I be­live i can fly

we put five busi­ness ideas to the test

Finweek English Edition - - Front page - COLLEEN NAUDÉ

WEIRD, WACKY and won­der­ful are words that spring to mind when you hear the ideas that en­trepreneurs have come up with.

A search on the equally won­der­ful world­wide web un­cov­ers de­scrip­tions of hun­dreds of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties that peo­ple have spot­ted. Some are very un­usual and oth­ers are al­most an­noy­ingly ob­vi­ous – the kind of things that make you want to kick your­self for not hav­ing thought of them first.

Like the founder of the com­pany Clear, who saw an op­por­tu­nity in the in­creased se­cu­rity at air­ports. The Clear sys­tem helps you move more quickly through se­cu­rity check­points. Even if it means hav­ing your irises and fin­ger­prints scanned to qual­ify as a reg­is­tered Clear pas­sen­ger – which proves you aren’t a ter­ror­ist – 35 000 peo­ple have, ac­cord­ing to the trend­hunter.com web­site, al­ready opted for this in­va­sion of their pri­vacy rather than en­dure the frus­tra­tion of end­less queues.

Many en­trepreneurs come up with ideas be­cause they no­tice a trend – and then do some­thing about it. Dr Behrokh Khosh­neivis took the use of ro­bots a step fur­ther. He and a team at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia are about to un­veil a ro­bot that can build a house with­out any hu­man as­sis­tance. The ro­bot builder will cost about US$1,5m (R10m) and will have very few ar­chi­tec­tural re­stric­tions. Gyp­sum and con­crete will be sprayed in lay­ers to form the walls, floor and roof. The first pro­to­type, a dou­ble-storey house that can be erected in 24 hours, will be built in Cal­i­for­nia in April. The in­ven­tion could in­crease pro­duc­tion 200-fold and re­duce house-build­ing costs – and pre­sum­ably the frus­tra­tion of in­volv­ing a builder – by a fifth.

Lo­cally, in­ven­tive en­trepreneurs are con­stantly con­vert­ing bright ideas into busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. Many of them do so de­spite prob­lems like cop­ing with fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that are gen­er­ally very averse to fi­nanc­ing new busi­nesses, and other chal­lenges, such as re­stric­tive labour leg­is­la­tion and bu­reau­cratic red tape.

Fac­tors that ham­per en­trepreneur­ship i n SA a r e out­lined year af­ter year in the Global En­trepreneur­ship Mon­i­tor (GEM), which is co-or­di­nated in SA by the Univer­sity of Cape Town’s Grad­u­ate School of Busi­ness. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see what the latest GEM re­port, which was is­sued at the end of last week af­ter we had gone to print, shows and how SA com­pares with other coun­tries in the field of en­trepreneur­ship.

Even though – ac­cord­ing to the Her­itage Foun­da­tion’s in­dex of eco­nomic free­dom, which was is­sued at the end of Jan­uary – it takes 35 days on av­er­age to es­tab­lish a com­pany in SA, com­pared with the world av­er­age of 48 days, the foun­da­tion says to pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship and job cre­ation op­ti­mally, the process should be sim­pli­fied.

Nev­er­the­less, SA has pro­duced world-class en­trepreneurs, such as Im­pe­rial’s Bill Lynch, who knocked out ri­vals from all cor­ners of the globe two years ago in Ernst & Young’s World En­tre­pre­neur com­pe­ti­tion, which is run lo­cally in con­junc­tion with Rand Mer­chant Bank. The com­pe­ti­tion is one of many – Busi­ness Part­ners’ En­tre­pre­neur of the Year is an­other – that re­wards and en­cour­ages en­trepreneur­ship.

The par­tic­i­pants in com­pe­ti­tions are only a few in­di­vid­ual cases that land up in the spot­light. Hun­dreds of oth­ers cre­ate some­thing from a mere idea, such as the five en­trepreneurs who tell the story, on the fol­low­ing pages, of how their busi­nesses, all still in

their in­fancy, be­came a re­al­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.