The e-commerce industry in South Africa has experienced a boom since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — and Black Friday was no exception….
Local entrepreneur Vincent Manzini believes the mentorship he received from a leading local tech business owner was key to his first successful business, a sound hire company, which went on to generate R1-million in revenue.
Manzini (pictured above, right), founder of Blank Kanvas and Ikapa Live, believes partnering with experienced IT entrepreneur, Silulo Ulutho Technologies founder Luvuyo Rani proved crucial to the success of a previous business of his — Jump Start Entertainment, a business the two founded together.
“He had walked the path, he gave me a lot of mentorship, a lot of guidance and just extracting from his failures and avoiding certain things and looking at his successes, it kind of paved the way,” said Manzini, speaking on the sidelines of a talk he gave last night (22 January 2018) at Startup Grind Cape Town at Workshop 17 in Cape Town.
While the two subsequently shut the business in 2013, Manzini said mentorship proved “a pivotal element” to making it a success at the time.
Manzini’s first startup went on to fail, but the second succeeded, the difference? Mentorship
Before starting the company, Manzini also a DJ, had tried his hand at entrepreneurship the year before — and failed. He said his first enterprise in 2006, Grand Mind Entertainment, with fellow DJ Akhona Ngoqo “was never successful”.
He believes the startup, which he left his corporate job with cellphone giant Vodacom to found, had failed — mostly because the founders had no business acumen, structure and mentorship.
“We were wet behind the ears, always assumed, had no structure and had no mentors,” he said.
After this the founders went back to their respective DJ careers. However, he said this first enterprise taught him about relationships and business deals.
Here are some lessons that Manzini — who is also the winner of the Raymond Ackerman Academy’s best business plan award in 2015 — has to share.
Do your research
Manzini says entrepreneurs should familiarise yourselves with spaces and industries they want to dabble in. “Research, Understand the landscape,” he adds.
The award-winning entrepreneur believes it is important to connect with as many people in your industry as is possible. “You will get precious insights. Most of our insights and business decisions are derived from interaction and information. Be informed.”
Ask the right questions, never assume
He attributes his past business failures to leaning too much on assumptions, adding that he “never really interrogated things or took time out to understand the process behind certain decisions”. “It’s one thing interacting in these spaces, such as Startup Grind, but its another thing asking the people the right questions. You can ask a lot of questions, but every question you ask, ask with the view of finding information which will best impact your practice,” he advises.
Importance of sales skills
Manzini believes the ability to sell is a crucial skill every entrepreneur needs to grow a business. “It’s important in any space, and in any business,” he says. “So many great innovations never took off, not because they are not great but because their drivers were not the right drivers. They got rejected and gave up,” he adds, and he points out that behind any rejection usually lies a lesson.
Featured image: StartupGrindCPT via Twitter