Interview: Discussing key factors to create a successful start-up in South Africa

start up

Cape Town, the Mother City, is fast positioning itself as Africa’s start-up hub. Local start-up getTOD’s founders are all born and bred Capetonians and they attribute much of their success to the city and the fact that it breeds entrepreneurs from a young age.

Through technology, getTOD aims to revolutionise the South African trades industry by taking the hassle out of home maintenance with the click of a button. Founded by four old school friends, the business was launched in April 2016. To date it has 450 registered tradespeople and over 5000 app downloads.

The founders of getTOD include Shannon Mackrill, MD Kinetic; Daniel Marcus, CEO of Magnetic Software; Grant Bergman, Co-Head of finnVentures and Bradley Elliott, MD at Platinum Seed. Three of the Founders went to Westerford High School and one to Diocesan College and for as long as they can remember they have wanted to run their own businesses. Two in fact, did so in their early teens.

What do you think makes Cape Town a start-up hub?
Shannon Mackrill: “Maybe it is something in the water? Perhaps it is as simple as developing one’s ideas in a city that offers everything. A vibrant city life, a relaxed beach vibe along with an unmistakable energy which is equally matched by industry peers who want to see others succeed.”

Bradley Elliott: “Skills. There is a huge skills pool that resides in Cape Town, which continues to attract even more skills in the sector.”

What do you enjoy most about being part of a start-up in SA?
Bradley Elliott: “The agility to innovate and move fairly quickly compared to more bureaucratic economies.”

Shannon Mackrill: “Potential. Making a business work and thrive in a market that is as diverse and challenging as South Africa is extremely rewarding.”

Where did the idea for getTOD come from?
Shannon Mackrill: “After putting an Uber car on the road – we identified the on demand space specifically. When ordering a plumber, the lack of punctuality and reliability in the trades industry was highlighted and so we envisioned the opportunity to set standards in an industry that is largely ungoverned.”

What excited you about getTOD?
Bradley Elliott: The potential to disrupt and lend credibility to notoriously unreliable industries, and to ultimately make peoples’ lives easier through the use of technology.”

How is getTOD supporting local suppliers and helping them grow?
Grant Bergman: “We are allowing local providers a platform to earn consistently and to be directly connected to their consumer base.”

What challenges have you faced in setting up getTOD?
Daniel Marcus: “Suppliers have been our biggest challenge; we’ve had teams of people contacting every supplier in the country. It took months to overcome the challenge of helping them understand the true benefit of signing up to getTOD.”

How did you finance getTOD?
Grant Bergman: “We were lucky enough to receive funding from a high net worth individual who is also a marketing guru.”

What risks do you face as a company?
Daniel Marcus: “Competition – we’re in an extremely popular space thanks to Uber. Everyone, including us, is becoming “the Uber of” something, so we just need to keep innovating and building strong partnerships to stay ahead.”

How do you manage conflict?
Shannon Mackrill: “Open and honest communication.”

What do you think the future holds for getTOD?
Bradley Elliott: “There is massive potential. We’ve already validated the business model in a less mature and small market. With higher density metropolitan areas, we foresee much larger penetration. “

What is your vision for getTOD?
Shannon Mackrill: “To address a common demand for reliable service providers while aiming to eradicate what can often be a frustrating experience for consumers.”

What advice do you have for fellow South African entrepreneurs?
Daniel Marcus: “If you have an idea, build an MVP (minimum viable product) and just start. The longer you wait the more chance someone else will beat you to it. Run as lean as you can until you have proof of concept.”
Bradley Elliott: “You’re only as strong as your team. Surround yourself with like-minded people who have complementary skill-sets.”

It is evident that Cape Town is Africa’s epicentre for both the rise of entrepreneurship and the growth of the on demand economy. It really is the perfect storm out there for start-ups like getTOD. “Stay hungry and never give up. If it was easy, everyone would do it,” concludes Grant Bergman.

Edited By: Darryl Linington
Contact: Darryl@techitout.co.za
Follow @TechITOutMedia on Twitter

Follow @DarrylLinington on Twitter

Editor of Tech IT Out. Former radio host of Cliffcentral.com. Former Editor of IT News Africa and ITF Gaming. All round techie, gamer and entrepreneur. For Editorial Enquiries Contact: Darryl@techitout.co.za or via +27788021400.