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Xanita: James Beattie

An innovative eco-friendly board hits the big time in the sustainable business market.

Juliet Pitman



James Beattie of Xanita

As global pressure mounts on corporates andindustry to reduce their carbon footprint in the face of global warmingconcerns, companies across the world are going to have to start findingalternative, sustainable and eco-friendly solutions to the way they conductbusiness across a range of different spheres. The suppliers who can provide themwith such solutions will be the ones bringing home the future bacon. Just askJames Beattie, CEO of Xanita, a local company with global clout, thanks to thedevelopment of a highly versatile, completely recyclable eco-friendly type ofboard.

The principal product, known as X-Board, isa kraft-based composite board sandwiched between two outer layers of laminate.In cross-section, the value added product mirrors the inside of a beehive.Although X-Board is available in various thicknesses, it is exceptionallylight, yet strong – giving it outstanding marketing edge over conventionalproducts such as particle or plasterboard. And most importantly, it’s eco-friendly.”Kraft board is essentially made from 98% recycled paper that, in our case,Mondi Recycling collects and repulps. It contains no plastics or PVCs,”explains Beattie. Similar products use polyethylene which repulpers rejectbecause it contaminates their paper stream. “We’ve stayed away frompolyethylene and this has given us a huge advantage.”

While South African companies (with a fewnotable exceptions such as Woolworths) have been slower to recognise theimportance of such eco-friendly products, Beattie and his team believe that thelocal market will eventually get there. In the meantime, they have bigger fishto fry. “We’ve just got a really big break in the UK. CBS Outdoor, whichhandles advertising on the famous London busses, the London Underground,Docklands’ Light Railway and the Tram, are moving away from PVC and plasticadvertising signage to our paper-based Mondi Xtreme board,” he says. A Dutchand a French company made the shortlist of three for the contract, which wasawarded to Xanita on the strength of its eco-friendly offering. Getting such an innovative product tomarket was not all plain sailing. “The biggest challenge was building amanufacturing process that had never been built before. There was no textbookor trade show we could go to and buy something off the shelf. We had toengineer everything ourselves and the engineers kept reminding us that therewas no guarantee it would work. It took nine months longer than expected to getright, but we now have a world-class product.”

The set-up process for such a globaloperation has also been far from cheap, but Beattie is proud of the fact thatthe business is still private and management-owned. “We intend to stay thatway. There were two initial rounds of seed capital, 81% of which was providedby company managers and 19% of which came from angel investors who liked theidea.” As the business has grown, demand forXanita’s products has come from unexpected quarters. “We’re sending manycontainers a month to Australia where the product is used in the furnitureindustry and boat-builders in Cape Town use our core in the manufacture of catamarans.We didn’t see either of these markets initially but the product is soversatile. There is also a massive opportunity in the construction industry,”says Beattie. “We don’t really know where the end-game is right now but we’reextremely happy to be playing!” Contact: +27 21 852 0606;

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.


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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