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VentureWeb: Matthew Jankelow

An entrepreneur with a different take on the skills shortage wows global clients with what South Africa has to offer.

Juliet Pitman

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Matthew Jankelow

Matthew Jankelow sees the world a little differently. At a time when most of South Africa is bemoaning a critical lack of skills, his company has secured success by outsourcing local skills to multinational organisations across the globe.

VentureWeb provides outsourced strategic and tactical business-to-business marketing services to more than 400 marketers in 49 countries – but the skills stay in South Africa. “We source the very best marketing talent South Africa has to offer, employ those people on a full-time or contract basis, and outsource their skills to our clients,” explains Jankelow. The model is not a new one – offshoring skills to more cost-effective geographical locations is common practice in the contact centre industry, for example.

Seeing Potential

But although offshoring has traditionally been about outsourcing back-office, non-essential operations to emerging economies where skills are cheaper, Jankelow believes there is potential for it to be so much more. “While cost saving is a key consideration for companies considering offshoring, it is becoming more than simply finding skills at a cheaper price, and includes engaging great talent at a reasonable rate,” he says.

A study conducted in the US by the Duke University Centre for International Business Education and
Research shows that outsourcing companies are increasingly getting involved in mission-critical functions like new product development, research and developing, engineering and knowledge-intensive analytical services. “When you think about it, the skills crisis is not just confined to South Africa – it’s a global business challenge. And in a global short-skills market, it makes sense for companies to source skills from every available talent pool around the world,” says Jankelow.

Overcoming Perceptions

The challenge for any outsourcing company is to prove to prospective clients that they have the goods. “The nature of this business is that it is done remotely, largely via digital communications such as teleconferencing, skype, email and the Internet.

Companies sometimes have very real fears about service delivery, cultural fit and work ethic,” Jankelow explains. There are of course also the First World perceptions of doing business in Africa to overcome. For Jankelow, this means proving that VentureWeb is a legitimate organisation, with the necessary technological capacity, service delivery credentials and, of course, skills.

Adding the Human Touch

“Because of these perceptions and concerns, the sales cycle is complex and ultimately any outsourcing company needs to acknowledge that personal relationships need some level of personal contact. A great deal of contact can be managed via video conferencing but it’s critical that we conduct some face-to-face visits.

“It’s ideal if clients can reciprocate, so they can see where and how we work, and that we are a professionally run organisation,” he says. All of this costs money, but Jankelow is nothing if not resourceful. He recently entered a competition and won business class tickets to anywhere in the world for a period of a year. This will go a long way to helping VentureWeb expand its client base.

Attracting Top Talent

Having best of breed talent is a key success indicator for VentureWeb, and the company has devised a compelling value proposition to make sure it attracts the best skills in the industry.

“The nature of the business makes it less material where staff work so our full-time staff have the option of working at home on certain days of the week,” says Jankelow. The company also has a significant pool of contract employees. “The flexibility on offer means we can attract top players in the industry who still want to work but who don’t necessarily want to be tied down by a full-time job, or inflexible working hours,” he continues.

This allows VentureWeb to attract and retain the kind of talent it would not necessarily be able to afford otherwise. “We can’t compete with large corporates on benefits, but many of our contractors earn really well, and we can offer people valuable flexibility, which is attractive and makes them think twice before moving to another company,” he says.

Looking Ahead

In the past four years, VentureWeb has opened operations in Canada, more than tripled its revenue and secured its position as market leader in the marketing skills outsourcing sector.

And while Jankelow is excited about the future of his company, he’s equally enthusiastic about the growth of the outsoucing industry: “South Africa has some fantastic skills and the opportunity exists to establish the country as a global skills hub. Doing so not only brings in great revenue, but it means that the country is able to retain its top talent. Sure there are challenges relating to infrastructure and the like, but if we get these right, the possibilities are endless.”

VentureWeb

Player: Matthew Jankelow
Est: 1998
Contact: +27 11 300 2700; www.ventureweb.com

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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.

CEOwise

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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

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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.

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“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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