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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+.


27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton



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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton



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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton



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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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