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SOAR Institute: Riaad Isaacs and Gavin Friedman

Two entrepreneurs devise a whole new approach to business coaching.

Juliet Pitman



Riaad Isaacs and Gavin Friedman

In a competitive business environment, a good business coach can make all the difference to a corporate manager or an entrepreneur. But as the business coaching market experiences unprecedented global growth, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for coaching companies to differentiate themselves – and for customers to know which coach to choose.

Starting small

For a small start-up that challenge is amplified. This is why Riaad Isaacs and Gavin Friedman, founders of the SOAR Institute, made it their goal to come up with a unique, and uniquely effective, coaching model.

“When we formed the SOAR Institute, our goal was to help individuals, teams and organisations uncover new possibilities. We believed that by changing the way they observe themselves and the world, and by shifting their attitudes and beliefs, we could help them create new contexts for success and sustainability,” says co-founder Riaad Isaacs. SOAR stands for the four core principles of Success, Opportunity, Action and Result, which Isaacs and Friedman use during a specialised coaching process. “Essentially, we explore why and how human beings do what they do and whether they can be and do things more effectively,” says Isaacs.

Doing it differently

SOAR uses a specific coaching methodology called called High Velocity Coaching™. As Isaacs explains, it’s short, concise, gets to the point quickly and helps clients reach set outcomes and actions very fast. Most of the foundation research for SOAR was gleaned from the partners’ own exposure to traditional coaching methods, and their sense that there was ‘something missing’.

Isaacs outlines the drivers behind High Velocity Coaching™: “We worked with many people and felt that in many instances, traditional methods of coaching were long and laborious and took ages to help someone reach a set of outcomes. Many people require coaching because they are stuck on a particular issue. Our process helps them to become unstuck and reach a
solution quickly.  

“Today’s business executives constantly find themselves in high velocity situations, where swift, impactful decisions must be made without much data or precedence. It is in these scenarios that a coaching approach must be direct, honest, effective and above all be able to cut out all extraneous information and hone in like a laser to only what is relevant and pertinent,” he continues.

Signing a partner, doing the groundwork Isaacs and Friedman knew that they’d need to get a solid partner behind them if they wanted to create a company with the kind of credibility that would attract top business clientele. “We partnered with a US-based company that develops the specific set of diagnostic tools needed, and signed for the agency in South Africa,” Isaacs says. The pair then invested many hours planning which markets to target and investigating which products would be best suited to each. “We use a host of diagnostic tools that are designed for individuals, organisations and teams, all of which can benefit from High Velocity Coaching™. This also allowed us to cover a more diverse market,” Isaacs explains.

Launching the business

He describes High Velocity Coaching™ as ‘different by experience’, explaining that people often have to experience it before they understand how effective it can be. To this end, the business organises free 15-minute coaching sessions targeted at entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs face highly specific challenges, and laser-targeted coaching can help them enormously. At these free sessions, they get to experience first-hand how powerful the High Velocity Coaching™ methodology is,” Isaacs adds. Like many start-ups the business’s marketing strategy is centred on PR campaigns and ‘earned media.’ “For example we’ve appeared on radio shows talking about the methodology and then given away free coaching sessions to listeners as part of a competition,” Isaacs explains.

Successes to date

Since its launch in 2008, SOAR has already signed on some impressive clients. “We’ve been coaching the Exco of a JSE listed company for the last six months and they have just renewed their contract for the next year as they are very excited about the progress they are making,” says Isaacs.

SOAR Institute

Players: Riaad Isaacs and Gavin Friedman
Est: 2008
Contact :+27 11 566 2000,

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.


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.






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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Company Posts

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




Vital Stats

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.


“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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