COINING IT WITH BITCOIN
The Bitcoin crypto currency is proving to be increasingly popular, but there are a lot of people who remain reluctant to use it.
However, Mpho Dagada (23) is one of the few youngsters who has made a small fortune through trading the digital currency and he has gone on to do well for himself with the capital raised from it.
While studying at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the entrepreneurship bug bit and he hopped from one venture to another until he found himself dabbling in stokvels. That was when an elderly woman asked him to invest some cash for her in Bitcoin, the crypto currency.
“I heard about Bitcoin from the lady, who asked me to buy it for her and, after I bought it, it jumped overnight from 200 US dollars to 1 000 US dollars a Bitcoin,” he said.
This week the value of a Bitcoin reached a record high of about $3 500.
He later found out that the reason for the major jump was because of increased demand due to more people having found out about the alternative currency.
The woman who had asked him to invest her funds in Bitcoin gave him half of the profit made.
It was at that moment that he was attracted to selling Bitcoins, he found himself sucked into the business and it became a rewarding venture and one that soon turned over a million rand for him, he said.
Dagada is still involved in Bitcoin, but is now investing instead of trading and is even looking at teaching others about the currency.
“I am now going to be hosting seminars and teaching others how to invest in crypto currencies. I have made over $100 000. I’m going to offer online and one-on-one classes.”
Dagada is by no means from a poor family; in fact, his background is far from the rags to riches narrative of most of his peers.
Born and bred in Makhado in Limpopo, he was privileged enough to go to very good schools, including one of the most expensive in that province, before heading south to enrol for a corporate communications degree at UJ.
Dagada said that, while growing up, he always wanted to be a professor, but the idea soon became stale and his aspirations switched to business instead.
He has his own company, NDA Logistics, which has its own 15-vehicle fleet, as well as Foodz Holdings, a company focusing on restaurants. Each enterprise employs 20 people. He also owns a fish and chips franchise.
“So it’s been a journey of mistakes, learning and growing; mistakes, learning and growing.”
The businesses grew so fast that he dropped out of university and, although he was only left with less than a year’s worth of courses there, he doesn’t have plans of ever graduating.
“What I’ve realised is that even if I graduate, I won’t have any use for the degree because I am not looking for anybody’s job,” he said.
Another turning point in his life was when he got an opportunity to go to the US as a result of a business innovation competition, and through it he was exposed to the Silicon Valley companies.
He participated in the TrepCamp programme, which took place at Stanford University in Silicon Valley in the US, and that was how he came to visit and learn from companies like Google, Facebook, Salesforce and many others.
He was part of a group of people who presented their ideas to Silicon Valley investors and was given an award for making it to the top five.
The group, including a participant from Cape Town, another from Panama City and one from Mexico, may have to pilot their business idea, which is related to the medical technology sector, in Mexico because their case study was set in that country.
Though he wholly owns all his businesses, Dagada said that one of the most important lessons he learnt was the importance of partnering.
“My long-term vision is to grow the business. I crave to expand into the international market,” he said, pointing out that he aimed to start global enterprises that create jobs.
Dagada said one of the biggest challenges he faced was the lack of mentoring, since he was venturing into virtually new territory and did not know anyone in the industries in which he traded.
“I don’t quite believe that funding is as important as the idea. If you have an idea, funding will arrive,” he said, adding that his story is not of receiving money from his parent, but having a breakthrough in Bitcoin with nothing more than time and willingness to research the idea well.
One of the closest things to his heart is motivational speaking, which he says is a calling rather than a business. “At the heart of what I do, that is what I love,” he said of his passion for motivation.