Entrepreneurship

usb lions den winners

When an innovative business idea comes to life

USB News

When an innovative business idea comes to life

usb lions den winners

  • November 04
  • Tags Our news, Entrepreneur, USB Lion’s Den

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2019 Lion’s Den winners share their experience

Gerrit de Villiers and Gerhard Landman, both MBA alumni of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), were the winners of last year’s USB Lion’s Den competition with their RoomCheck business idea, which was a favourite amongst the impressive panel of investors.

Gerhard, who owns a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) in Bloemfontein, Free State, experienced challenges first-hand in running a B&B remotely and that is how the idea for RoomCheck started. With their idea, they aim to solve a relevant challenge in the hospitality industry where the owner or manager needs to know how many guests occupied a room versus what was paid for.

“The idea is a device that provides the user with information on exactly how many individuals slept in a bed via a privacy-preserving device that is easily installed. This way our customers are empowered to take action based on the information provided in the way that they choose, whether this be charging the customer for an additional guest or confronting the manager,” Gerrit explains.

They decided to enter Lion’s Den because they needed help to get the idea off the ground. “We believed USB could offer the right connections, having studied there and knowing the competition will present us with the opportunity to engage with possible investors.”

USB started Lion’s Den two years ago to encourage and support entrepreneurs and job creation in South Africa, supporting the thinking that business has an increasing role in changing society.

They say it was an “incredible experience that not only changed the business but also our mind-set around entrepreneurship”. “You often fall in love with your solution and the whole experience cemented the importance of rather falling in love with the problem and building your solution around it. It gave us the confidence in the idea to pursue it further,” he says.

They won a R50 000 cash prize and say financially it provided them with the boost they needed. Furthermore, they also won a mentorship programme from investment holding company Stocks & Strauss (which will resume after the Covid-19 pandemic).

Their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to enter this year’s Lion’s Den is to focus on the opportunity to build relationships. “I would encourage anyone with a business idea to participate because it is not only a great opportunity to get the attention of investors or soundboard your idea (against some of the best in the industry), but it’s got more to do with the like-minded individuals that you get to meet. Your next business might just be in partnership with the entrepreneur you meet at Lion’s Den!”

*If you want to witness promising entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of seasoned investors, join us at the online 2020 Lion’s Den, in association with Centuro GlobalStellenbosch University LaunchLab and O’Reilly Law, on Wednesday, 18 November at 14:00. Book here

** The business idea that conquers all and emerges victorious from the den this year, will take home R50 000, plus a share of over R220 000 worth of prizes – including entry into the Virtual International Study Module on Entrepreneurship, run by the ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. There is also a healthy second prize of R30 000 courtesy of SU LaunchLab and services from Centuro Global and O’Reilley Law.

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Rushana Hartnick - Mitchells Plain’s Global USB Ambassador

USB News

Rushana Hartnick – Mitchells Plain’s Global USB Ambassador

  • FEB 18
  • Tags 2020 Academic Opening, USB Alumni, International Education, Entrepreneurship

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Speaking at the 2020 USB Academic Opening in February, MBA alumnus Rushana Hartnick shared her first introduction to internationalisation, the key theme of USB’s ongoing commitment to being a global partner.

When Rushana Hartnick, social entrepreneur and alumnus of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), started The Little Mermaid Swim School in 2012, she had a vision: to offer water safety and swimming to children in the Mitchells Plain area where not many home owners have swimming pools. In 2014, she catapulted her academic and business career as a participant in the USB Small Business Academy (SBA). Today, she is the holder of a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration (PGDip BMA), and recently became a Full-time MBA graduate from the business school. She reflects on her international experience gained from her journey.y

“When I arrived for the first day of my PGDip BMA, I was introduced to 11 exchange students, and I remember looking at them thinking that I don’t belong here. However, their sense of curiosity was contagious. I realised then that a highlight for me would be when I set foot off the continent to unlock my full potential.”

She was elected to join the EMBA Consortium for Global Business Innovation, a collaboration between 11 business schools, in Turkey, where she was joined by 11 nationalities to discuss pertinent issues facing each country.

“It was mind-blowing! Sharing impactful conversations with so many different nationalities, and there I was with a seat at the table. It led me to question my role in the society where I live and what I am doing to ensure that my country becomes one that everyone around the globe wants to visit or do business with.

“I was afforded another opportunity by USB to be part of the Digital Strategy and New Business Models elective in Brazil, where I discussed social issues with executives from around the world and creating business models in addressing these issues. This has started another journey for me – one that I can now make a reality back home, in Mitchells Plain.

“I want to thank USB, especially the support staff, for believing in me and giving me so many opportunities and exposure to broaden my mind and horizon for the good of my local community. When USB speaks internationalisation, it comes from the bottom all the way to the top. And I am not only an ambassador of Mitchell’s Plain but an ambassador of USB.”

Since its inception, The Little Mermaid Swim School, has grown from servicing 35 children to teaching swimming to 500 kids per week whilst also providing an aftercare facility.

