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The Creative Counsel’s R1-Billion Business Deal

In late 2015, Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved sold their business, The Creative Counsel, to Publicis for an estimated R1 billion. Entrepreneur chatted to them about what it takes to build a valuable business that attracts a buyer.

Nadine Todd




What do you believe are the key factors that separate businesses that attract buyers from those that don’t?

There are a lot of great businesses that do well and have potential for growth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those businesses are attractive for buyers.

Buyers are looking for a well packaged, well-presented entity. In particular, they want to see a clear plan for the future, as what they’re investing in is essentially future growth.

This means that they need to believe the sellers have a strong understanding of the numbers and that their forecasts are realistic and well thought through. In addition, the business needs to be able to continue to grow when the sellers leave, so continuity, succession and real IP are key factors.

How did TCC tick those boxes?

We felt a while back that we have to give TCC a chance to survive and grow beyond its founders, regardless of our personal future plans. As such, we have invested millions of rands and thousands of combined hours in focusing on converting TCC into a business that has intellectual property (IP), systems, processes, technology and infrastructure that could stand on its own and be geared for growth beyond the borders of South Africa.

Our view of TCC has always been to grow it internationally, so when Publicis approached us we saw the value they could add in terms of our expansion plans and we were ready with ideas and thoughts of how to go about expanding into Africa and emerging markets in general. We had a lot of things already worked out, which made the whole process smooth and rewarding for both parties.

Related: It’s Brilliance or Nothing for The Creative Counsel Co-Founders

What have you put in place over the past five years that makes the company an asset of value?


Technology! We’ve embraced technology, systemising our business any which way we can. Even with that focus we’re still nowhere near where we want to be and have a long way to go. Any CEO in today’s times who doesn’t think they have a ‘long way to go’ with technology is simply living in the past.

Technology is the greatest mirage of business. As a leader you need to not only accept this, but embrace it. The rate of change is stupendous and one never really gets to terminal point, but that’s not a reason not to aim for it.

Our asset of value is the technology we have created to run our business and manage our people. It’s our analytics and business intelligence, and yet the opportunities for massive innovation are all around us.

What role have your key employees played in the success of TCC? How has this impacted the deal, and have you put any retention bonuses in place to ensure key staff members stay on?

The day we realised that staff are the key to a sustainable business, our business changed. No amount of technology could make up for unmotivated staff.

Our key staff were absolutely invaluable to the outcome of the deal. Bear in mind that a buyer wants to see strong management with good succession and motivated staff with long tenures and positive outlooks.

We have put a retention plan in place to ensure that the key people that have driven our business forward and gone on the journey with us remain with the organisation as we continue to grow within the Publicis group.

Related: Top Lessons from The Creative Counsel

What advice would you give other business owners who are interested in selling their businesses?

First, think about why you’re interested in selling. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Be sure you’re clear about the kind of buyers you’re looking for and what you expect from them and what they should expect from you and from the business going forward.

Get your affairs in order. Check your corporate governance, your financials and your contracts. Run a thorough due diligence on your business and fill in the blanks. Be prepared.

Then, get yourself experts in the field who know what they’re doing. The devil is in the detail. You are a business owner and business manager, not an M&A expert. Once you start looking for a buyer (or a buyer approaches you), be careful not to let the deal divert your attention. Don’t let the business suffer when you take your eye off the ball because you’re so focused on the deal.

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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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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