’ve realised the value and are looking atbuying a second one, the road is far smoother and there are fewer obstacles,”he says. Along with ongoing customer education, thebusiness’s success has been boosted by strategic partnerships that Mostertformed early on with other key players in his sector. “We have agreements withFanuk, which supplies robotics, and Link & Electrical, which supplieswelding equipment, to only use their equipment in the deployment of oursolutions, and we get a lot of leads sent through to us by them, which hashelped the business enormously,” he explains. Although there are a few competitors in themarket, Robotic Innovations has gained significant market share and developed areputation for service delivery, excellence and innovation. It was recentlynominated as a finalist in the Business Partners Entrepreneur of the YearAwards, thanks in part to its steep growth curve and business potential. What all this means is that Mostert hasplenty of business to keep him busy. He’s increased his staff complement to 14people and although he says he’s always on the look-out for qualified andexperienced technicians, he has no big expansion plans at the moment. “Our success stories have started togenerate work and this has meant less need to focus on marketing. I thinkultimately we’ve gained market share and developed a reputation throughfocusing on doing things right, and I believe that growth will flow naturally aspart of an organic process if we continue doing that. That’s our focus for thefuture,” he concludes. Contact: +27 12 345 4373; bwww.roboticinnovations.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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