Connect with us

Upstarts

Digital Voodoo: Seth Mbhele

A digital firm makes use of the best talent around the world to cater for its international clients.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

Seth-Mbhele

In the war for talent, one of the biggest challenges businesses have traditionally faced is getting the best minds together in the same space. Until the last decade, it’s been predominantly a geographic challenge, but some businesses have found a solution that not only transcends the restrictions of a conventional office, but cities and even countries too.

One such company is Digital Voodoo, a digital marketing agency that works almost exclusively in cyberspace. “Our earliest clients were based in London. I had helped out a friend with overflow work, and the business grew from there,” says Seth Mbhele, Digital Voodoo’s founder.

If clients were based oversees, why couldn’t employees be multi-national as well?

“The evolution of the digital world means that businesses can operate completely online, provided the business model allows for it,” Mbhele continues. “The fact that we focus on online development and strategy and not on print campaigns made it easier for us to create a wholly online business, but we still needed to develop excellent systems and platforms to ensure efficient workflows.”

A multi-national society

These systems and platforms make it possible for both clients and employees to be based around the world. Employees all work on their specific section of a project, while clients can log on at any time to see the progress of a project.

“As we evolved and developed over the years we realised that we didn’t want to be hindered by geography when sourcing the best minds,” says Mbhele. “We focused on getting our systems right so that multiple people could work on a project while maintaining an efficient work flow.”

Mbhele’s only rule is that everyone needs to be able to communicate in English. The result is an extremely eclectic team. “We have developers based in London, Berlin and Prague, our sales, admin and graphics team is in Joburg, we have a copywriter in Cape Town and a junior developer in Durban. As long as everyone understands their role and uses the platform correctly, we are able to produce great work, on time.”

Specialised skills

The strategy is simple. Mbhele focuses on filling niche roles, enabling the business to offer best-of-breed minds to solve specific projects. “Our principle clients are agencies. They develop and sell a concept to their clients, and then we create the user experience – the platforms that will make their visions work.

It’s specialised work and in many cases it isn’t viable for agencies to have these kinds of skills and talents employed permanently. We offer the perfect outsourced solution.”

Digital Voodoo’s recruitment process is core to their strategy. Mbhele pays attention to talent from around the world. As his company grows, so he is able to approach said talent and offer them contracts. “I’ve have learnt that it pays to wait before making a new hire.

I’ll keep my eye on someone until I know I can afford them, and then make an offer. We aren’t just filling roles – we’re creating new competencies to add to our portfolio. Once we’ve selected a candidate, we usually put them on a test project. If they execute the project well and on time, we can negotiate the employment contract.”

There is a lot of flexibility in that no-one is office bound, but this also means that every member of the team needs to be able to self-manage.

“Our differentiator is that we have assembled a highly skilled team able to meet very niche challenges,” says Mbhele. Most of Digital Voodoo’s business is repeat business from agencies. Having grown through word-of-mouth referrals, the agency is acutely aware of the standards it has created that it now needs to maintain. This begins and ends with how well each job is executed.

Vital stats

Player: Seth Mbhele

Company: Digital Voodoo

Launched: 2005

Contact: +27 (0)11 039 8610

digitalvoodoo.co.za

 

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Advertisement
4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. KJ

    Oct 31, 2012 at 14:28

    Hmmm, I disagree. I was on a Project with Voodoo and and I can tell you that they were not professional at all, in fact I was told that the project was critically important and I must start straight away and will get paid the working deposit in a weeks time. I never got paid the working deposit and had an email saying there was an issue with the overseas payments. I continued working on the project as I believed what I was told ( yes i know, how stupid of me!!!) The worst thing was that Seth would not even reply to my emails! If anyone is even thinking of pursuing a working relationship with Seth then please please please make sure you have a solid contract in place, make sure you ask for a minimum deposit before you start the work and are ready for any difficulties that might occur when working with Voodoo. If anyone thinks that this is a just a rant of lies from someone trying to discredit Voodoo then they can contact me and I will happily talk to them and will also send them the masses of emails that were sent/received between myself and Voodoo where they acknowledge they have totally screwed me over and you will also see the many promises of payment… and then further emails again promising payment. From this you will be able to see what kind of company they are and I hope no one falls into the pit that I did with this company. This was a major lesson learnt on my part and number one was ” Don’t trust everyone simply because you have integrity and think that everyone else does too”

