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The founders of SA startup Entry Ninja may have sold their business for millions of rands to Computicket two years ago, but only after starting over again after a former partner hijacked a previous company from the founders.
The sports timing and events booking startup was acquired in 2017 by Computicket for an undisclosed sum.
Entry Ninja, which was registered in 2015, has its roots in a timing company started in 2011 when Frans Jooste’s cousin — co-founder Francois Jooste — and his father were organising local sports events and battled to find a good company to handle the timing.
We literally couldn’t do our duties as he locked us out and then sued us over it, says Entry Ninja co-founder
It’s then that they approached Frans Jooste, who was studying software development at the University of Pretoria at the time. He was joined by then fellow students Phillip Buys, 28 and Jaco van der Berg, 27.
In 2014 the four joined up with the founder of a local GPS timing company called Jumpertrax. “We merged into his company,” he told Ventureburn.
‘The guy was bad news’
The sports event timing company’s website mentions that the company was founded in 2012. It’s unclear who founded the business.
But, says Jooste, the guy was “bad news”.
“In one night, he changed the bank details, changed the server details, changed all authoritative contact details for all our service providers, and hit us with a court case the next morning: ‘not performing and doing our duties’ or some crap like that. We literally couldn’t do our duties as he locked us out and then sued us over it.
Jooste says the four took him to court and won their court case in 2016, but that he still owes the four the money that he had moved out of the business’s account at the time he seized the company.
“Part of the judgement is that he pay the money back,” he said, without revealing how much the amount owed is.
He says the guy has since sold Jumpertrax to new owners.
“Long story short, we said we could do it better than him as we built the original system, so we started over again, and within one month of losing our business, we already had a new product and our first new client. Today he isn’t in this business anymore as he lost all his clients and we sold to Computicket.
“When we split from the previous breakup, we picked up a new team member (George Boot — Ed) that was part of the other guys’ business, and he was a good addition to our team.
“So Entry Ninja was started with five members, four from the timing and one new member that came from the other business as an employee but we made him a shareholder in the new company as he was very valuable to us.
Currently four of the original five including Jooste, are still working in Entry Ninja.