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Standing Out from the Crowd. Q&A with David Ryan of Rhino Africa Safaris

Critically analyse your unique selling proposition to avoid being just another ‘me too’ business.

Nadine Todd



David-Ryan-Rhino-Africa-Safaris-Success Stories

Every business owner thinks they’re offering something unique and ‘must have’ to their clients, but how many take the time to critically evaluate whether their assumptions hold true?

David Ryan, founder of Rhino Africa Safaris, isn’t interested in being ‘just another tour operator’ and his fanatical focus on his unique selling proposition (USP) almost a decade after he launched his niche business is proof of this dedication to standing out from the crowd.

How have you ensured growth over the past decade?

I’ve always believed that successful businesses innovate rather than imitate, and the only way to do that is by constantly asking yourself what sets you apart from your competitors. If you can’t answer that simple question, you’re probably a ‘me too’ business and your customers would just as easily do business with your competitors.

What are your USPs?

First, we create tailor-made packages that really take our clients and their needs into consideration. We link clients directly to service providers, which means better rates, and we’ve opened a number of different European language sites, as this is our core target market.

We also support a few worthy causes, and choose our service providers based on this ethos, and our most important USP is our online platform.

What’s so special about tailor-made packages? A lot of tour operators make this claim.

We built the business organically starting with one destination. We were prepared to grow slowly as long as it meant we could really live up to this claim. I wanted to make sure our consultants knew everything there was to know about each destination.

As the business grew, we branched out into a second, third and then multiple destinations, with each consultant having spent time in those areas and at our service providers. We can shape each itinerary around the client’s specific profile as a result, and because we also put clients directly in touch with providers, they receive great rates.

Do clients really care what causes you support?

Some don’t, but many consumers are becoming more aware of social and environmental challenges, and they’re choosing to spend their money with businesses that care about the communities they operate within.

Every provider we do business with has a programme to give back to the community, or runs a conservation project. In this way, our clients know that by supporting our business, they’re supporting worthwhile causes throughout southern Africa.

What’s your biggest competitive advantage?

The Internet. Back in 2004, when I was planning the business model, launching an online company was a risk, but I also believed there was a big opportunity. Building an online platform would keep my overheads low while allowing me to offer affordable tailor-made travel packages.

It would access the international market because it was online, and I was devising my entire marketing strategy around the fact that the Internet would soon experience enormous growth, and Google would introduce advertising — which it did through AdWords and its pay-per-click model.

Today everyone’s online, so to keep ahead of the curve, I pay a lot of attention to the latest online user innovations, and we’re constantly investing in web development.

Vital Stats

  • Player: David Ryan
  • Company: Rhino Africa Safaris
  • Est: 2005
  • X-Factor: The ability to always look ahead, ensuring the business doesn’t become complacent.
  • Contact:

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.


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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