    To Entrepreneur Magazine – if you truly are an open honest magazine then you will not delete this or hide it as that would put into question why you have a comments box in the first place. Like i said I am happy to talk to whomever regarding my experience and will share the proof.

    Regards

    KJ – kreativejuices@gmail.com

    LONDON, UK

  2. Seth Mbhele

    Nov 14, 2012 at 16:23

    KJ has pointed out one of the biggest hurdles of starting a business: cash flow. Digital Voodoo’s first big client was a government funded and the funding was pulled with no balance of payment (years later we still have not managed to recoup this – another big lesson). We hadn’t made provision for this and as a result we couldn’t initially pay our suppliers – a lesson that we really took to heart, and changed our model as a result of the experience. We also hadn’t worked out all the kinks of making foreign payments. The whole business model was based on being able to work with international talent, and so this was another big lesson to learn – we needed to be able to negotiate the foreign payment hurdles. These early lessons really shaped our start-up and the way we do business today, and I would encourage any entrepreneur looking to start a business to seriously consider these angles – particularly cash flow and what will happen if your client can’t pay you – before launching. It’s painful when you aren’t able to meet your own commitments because you did not plan for every eventuality.

    Seth Mbhele – Digital Voodoo

  3. Mack

    Sep 3, 2013 at 15:32

    Need to trust KJ and agree to his comments, forget what Seth said. I completely agree with KJ as same pertain with us as well. Always false commitments and then blocking on skype, no answers on emails etc.etc. He is definitely not a Entrepreneur.

  4. Mats

    Oct 17, 2013 at 14:04

    BITTER former employee, there are other avenues to address such issues – not public articles, yes that was a rant. If he is not an entrepreneur how has the company survived from 2005 until now? this is just a campaign to discredit a hard working man.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Upstarts

Watch List: 11 Teen Entrepreneurs Who Have Launched Successful Businesses

These teens are proving that you don’t need a driver’s licence – or the ability to vote – to create and execute a successful start-up.

Diana Albertyn

Published

on

Prev1 of 12

teen-entrepreneurs-who-have-launched-successful-businesses

In South Africa youth entrepreneurship is encouraged as the best way to build the economy. Teens are no longer relying on tertiary education to jumpstart their careers, as many high school students become budding entrepreneurs. From make-up to confectionary and tech-centred ventures, youth entrepreneurship is taking the business world by storm.

“It’s easier than ever to become an entrepreneur, and technology has a lot to do with it. You’re a tech-savvy millennial, and Internet and mobile technologies make it easier to connect and identify with people, based on shared values and ideals,” says Michael Freestone, founder of the MJF Group. “All entrepreneurs wonder if their companies will succeed, but you don’t really know until you try. So, do it while you’re young and have little or nothing to lose.”

And that’s exactly what teenagers across the country are doing. While being a teenager is stressful enough, without worrying about marketing and your bottom line – these young entrepreneurs thrive on success, which must be their secret sauce to their winning business ideas.

  1. Rabia Ghoor
  2. Cory Nieves
  3. Nathan Woodrow
  4. Isabella Rose Taylor
  5. Mikaila Ulmer
  6. Moziah Bridges
  7. Tony McPherson
  8. Anthony Veck and Malvin Musanhi
  9. Reabetswe Nkonyane, Phumla Mvila, and Thandokazi Mtshakazana
  10. Omphile Sekwele and Didintle Nkambule
  11. Fisokuhle Lushaba and Wendy Nkosi
Prev1 of 12

Continue Reading

Upstarts

10 Young Entrepreneurs Under 30 Share Their Start-Up Secrets

The future of entrepreneurship has never looked so bright…these young entrepreneurs share their wisdom around building a successful business.

