Business giants Lebo Gunguluza, Vusi Thembekwayo, Polo Leteka Radebe, Gil Oved and Vinny Lingham will be putting SA entrepreneurs through their paces as they look to secure funding or mentorship for their big business ideas.
“We really have pulled together a very impressive collection of Dragons for the first-ever South African Dragons’ Den,” says Nkateko Mabaso, M-Net’s Director for Local Interest Channels. “The diversity of entrepreneurial spirit and individuality of each of the five Dragons is certainly upping the stakes and is likely to play a big part in making Dragons’ Den unmissable viewing.”
Events, publishing and hospitality expert Lebo Gunguluza knows what it’s like to succeed – and then fail – at business ideas. A Bachelor of Commerce graduate, Gunguluza worked as marketing manager for Metro FM before being headhunted by advertising agency Herdbuoys and then taking his first steps into entrepreneurship. His businesses – including Gunguluza Entertainment and Corporate Fusion – have seen Gunguluza travel a challenging path before finally scoring big with Gunguluza Enterprises & Media which boasts 12 print publications, stakes in numerous hotels and a car-hire business.
“I had grown up so deprived that I was determined to make a lot of money and never experience poverty again,” says Gunguluza. “I set three goals: to become a millionaire by age 25, a multimillionaire by 35 and a billionaire by 45.”
Known as the “Rock Star of Speakers”, the rise of Benoni-born Vusi Thembekwayo as one of South Africa’s top business speakers, advisor to CEOs and large-scale entrepreneurs has been meteoric. Not yet 30, he recently sold a portion of his advisory and private equity firm to the global investment bank Watermark Capital Llc. Today he is the CEO of Watermark Pan-African Capital Ltd, which holds interests in East & West Africa. Through his investments he holds directorships that give him influence of over R4,32-billion in capital.
Vusi is the youngest director of a JSE-listed company (he was appointed as a non-executive director of listed property developer RBA Holdings in 2013). In the same year he was invited to speak at the World Bank and in 2014 he qualified (through dollar earnings) to join the National Speakers Association in New York. “This is what I was born to do,” he says of the motivational speaking career that runs alongside his entrepreneurial one.
Polo Leteka Radebe
Polo Leteka Radebe is the chief executive of Identity Partners, a small and medium enterprises advisory and fund management services firm founded in late 2007 by Radebe, Sonja Sebotsa and Raisibe Morathi. Together they have over 45 years of collective experience in business and investment banking – and also have investments in the technology, petro-chemicals, transport and insurance sectors.
Radebe’s extensive experience working with entrepreneurs comes through the Identity Development Fund, which offers services to small and medium enterprise. “We talk big about SMEs, but we have done nothing to address their funding issues in South Africa,” she says. Radebe serves as a Director of the South African Venture Capital Association and was previously the Chief Director for BEE at the Department of Trade and Industry.
In 2003, tech start-up guru Vinny Lingham funded his first technology business at the tender age of 24, by selling his house for a R125 000 profit and racking up R75 000 on his credit cards. That company was incuBeta and its subsidiary Clicks2Customers, which remains the leading SA Search Marketing company were the start of Lingham’s journey as a tech entrepreneur based in Cape Town. The company generated over $10m/year in revenues within four years.
Next up was Yola.com, a company he founded to help small businesses build websites without technical skills, and which saw Lingham relocate to Silicon Valley, California in 2007 and grow the business into a massive success. In 2012, he launched Gyft (a mobile wallet for online gift cards), with investments from Google Ventures & Ashton Kutcher, which was also just recently purchased by First Data Corporation – the world’s largest payments processor. He also co-founded the Silicon Cape Initiative, an NGO that aims to turn the Western Cape into a technology start-up hub.
Thirteen years after Gil Oved and Ran Neu-Ner’s online trading venture went bust in 2001, they helm a R600-million turnover company that employs almost a thousand people. That company is The Creative Counsel, South Africa’s biggest advertising group, which runs up to 300 campaigns a year. “All too often entrepreneurs are sinking in a sea of opportunities, and the more successful you become, the greater the opportunities that come your way,” says Oved of the journey he himself has undertaken. The past 20 years have seen Oved and co-founder Neu-Ner either purchase or start over a dozen companies, spanning digital, activations, production and field marketing services, Oved recently assumed the role of Young Presidents’ Organisation’s Chapter Chair for Johannesburg, and together with Neu-Ner, was awarded the 2013 Absa Unlisted Company Award for business excellence and entrepreneurship. Dragons’ Den South Africa, in partnership with Telkom Business, allows entrepreneurs an opportunity to access venture capital funding, solid experience and business know-how to take their creative idea or business plan to the next level.
Don’t miss the premier of Dragon’s Den South Africa on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 at 7pm on Mzansi Magic – Channel 161.