June 22, 2020
Inspiring words to all South African aspiring tech entrepreneurs from a VC general partner

The only constant in life is change, but right now, we are in the middle of a particularly rapid period of change in history. Among other things, the global pandemic that countries are all fighting will change the socio-economic landscape, the political landscape, and the way business is done in the future. Many companies are seeking to digitize portions of their business model, and are reaching out to innovative technology companies for solutions to their problems. There is a well-known quote that “necessity is the mother of invention”. This is so true, as many companies can no longer operate without a digital strategy or at least a reduction in face-to-face engagement with employees and customers.

This leads me to the core reasons why I think talented people should consider technology entrepreneurship as a future career path. But before going there, I must stress that this is not an easy path. I am a Partner at a Venture Capital Company, and I can say from my own experience, as well as from working with numerous early-stage companies, that entrepreneurship is challenging and requires real grit and discipline to succeed in. For most startup founders, they earn a lot less money than they would in the corporate world for a number of years and only turn that around if their startup succeeds and their shares become worth something one day. It is a wild and often thrilling ride. Nevertheless, for the adventurous and determined amongst you, I would recommend considering this path for various reasons:

Here are my seven reasons why you should consider being a tech entrepreneur in South Africa.

  1. Technology is the way of the future. More and more companies will need technology solutions to real-world problems and you can be part of providing that.
  2. Technology skills, of which there are numerous, are amongst the top scarce skills listed in South Africa. This means that if you are trained in these skills, your chances of getting a job in the market place is substantially increased, as your skills will almost always be needed.
  3. Technology skills are transferable anywhere in the world, so it makes people with these skills more economically mobile. The nature of the work often also allows you to work remotely and under your own conditions.   
  4. Entrepreneurs need funding in order to succeed. Many never get investment from institutional investors (Venture Capital or Private Equity Companies). However, there is a strong increase in available Venture Capital funding in South Africa, both through new Venture Capital Companies, as well as large companies forming their own Corporate Venture arms. There has never been a better time for South African tech entrepreneurs to be looking for funding to fund strong and scalable businesses, and this is going to improve over the next few years.
  5. Running a startup (or being on the management team) will teach you so much about business and yourself. You will be forced to learn how to cope with a lot of things that you would not be exposed to in a corporate job, like commercial negotiations, hiring a team, forecasting cash flows, and pivoting your strategy. You will learn how you handle under pressure – tip: you won’t like all that you see of yourself either.
  6. The future of job growth will be found in small companies. Large companies are laying off staff as economies falter, and the time is ripe for small companies to take some of their market shares.   
  7. If you are not close to the developments in technological innovation, you will be left behind. The major innovations over the next 20 years will all inevitably be driven by technological beak-throughs, and you can choose to be part of that or to let it pass you by.

ABOUT ROSS

Ross spent almost ten years as an equity analyst, and two years undertaking strategic projects in the office of the CEO of Standard Bank South Africa. He spent a little more than 2 years doing a special project to achieve greater collaboration between two major business silos within Standard Bank. Ross has also co-owned and managed a distribution business with 35 employees. He is currently a partner in Kingson Capital, a registered Section 12J Venture Capital Company.

He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours in Economics). Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).  He also serves as an adviser and Board member on several startups including:

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