CEO / ECD at Teamgeek
Pretoria - South Africa
It began in a backwater mining town - Witbank, South Africa. I started my first business at the age of 17, selling punk rock CDs, 'zines and stickers at the local market on weekends. Needless to say, prospects were dire. So I decided to pack my bags for the big city. With no money, no business know-how and no shortage of determination, I set off for Pretoria, the nations capital.
Working numerous bar jobs to make ends meet, I eventually settled at a big corporate as a financial clerk, earning barely enough to survive. To keep afloat, I'd organise punk rock shows on the weekend with my long-suffering girlfriend Tania (now my loving wife). Slowly but surely, the business grew, until eventually I could afford my first car, a busted-up old VW Beetle.
Eight years into my corporate gig, I'd fought my way up from being a financial clerk to heading up the web and mobile division. The space was cluttered with red tape and nay-sayers, and my disruptive approach was frowned upon. I could see that working for somebody else was not going to be a long-term solution.
Enter my future business partner, Andrei. We founded our business on great design and development, and never settling for second best. This simple mantra became the cornerstone of our future success. Starting out, we were doing work for anyone, at any price, no matter what the requirements. This was stupid, but necessary. Looking back, we learned so much about how not to run a business that, by a process of elimination, our future success was guaranteed if we just stuck it out.
Our break came in the form of the Discovery Leadership Summit, our first big project, in 2011. A few months later, we had projects lined up from Apple, Urban Brew Studios, Discovery Vitality and even some local agencies.
Andrei's brother, Ilian, would help us out with some development from time to time, and in 2012 we convinced him to join the business. He joined and we decided to change our name to Teamgeek. In September of 2012, we moved into our first office, a puny 40 square metre space with no kitchen. The team was Ryan, Ilian, Andrei and Franco (a friend and great front-end developer).
The first year of running a business is tough. Lack of structure and understanding hampered our ability to meet deadlines, which meant we worked 18 hour days. I reached out to the tech community for mentorship, and got it from local agency mavens such as Justin Spratt (Quirk), and Craig and Mike from Cerebra. They helped me understand the importance of running a tight ship, positive company culture and good structure. I also dived head-first into reading 12 books over the next 6 months, and began the journey of fortifying my hard-won experience with wisdom from those who had already made it.
In 2014 we decided to rethink our business model and focus on servicing a handful of clients, instead of relying on projects to come in. This would turn out to be a very decisive moment in our short history and gave us the opportunity to focus and deliver great work at all times.
Blessed with amazing business partners, a team of inspired specialists, we have been able to work with the biggest brands in 9 countries around the world. I am humble and grateful.
During Teamgeek's rise to prominence, I also managed to nurture a number of commercially-successful passion projects, including Stickaroo.com, Skog.co.za, FForever.net, LiberyAndAmity.com, Markt.co.za and BrowserAwarenessDay.com.