A help­ing hand for start-ups

You can have pas­sion and you can work hard, but some­times a new busi­ness ven­ture needs a shot in the arm from an in­vestor. found hers

CityPress - - Busi­ness -

Your pas­sion, hard work, en­thu­si­asm and great ideas – while ab­so­lutely vi­tal – will only take you so far. Even­tu­ally, you will need help and money to keep the wheels of your busi­ness run­ning, and make sure you are fed and clothed.

Many start-ups don’t make it out of first gear be­cause, sooner or later, they run out of cash. While you’re scur­ry­ing around the coun­try, charm­ing clients with your elab­o­rate pitches and plans that will make them look good, you are churn­ing out the money – but some­times the money isn’t com­ing in as fast as you’d like, de­spite your timeous in­voices and ha­rangu­ing col­lec­tion phone calls made with in­creas­ing fre­quency.

Start-up fund­ing is al­ways hard to come by. Most banks won’t even look your way, de­spite what their nu­mer­ous ad­ver­tise­ments claim. Another op­tion is fund­ing pro­vided by state bod­ies like the de­part­ment of trade and in­dus­try, and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

Some­times ac­cess to this money and the te­dious pa­per­work needed to get it can drive you to drink. Wine from a tum­bler through a straw, in fact.

MEC for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Gaut­eng Lebo Maile re­cently an­nounced that his fund for start-ups had dried up (such is the up­take of this). So what to do when you have an idea but need money to make it work – or at least get off the ground?

If you’re lucky, like we have been, you find an an­gel in­vestor. This hap­pened within the first few heady days of our start-up – when we worked 18-hour days and courted any­one who dared to lis­ten to our story.

I’d been mod­er­at­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at the same event as top busi­ness­man Jabu Mabuza. Dur­ing the tea break, he made the mis­take of ask­ing what I was do­ing be­cause he hadn’t seen me on telly in ages. By now, I was well re­hearsed and en­thu­si­as­tic when rolling out the com­pany’s pitch. I waxed lyri­cal and whipped out my busi­ness card to show that, well, I meant busi­ness.

He was suf­fi­ciently im­pressed/ over­whelmed/in­trigued and sug­gested we meet.

Now, if you are merely be­ing po­lite and don’t mean these words, don’t ever ut­ter them to me be­cause I will take you at your word. I will hound you un­til we meet. But there was no need for this when it came to Mabuza; he promptly ar­ranged a time to meet.

He is an easy-go­ing, pleas­ant and straight­for­ward man.

When we sched­uled the meet­ing with Mabuza, it wasn’t our vaguest in­ten­tion to get money from him. At that stage, we sim­ply wanted to meet as many in­flu­en­tial peo­ple as pos­si­ble to spread our gospel and see where or how we might strike ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ships or, if we were re­ally lucky, bag a client.

As I drove to the meet­ing, I was ner­vous and pet­ri­fied, but reeled off my lines as Char­lotte and I had re­hearsed. “We, as Amargi Me­dia, want to tell African sto­ries…”

TaJabs – as we would later call him – lis­tened care­fully and pa­tiently as I rat­tled off our vi­sion ner­vously, ea­gerly list­ing the clients we’d bagged in our short ex­is­tence and what we hoped to achieve.

After a dread­fully long si­lence, he re­sponded by re­lat­ing his own story about his early be­gin­nings in busi­ness and how, when he was floun­der­ing once, leg­endary busi­ness­man Meyer Kahn came to his aid and kept him afloat.

He said he would never for­get the kind­ness shown to him be­cause that ges­ture changed his for­tunes, and he be­lieved strongly in pay­ing this for­ward.

TaJabs went on to say he be­lieved that en­trepreneurs would be the ones to grow the econ­omy and they de­served all the sup­port they could get, es­pe­cially from those who had suc­ceeded – in what­ever form that took.

I wept when I left that meet­ing, be­cause I left there with so much more than I had imag­ined or hoped for. In TaJabs, Amargi Me­dia found an in­vestor, a part­ner and a men­tor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.