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Why the V&A Food Market is a Great Place to do Business

Greg Anderson is the entrepreneur behind one of Cape Town’s busiest food markets. The V&A Food Market sees 12 500 visitors a weekend in summer. Sound like a place you want to launch?

Tracy Lee Nicol

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I’m a serial entrepreneur and have founded tech businesses in England and South Africa. The V&A Waterfront put out a tender to build a 100% food market and my business partners and I leapt at the chance to apply our tech and IT knowledge to a market.

We won the tender on 24 September 2012, with a deadline to open by 1 December. It was a challenging time, but we managed, with support from our V&A partners.

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What makes this market unique?

We’re different because we’re a hybrid model of market and retail and we’re open seven days a week. This means it’s a space for our 50 vendors to be full-time artisans and foodies who don’t need to travel between markets, and they get practical experience of operating a business.

For example, each stand has its own water and electricity meter so the vendors manage their own fixed expenses. An example of our impact as an incubator is a vendor selling bubble tea who has grown to seven stores around Cape Town’s markets.

By October 2012, word was spreading through the close-knit market community that we were looking for tenants. With the prime location, applications started flooding in and we had to be very selective about who we brought on board – we’re always looking for unique products that aren’t just aimed at tourists, but locals too as it’s an even split with visitors.

What is the appeal of markets?

People want wholesome food and they want to know its story and origin. It’s a global trend that is gaining momentum in South Africa. There are now 42 markets between Cape Town and Paarl. I don’t see that rate of growth lasting, and the numbers will stabilise in the next few years.

What should a prospective marketeer know before launching into business?

Marketing is very important. We’re able to draw attention to the market through large billboards and street posters which vendors would never be able to achieve on their own, but it’s also up to them to create a social media presence. It’s not expensive to market your offering these days.

What should vendors know about leases?

Each market is different and will have its own model, so do your research. At our market we don’t have a blanket approach as fresh produce vendors have a lower profit margin than finished food products. So some get a flat rate, while others pay a percentage of turnover. Ensure the market you’re joining has a model that will help you be profitable too.

Markets are also great starting points because there isn’t the pressure of a long-term lease. That said, you need to know and accept the terms and conditions of leasing a spot, particularly at very popular markets with long waiting lists.

How seriously should prospective vendors take their market?

Very seriously. With popular markets you need to prove that you’re passionate and able to run a successful business. We don’t just look at product offering and presentation, we insist on a business plan and interview.

What is a common mistake made by vendors?

They often miscalculate how much money they’re going to make. It takes time to build a following and the food market is tough. Cooked food is highly profitable but you’re competing with 50 other vendors for customers’ lunch money, notwithstanding external competition. You must manage your finances properly – plan for slower months so the business doesn’t collapse, and make contingencies.

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Are markets more profitable in summer?

That depends on the kind of business you’re running. In high summer this market can see 12 500, and in winter that can drop to 8 000. Summer will see light, fresh foods, drinks and ice-creams; in winter people will want heartier foods. You’ve got to be attuned to the changing seasons and customer demands.

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.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.

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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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