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USB Lions Den

Entrepreneurs sweat it out in the lion’s den

USB News

Entrepreneurs sweat it out in the lion’s den

USB Lions Den

  • Dec 05
  • Tags Entrepreneurship; Entrepreneurs; Mentorship; Coaching; Start-up

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Innovative entrepreneurs Gerrit de Villiers and Gerhard Landman, clinched the Lion’s share as the overall winners at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) Lion’s Den event on 20 November.

In a gruelling pitching process where seven short-listed USB entrepreneurs pitched their business idea to a panel of venture capitalists in the hope of securing investment finance, Gerrit and Gerhard’s RoomCheck business idea was a unanimous favourite amongst the impressive panel of investors.

Facilitated by Venturepreneur and USB alumnus, D’Neil Strauss and his wife, former Miss World and current USB student, Rolene Strauss, the Lion’s Den panel included Zolani Madikazi (Venture Capitalist at Knife Capital), Wayne Stocks (Director and co-founder at Stocks & Strauss), Kate Turner-Smith (Investment Manager at Savant Technology Incubator), Shukri Toefy (CEO and co-founder at Fort), Anita Nel (CEO at Innovus of the Stellenbosch University) and Johan Bosini (Partner at Quona Capital).

Serial entrepreneur and CEO of FinFind, Darlene Menzies, started the afternoon with a powerful message to all: “Don’t believe you can’t be an entrepreneur. Anyone who is answering to a need already has a market and that is why you will make it.”

The owner of many successful and not so successful businesses, Darlene said that “failure is the cornerstone of success. I don’t think you can have success without it

Don’t believe you can’t be an entrepreneur. Anyone who is answering to a need already has a market and that is why you will make it.

We want to inspire for innovation and growth. For aspiring entrepreneurs and growing companies it is essential to uncover new ideas and create meaningful connections to drive sustainable business growth” added Crijns.”

Apart from meetings with Cape-based entrepreneurs, and company visits, some of the USB lectures include Building resilient states in a transforming world: Economics in emerging countries – RSA as a case study, by Prof Andre Roux, head of Futures Studies programmes,  Building sustainable societies in a complex world – dimensions of African futures, by Dr Morné Mostert, director of the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), and Digital innovation in Africa, by Martin Butler, head of MBA programmes.

“It is mainly the commitment of all the participants, organisers, hosts and speakers that makes this edition a memorable and successful venture,” said Crijns. “I thank all the people and organisations that will make this venture a success. The Belgian Embassy, headed by Ambassador Vanderhasselt, was very cooperative in organising opportunities for networking.

“In particular I thank the University of Stellenbosch Business School, represented by Prof Piet Naudé and the USB International Affairs team Nyambura Mwagiru, Sheena Maneveld, and Samantha Walbrugh-Parsadh, who are in fact the driving forces in organising this tour. Their aim is to make our professional, academic or personal endeavours memorable and actionable.

The owner of many successful and not so successful businesses, Darlene said that “failure is the cornerstone of success. I don’t think you can have success without it. Learn from your mistakes and talk about it. Failure is part of the recipe of success – not the opposite of success. The opposite of success is apathy, not trying or staying in corporate when you want to be an entrepreneur. My biggest lessons and failures actually became my biggest opportunities.”

The seven short listed entrepreneurs pitched their product or service and had to find innovative ways to convince the panel that their business idea was viable, potentially very profitable and unique in answering a need in society in return for funding and direction.

The scoring of each participant was done via a quantitative process verified by an independent registered chartered accountants and a qualitative process whereby the panel deliberated on each entrepreneur.

Learn from your mistakes and talk about it. Failure is part of the recipe of success – not the opposite of success. The opposite of success is apathy, not trying or staying in corporate when you want to be an entrepreneur. My biggest lessons and failures actually became my biggest opportunities.

The participants where:

  • chat – Gerard Smith and Dr Tanya Wantenaar
  • Imvomvo Powerhouse – Sisanda Mqwebedu
  • Lexa – Ben Groot, Kornelis Miske, Albert van Zyl and Michelle Saaiman
  • Linchpin – Nicolas Lamohr, Nicky Lamohr and Chezre Fredericks
  • RoomCheck – Gerrit de Villiers and Gerhard Landman
  • Servio – Sias Fouche, Metin Akgerman and Ropetra von Nelson
  • Wood Flavour Innovations – Dirk van den Berg

Johan Bosini closed the afternoon off with some invaluable lessons that are not only take-home advice for those who pitched but for any entrepreneur:

  • You won’t get it right the first time. With each new pitch you will improve
  • Remember that the investor doesn’t know your business as well as you do nor sacrificed the many hours you have put in so far in getting to the point of pitching for finance
  • Don’t ask for too little. It always takes longer and costs more than you think
  • Be more specific of the type of money you need. Don’t just say R3 million rather that you for example, need capital from a venture investor with global experience that understands technology.
  • Understand the kind of finance you need, the kind of investment available and what the investor’s capabilities as well as their expectations are. It’s a long-term investment – be careful who you let in.
  • Not every business is a venture backed business. There are other ways of funding your business.
  • Many will fail. If one looks at the venture echo system in SA it’s still young and there hasn’t been enough success yet if you compare it to more mature markets abroad. However, those who fail, return and feed the entrepreneurial mindset in South Africa.

