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Tevo: Patrick Bennett & Robin Read

A small start-up shakes up the direct response television marketing sector

Juliet Pitman



Patrick Bennett & Robin Read of Tevo

When asked how they define innovation Patrick Bennett and Robin Read, co-founders of Tevo, have a ready answer: “It means bringing something truly new to the market, something that customers have never seen before.”

That’s the foundation upon which their business is built and it’s what they claim has allowed them, after only 22 months of operation, to take on industry big guns with a 25-year history in the direct response television (DRTV) market.

Read hails from a financial and systems background and was a partner at Deloitte & Touche before joining M-Cubed Holdings to turn around its ailing wealth management division. Bennett was previously managing director of Verimark and marketing director for Massdiscounters’ Game and Dion stores.

But as he is quick to point out, Tevo has had to fight for every inch it gained. Launching a start-up against such strong, well-established competitors meant the battle was always going to be tough. The partners left lucrative careers and pooled their substantial business experience to build Tevo.

The first year was tough. “We had to weather an in-depth seven-month planning process prior to operation. Neither of us had any income, but we knew that research and planning was vital to build a business that could absorb rapid growth in its early stages,” he says.

Next came the challenge of establishing a toe-hold as a fourth industry player. “We had to fight for our space,” says Bennett. “No one laid out a red carpet for us, but we had good products and were able to hang our hat on innovation.” The planning and research paid off.

“Our competitors were all in the copy game. As soon as one company had a product, the rest would follow suit. Our promise to retailers was that Tevo would never be just another industry player. We guaranteed we would bring innovation to an industry that had gone stale and that we would never supply them with even one product their stores already had,” Bennett explains.

Staying true to their word has meant extensive travel to all parts of the world to source unique products. Tevo also works with local developers to bring new products to market. “Our first criterion is innovation.

Secondly, the product must be of excellent quality because if the perception you create is not congruent with the customer’s experience of the product, you’re in for a quick industry exit. Products sell if you can tell a story about them, so that’s another criterion. And the product must sell at an appropriate price.”

Bennett highlights the importance of balancing gut feel with a tried and tested process of selection, saying, “More heads are better than one. You have to get input from others.” In keeping with their promise, each of the nine products Tevo has launched, from the Slinky Hose to the Rapid heat reflecting ironing board, has been new to the South African market.

They point out that many of them have already been copied by competitors. The sales generated from these nine products have managed to secure Tevo second place in the market, but their appetite for new territory isn’t showing any signs of abating. “We’re chasing the market leaders now and they’d better know it.”

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dusty

    May 4, 2016 at 10:40

    I know that this article was written some time ago but as i do not have the email or Facebook addresses of these 2 gentlemen (whom i would like to have contacted directly) i trust that the message i am sending will get through to them via your magazine. As Entrepreneurs an reading your article above i would like to congradulate both of them on their achievements. However, in this day and age there are many of us that when we have a problem with a company’s after sale service we tend to ignore the problem and don’t bring the issue to the attention of the people whose company’s livelyhood is at stake as a result of “Bad Service”. For the record, I am not one of those people who ignores Poor after Sales Service from any Company. Whilst TEVO has great products, there is still a lot to be desired regarding there Customer Call Centre and there After Care Services especially with regard to obtaining new/repacement Parts for their products. I purchased 2 vacuum cleaners from Makro Cape Gate branch and as a result of damaged parts i have been trying to source these items without any success. After numerous calls to their Call Centre (which directed me to an answering machine each and every time i called) and leaving voicemail messages with my name and phone number, i have not yet received any return calls. Why have a Call Centre? I contacted the person at Cape Gate thru whom i had purchased these items and she was very helpful. She gave me a contact name and number of a person at their local office in Airport Industria Cape Town with whom i could make contact. I have been trying for 2 days now to get thru to this number without success. When i call the number is either engaged or when i do get thru it rings but after holding on for up to 4 minutes i receive no answer. Again there appears to be someting horribly wrong with their “Communications” set up. So if this message does somehow get thru to Patrick Bennett or Robin Read, could either one of them contact me at my email address “” if they need any further clarifications regarding my frustrations with their company’s “Customer After Sales Communications and Services”. Thank you……Eugene Ricketts.

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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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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.

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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




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.

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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.

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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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