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So!Go: Francois Te Water Naude

It Took An Astute Eye To Spot That There’s More To Cape Wine Farms Than The Grape Harvest

Monique Verduyn

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Francois te Water

It was his frustration with the corporate world that led François te Water Naude, a mechanical engineer by profession, to experiment with condiments. Today his company, Cape Town-based So!Go, has won numerous local and international awards, and its products are known not only for their superior quality, but also for their eye-catching package design.

The company sells over 4 000 bottles of olive oil alone every month and exports 30 different products all over the world.

“I’m a non-conformist, and after 13 years Ihad had enough of the rules and regulations of the business world, so I formed my own engineering consulting firm,” Te Water Naude recalls. Much of his work experience had been in multi million- rand engineering projects with Cape wine farms, where he also gained insight into the importance of trademarks.

As he started to recognise the power that lies in a brand, he also realised that while people raved about South African wines, little was mentioned about South African olive oil – despite the fact that many wine farms in the Western Cape grow olive trees.

“The problem was in the presentation,” he says. “Olive oil is usually plonked on the table in a greasy and unattractive bottle, or it’s decanted into an equally messy pourer. I wanted to make a product that could go from the store to the table and complement any table setting.”

He experimented with a few bottles but decided to shelve the idea while he was growing his consulting firm. When the economy entered a bit of a slump, he decided to take a chance.“I took R3 000 and a box of 100ml bottles to a graphic designer and asked her to come up with something,” he says.

“She informed me that she was in the business of brand development and design. R50 000 later, we agreed on the packaging design for a balsamic vinegar and olive oil set.”Te Water Naude says his engineering background came in handy during the conceptual phase. “The opaque bottle, the silver cap and the logo gave the product upmarket appeal. There’s no doubt that years of experience in engineering design and project management were very helpful.”

His first clients included Giovanni’s Deli, Melissa’s and Spier Wine Estate. It was a hard sell at first – he was peddling a product that everyone already had. “But I had a unique selling proposition,”he says. “So!Go was the first in the world to produce a designer branded olive oil and vinegar set that could be bought in-store and used to dress the dinner table.”

Armed with product samples and top quality photographs, Te Water Naude took the concept to local magazines. This initial legwork resulted in free advertising for So!Go.Being a firm believer in marketing, he incorporated this into a multi-faceted campaign that has seen the company enter and win many competitions.“I visited every radio station I could to talk about the awards and promote the concept. I have also done many talks and participated in many business networking events.”

Sophistication, indulgence and innovation are watchwords of the brand. Te Water Naude notes that around four to eight new products are added to the range every year, taking advantage of new trends in the food sector. “It’s vital to launch fresh products every year to prevent a brand like ours from becoming stale,” he says.

It is this approach that has seen the company expand into the European, US, Canadian and New Zealand markets. “We have dedicated importers in each country so that if we have one hiccup it does not affect the entire export business.”

So!Go has had year-on-year growth of 80% and sales have doubled in 2007. Te Water Naude says it was important to restrict volumes in the beginning, to ensure the product set retained an air of exclusivity. “We would have lost the deli sector if we had also gone straight into supermarkets, but now that the brand is older and well established, we have earned the right to do more with it.”

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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27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton

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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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