USB started the Lion’s Den a year ago to encourage and support entrepreneurs and job creation in South Africa, supporting the thinking that business has an increasing role in changing society. And with this in mind the prizes did not only include investment in terms of money but also skills and mentorship. It is with enormous gratitude that USB thanks the partners involved in accelerating the vision of entrepreneurship with the following generous prizes to the participants:

 

  • Overall winner, RoomCheck received a 3-month mentorship programme from Stocks& Strauss and R50 000 from USB
  • O’Reilly Law offered Imvomvo Powerhouse a legal advisory programme to the value of R32 000, and has made X2 legal essentials packages available for which the recipients will be determined.
  • Start-up service packages from House of Growth to the value of R42 000 went to Servio, Lexa, Do.Chat, Imvomvo and Wood Flavoured Innovations.
  • House of Growth also offered a strategy and finance package to the value of R96 000 to Linchpin, Do.Chat and Imvomvo Powerhouse
  • LaunchLab sponsored access to start-up resources to Imvomvo Powerhouse, Servio and Wood Flavoured Innovations
  • PPS offered executive financial consultation to Do.Chat, Wood Flavoured Innovations and Lexa
  • PPS also gave specialised coaching sessions to Wood Flavoured Innovations, Servio and Imvomvo Powerhouse

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Belgian entrepreneurs gain insight at USB

Belgian entrepreneurs gain insight at USB

USB News

Belgian entrepreneurs gain insight at USB

Belgian entrepreneurs gain insight at USB

  • Nov 26
  • Tags iGMO, Vlerick Business School, entrepreneurs

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Vlerick Business School’s Impulse Centre Growth Management for Medium Size Enterprises (iGMO) in Belgium was recently on an economic mission through South Africa. Dubbed an ‘International Inspiration Tour’ with a group of 40 entrepreneurs visiting the Western Cape between 10 and 16 November, the initiative hopes to further strengthen Belgian-South African business relations.

The University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), the top business school in South Africa for entrepreneurs, was host to 40 Belgian entrepreneurs through its strong ties to Vlerick – the oldest business and management school in Europe. The tour included a number of lectures, company visits and cultural sightseeing activities in order to gain first-hand understanding of the business culture in the area.

As a knowledge centre, the school’s Impulse Centre Growth Management for Medium Size Enterprises (iGMO), has 187 active owner-managed members with a total turnover of about 30 billion euro (500 billion ZAR) with 400 000 FTE employment. The average growth rate is more than 10 % per year.

Belgium is one of South Africa’s top 15 trade partners, as well as an important source of inbound tourism. Professor Hans Crijns, director of iGMO and partner and professor at Vlerick Business School says “with the strong links between the business schools, a trip to South Africa is timely.”

“The programme consisted of a variety of activities. Practitioners as well as academics were our guest speakers and hosts. We strongly believe that knowledge can be multiplied if it is shared.

With this tour I believe we answer our mission in order to acquire shared knowledge on how entrepreneurial companies expand and survive in a ‘raplex’ (rapid and complex) environment.

We want to inspire for innovation and growth. For aspiring entrepreneurs and growing companies it is essential to uncover new ideas and create meaningful connections to drive sustainable business growth” added Crijns.”

Apart from meetings with Cape-based entrepreneurs, and company visits, some of the USB lectures included Building resilient states in a transforming world: Economics in emerging countries – RSA as a case study, by Prof Andre Roux, head of Futures Studies programmes,  Building sustainable societies in a complex world – dimensions of African futures, by Dr Morné Mostert, director of the Institute for Futures Research (IFR), and Digital innovation in Africa, by Martin Butler, head of MBA programmes.

“It is mainly the commitment of all the participants, organisers, hosts and speakers that made this edition a memorable and successful venture,” said Crijns. “I thank all the people and organisations that made this venture a success. The Belgian Embassy, headed by Ambassador Vanderhasselt, was very cooperative in organising opportunities for networking.

“In particular I thank the University of Stellenbosch Business School, represented by Prof Piet Naudé and the USB International Affairs team Nyambura Mwagiru, Sheena Maneveld, and Samantha Walbrugh-Parsadh, who were in fact the driving forces in organising this tour. Their aim is to make our professional, academic or personal endeavours memorable and actionable.

USB is perfectly aligned with our own iGMO mission. We are connecting with the brightest minds and exploring unique settings – the events took place at original and surprising venues.

In our group we have various Belgian companies that conduct business in South Africa. It goes without saying that visiting some of these companies was a learning experience. This journey provided insights and fueled motivation for innovative thinking.”


For more information on becoming an international student at USB visit the International Student webpage.

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