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The Anatomy of John Vlismas

This South African comedic bad-ass is serious about business.

Nadine Todd




From comic to successful businessman heading up Whacked, a multi-million rand agency and production business, John Vlismas hasn’t lost sight of what makes him stand out as a local artist. In fact, it’s his open, all-inclusive attitude that has made Whacked such a success.

Related: The Anatomy of Scott Picken

The best advice I’ve ever received was from Pieter Dirk-Uys

He told me to put some spikes amongst the fluff, and it’s become a golden talisman for me.

I have huge respect for Pieter. He’s such a gentleman, and such a lady, and such an amazing artist. The day he patted my knee and said, “We’re artists, we must behave accordingly,” I was beside myself to be recognised as an artist by one of South Africa’s greats – and the way he conducts himself has stayed with me.

It’s important to remember that great advice can’t find you unless you’re open to it.

In the East they have a saying, ‘when the student is ready the teacher appears,’ and I find this very fitting.

It’s up to you to listen and learn – no alarm clock can ever wake you up if you’re pretending to be asleep.

Great business advice can be drawn from non-business contexts, and vice versa.

Seeking out the ‘Whys’

I missed the formal education boat by not attending university, and as a result I’ve developed a habit of seeking out the ‘whys’.

You can never know too much, and I find it’s far more helpful in both my personal and professional life to be curious rather than have knee-jerk reactions to situations. South Africa doesn’t have one big homogenous culture. If we want to make the most of this country and what it has to offer, we need to be aware of and open to that fact.

I surround myself with an incredibly eclectic group of people

Jon Foster-Pedley, the dean of Henley Business School, is both a friend and mentor.

My best friend is a music manager; I’m in close contact with a Rabbi I met on a plane, and I spent a lot of time painting with Robert Hodgins before he passed away. It’s important to seek the advice and opinions of people in vastly different disciplines to your own.

Their insights can give you a different angle, and often you’ll find solutions in unexpected places. It’s kept my mind open to new possibilities, and has enriched my life as a result.

We’re the kids in the business world, and proud of it

Kids don’t start life with engrained prejudices, and a conservative view of the world. They’re curious, and open. They’re learning each day, and they don’t take things at face value – they ask why.

As a business we’re like that. My pet peeves are mindless conservatism and prejudice. So what if someone has tattoos; why should you judge their abilities and morals based on body art, for example? Do you know how much body art costs?

Related: The Anatomy of…Siphiwe Tshabalala

We’re taught to toe the line, wear chinos and play golf. That’s just not us, and yet we’ve built an amazing business with incredible people anyway – on our terms.

We’re growing, and our client base is becoming more corporate because we put on excellent events. But we won’t lose our personality; it makes us who we are.

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

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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.






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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