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Web Africa: Matthew Tagg

Young Entrepreneur Attracts Top Performers With Appealing Work Environment

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Matthew Tagg of Web Africa

“Welcome to the wa plex, your home awayfrom home. Please make your way through the bright, colourful lobby to ourentertainment room. Table tennis, Football, or a game of Pool anyone? No, thenpull up a bean bag and chill. For something more active, why not try our fullyequipped gym, complete with luminous pink exercise balls. Our special on themenu today is grilled line fish with the chef’s secret topping. Need a drink?Your order is ready at the WA Bar, where you can join in a session of ‘GuitarHero III’ on our Wii console.”

This is not a boutique hotel or exclusiveprivate club, but it could be your welcome if you visit 35 Hope Street in CapeTown, the head office of the award-winning Internet Service Provider (ISP) andweb hosting firm, Web Africa. Founded by Matthew Tagg in 1997, while still atschool, Web Africa has grown to over 70 employees serving more than 20 000clients. Impressive growth considering Tagg started the firm by selling acomputer to his teacher and then some laptops to his father’s friend. So, why would a young entrepreneurialbusiness facing the usual monthly cash flow challenges invest around R1 million in an interior decorator? For Tagg it is about creating a uniquevibe that helps attract and keep the best of the best. With a recognisedshortage of skills in South Africa, especially in the technology space, Tagg iscompeting for top talent against his larger, more established rivals.

Sound a bit like Google? In many ways itis. Management guru Gary Hamel’s new book, The Future of Management, talksabout how Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, set out to create acompany where they would like to “hang out – a place filled with cleveroverachievers energised by the chance to work on some of the world’s mostbeguiling problems.” Tagg is similarly motivated by making his own decisionsand doesn’t see himself fitting into large corporate structures anytime soon.The Googleplex in Palo Alto,

California, is famous for its wacky workenvironment and full-time chef, who previously cooked for the band, GratefulDead. Tagg shares Google’s zeal for technology and even admits to a bit of“information deficit disorder”. With his senior team, Tagg is creating anappealing space where the best and the brightest want to spend their wakinghours.

Silver, black and orange walls, however,are not enough. Tagg believes strongly in also creating an open and transparentperformance culture with an obsessive focus on customer service. Performance ismeasured by a large scoreboard for all to see and is based directly on feedbackreceived from customers. Last year, Web Africa won the ISP of the Year awardfor the second consecutive year, with the judges commenting that the firm was“praised by its subscribers for its great service and easy-to-use systems. Thecompany received an overall score of 8,5 out of 10, leading with a rating of9,2 for ease of use and 8,9 for billing.” This performance is supported bytailored service training, including senior members of the team personallytraining newer recruits. It is also enhanced by a relatively flat managementstructure and empowered team leaders who drive the day-to-day customer-facingperformance.

Entrepreneurs often create the new. Theysee an opportunity where others may not and regularly reorganise resources toprovide significantly greater value. Tagg’s team at Web Africa have lived thisdefinition, first with a Windows-based web hosting offering and then with entryinto the ADSL market. Web Africa pioneered pre-paid ADSL technology in SouthAfrica and was the first ISP to introduce DSLSecure to the South African market– an effective measure against bandwidth theft and hacking. As a regular skydiver, Tagg is used toseeing the world from a slightly different angle. What advice can he share fromlooking back at the last ten years? “Start early and give yourself time to gainexperience and develop your thoughts”. Not unlike something Sergey Brin andLarry Page would say if they were to reflect on their last ten years. One canonly imagine where the next ten years may take Matthew Tagg.

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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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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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