Nicole Crampton

Published

on

ludwick-marishane
Prev1 of 10

Natural Talent Can Become Your Success

Thabo-Khumalo

Thabo Khumalo

Thabo Khumalo – ToVch

“I learnt to design and sew while assisting my mother who was a seamstress, and that is when I realised that I had a talent to create,” Thabo Khumalo explains. “But I never knew I was an entrepreneur.” Thabo Khumalo started his company ToVch in 2010 and has since appeared in South African Fashion Week, Soweto Fashion Week and Mpumalanga Fashion Week.

Khumalo has a small but engaged audience, who he communicates directly with. “The brand has a dedicated audience, and the social media presence also allows me to continuously scan the fashion environment to keep up with external forces.”

The Lesson

One of the most challenging aspects of launching his businesses was marketing the brand with limited funds. He used social media and word-of-mouth to market. “On social media, people share your brand with others simply because they want to,” says Khumalo. “It’s a powerful platform, and it does not cost anything.” Khumalo built up his company using support from a strong online network, which became his marketing strategy.

Read more on How Fashion Start-Up ToVch Built A Brand Presence With Only A Little Budget.

Prev1 of 10

Continue Reading

Upstarts

For Founder Of National Tekkie Tax Day Having A Higher (Business) Purpose Keeps Her Driving Forward

The NGO space isn’t easy. It’s a constant uphill battle to connect scarce resources with the vulnerable. Annelise de Jager has persevered in this space because she’s tapped into her personal purpose and values.

Nadine Todd

Published

on

annelise-de-jager_women-entrepreneurs

Vital Stats

  • Player: Annelise de Jager
  • Initiative: National Tekkie Tax Day
  • Launched: 2013
  • Visit: www.tekkietax.co.za

Use your purpose to drive you forward

Connect your purpose with what you do, and you’ll find untapped reserves of perseverance and the discipline needed to achieve your goals.

Purpose before profit is not a new concept in business. In fact, it underlines the motivations behind some of the most successful entrepreneurs. It’s also not reserved for social enterprises alone.

However, it is in the social entrepreneurship and charitable spaces that living one’s purpose first found a foothold, mostly because without a strong purpose, the work would just be too hard, and many would give up.

Annelise de Jager, founder of National Tekkie Tax Day, unpacks how she’s used living her purpose to drive her forward, even when she’s faced almost insurmountable challenges and disappointments.

Make ‘living a life that matters’ intrinsic to everything you do.

“I was lucky in that I didn’t ever need to sit down and say, ‘I want my life to matter, so I need to do x, y, z’,” says Annelise. “It was intrinsic for me. However, in the past five years I’ve become acutely aware of it, and I’ve seen how important the ability to look beyond oneself is when you’re facing disappointment and challenges.

“It helps you look beyond the now, find a solution and keep pushing on, because there is a bigger goal at stake. The biggest revelation for me has been that anyone can figure this out and use it as a tool to achieve their dreams and purpose — you just need to trigger your intrinsic motivators.

Related: ReWare Did One Crucial Thing That Most Entrepreneurs Are Too Afraid To Do

“Figure out what’s really important to you, and then align this with what you’re doing, in both your business and personal journeys. Robin Bank’s Mind Power and Shaping your Destiny courses are a great place to start.”

Don’t be afraid to ask what’s next

Critical to Annelise’s journey has been the realisation that when goals are met, we need to ask ourselves: What’s next? “Too many people achieve their goals and then feel adrift. You should meet your goals. Your ultimate vision should change. That’s growth, and it’s critical if you want to keep moving forward.

“Our experiences inform our knowledge base and world views, and so as you live and run your business, that view should be changing, bringing with it new challenges and perceptions. Don’t be scared of it; embrace it.”

