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Coming soon: A homegrown tech entrepreneurship guide

All rising economies need a helping hand to achieve greatness. Economies that wish to thrive in today’s fast-paced world of changing commerce and enterprising initiative need enterprising people. Entrepreneurship is a crucial part of any society on the rise, especially where technological infrastructure is lacking.

The Entrepreneurship Guide website will go live on 12 May, in conjunction with the project
launch at the Net Prophet conference in Cape Town.

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The South African entrepreneurial landscape is fast becoming a busy one. A sizeable number of South African entrepreneurs have graced the international stage with their ideas and flourishing success stories, though many are not well known.

It’s a great thing to be a successful entrepreneur but very few people understand the hard work it takes to reach the corner offices, know how to deal with the hardships that starting a business can bring, or have access to an expert source of local knowledge and experience.

Financial services multinational Old Mutual has undertaken a project to meet this need, which will help the budding entrepreneurs of tomorrow to put their ideas into practice. The ‘Do Great Things’ Entrepreneurs’ Guide is an accumulation of knowledge from 38 of some of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs from 30 companies.

“The initiative is based on our philosophy that knowledge and experience equates to wisdom, and that wisdom shared and practically put to use, inspires others to do great things,” says Jack Kruger, the project’s creator. “We approached successful, local entrepreneurs with the proposition that they, in turn, share their wisdom to motivate and assist others to start up and grow their businesses,” he says.

“The project is for people with ideas who want to find a way to make them happen. Here we have some our country’s best giving away knowledge they have learned over the years for free. You can’t get that anywhere else. This is valuable information,” says Kruger.

The idea for ‘Do Great Things’ was born in a 15-minute coffee break at Johannesburg tech conference Tech4Africa where Kruger, Head of Digital at Old Mutual, approached Cognician co-founder Patrick Kayton with the idea.

“Jack [Kruger] said to me that he was looking for ways to activate the Do Great Things philosophy. He had this idea for creating a start-up guide and he asked me if this was something we could collaborate on. And after 15-minutes of standing in the middle of a crowd of people buzzing around us with coffee in their hands, we had conceptualised the entire project. Two weeks later, we started the real work and we’ve been building the Entrepreneur’s Guide ever since,” says Kayton.

Putting together the project required a series of direct interviews with selected entrepreneurs in the tech sector and months of information gathering across South Africa.

The accumulated material has been edited into respective categories and sub-categories covering some 170 individual start-up topics. The end result is the Entrepreneurs’ Guide website where users can access all the video material and related transcriptions, as well as comment on and add contributions.

The major concepts have also been packaged into a series of Cognician “cogs”. Cognician is an app that helps you think by asking you questions that guide you through problems in a structured way, so by working through the One-page Business Plan cog, for example, you actually create a brief business plan.

The website content has been released under creative commons licensing and users are able to view and share all information freely. To comment, vote on, follow, or make a contribution requires a simple membership sign-up process.

“Entrepreneurship is crucial to the future of the country for job creation. The purpose of the Entrepreneur’s Guide is to support entrepreneurs on the treacherously difficult road to starting your own business. Having access to this material is like having 38 entrepreneur as your own personal mentors,” says Kayton.

Jack Kruger credits the teams involved in the project, saying” The initiative was originated and funded by Old Mutual Digital – and co-produced in close partnership with Cognician, Another Love Productions, Electric Storm, Image Incubator, and Creativo. The project forms part of Old Mutual’s ongoing commitment to fostering economic growth and job creation.”

The project will be launched at this year’s Net Prophet tech conference in Cape Town on the 12 May 2011.

Knowledge and experience equates to wisdom, and wisdom shared inspires others to do great things. The Old Mutual Entrepreneurs’ Guide for startups gives you the accumulated wisdom of Africa’s leading Entrepreneurs who have generously shared their hard-won knowledge and experience.

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