Annelise went to Potchefstroom University to study social work where she joined the university’s musical revue group, the Alabama Student Company. “Alabama was given the opportunity to tour Taiwan, but I was about to graduate. Travel is high on my personal values list, so I started a second degree in communications to stay in university — and — in Alabama.”

New experiences can be the source of great ideas and strength

Studying communications opened Annelise to a new discipline that she loved. “Marketing and communications are so filled with energy — an energy social work didn’t possess. I loved both, and I wanted to find a way to meld them together. This would ultimately shape my business, The Marketing Team, after I’d been a social worker for a few years. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans based on new experiences; they can be the source of our greatest ideas and strengths.”

Related: Reel Gardening Warns That Innovation Is Never Easy

No experience is ever wasted

“We spend too much time trying to plan exactly what we should be doing, where and when, instead of following our hearts and instincts,” says Annelise. “No experience is ever wasted. Once I discovered my love for communications, I questioned whether I’d wasted four years studying social work. I hadn’t.

“Both disciplines became the bedrock of how I would assist the charitable space in South Africa. Experiences open our eyes, our hearts, and our understanding. They give us empathy and patience. They allow us to view things from other perspectives. If you want to really make a difference in other peoples’ lives, these traits are invaluable.”

Be open to finding answers in unexpected places

“By 2004 I felt rudderless,” says Annelise. “I’d been running my own business, handling communications and marketing for NGOs, developing campaigns and even assisting NGOs to run more as businesses than under-funded organisations, but it didn’t feel like I was doing enough.

“Part of the problem was that you can only give people the tools to work with, you can’t make them use them. Another problem was under-funding. Corporates spend billions each year on CSI projects but they don’t like to fund salaries and basic operational expenses.

“It’s frustrating because volunteers can’t do what needs to be done — most households need two breadwinners, which limits the availability of volunteers to assist.

“I was looking for a way to add more value. Should I start my own NGO? Where could I make the biggest impact? I’d been offered an excellent coaching position, which would allow me to walk away from the problems this sector deals with daily. It was tempting, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

“At that time I attended the Global Day of Prayer in Argentina on behalf of a client. It was at that conference that I had an almost supernatural experience. I left knowing exactly what my purpose was.

“How these realisations come to you is less important than the fact that you’re open to them. Deep down I knew what I wanted and needed — I just needed the courage and fortitude to follow my path. My experience in Argentina gave that to me because I allowed it to.”

Always find the strength to persevere.

Nothing worth doing is ever easy. In the NGO space, this is particularly true. “I developed the idea for National Tekkie Tax Day because NGOs constantly asked me to help them develop funding campaigns. I developed this fundraising model when I launched Casual Day and ran the project successfully for 18 years.

“But I also believe the NGO space can benefit from a more unified mindset to overcome donor confusion and fatigue. This is my new focus, but it’s difficult to get organisations to shift their mindsets. National Tekkie Tax Day is a step in this direction.

“It encompasses 12 national NGOs and 1 000 regional organisations across five categories — but there’s one product and one national marketing drive. Donors can choose a category to support.

Related: How Fintech Zoona Is Solving Customers’ Real Problems

“I’ve needed to persevere to help NGOs see the benefits in working collaboratively, and corporates to see the benefits of supporting the operational costs of NGOs.

“I don’t have a high profile job at a top company. People don’t call you back in my world. And yet you need to keep pushing forward against incredible headwinds.

“I wake up each morning and repeat the mantra that my success helps everybody; my failure helps nobody. There won’t always be easy wins, but with the right purpose you can persevere. You can make a difference.”

Support National Tekkie Tax Day on 26 May 2017

12 national charities | 1 000 local charities | 5 sectors to support

Animals, Bring Hope, Children, Disability, Education

Available at Toys R Us, Clicks and Babies R Us or online at www.tekkietax.co.za

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending