Favorite quote: “Impossible is only possible if you see it” Hopewell Fakude
What is your story (tell us about yourself)?
I was born and raised in Mamelodi, a township in Pretoria (Gauteng, South Africa). I am passionate in solving African problems using improved and innovative modern technology. As a Bcom Information Systems Undergraduate Student (at UCT), I believe it is pivotal for me to understand the Digital Space and what technological processes and tools I can apply and/or create to enhance the African Digital Space, whilst improving the economic landscape. My life’s mission is to contribute towards the alleviation of the challenges we face around inequality and poverty in our beloved continent.
When did you start your first business and what inspired you to start?
Zistify, was started in 2019, it was a student-focused business which served to solve a problem surrounding endless queues in the Main Campus food court. The company solved the problem by offering students food delivery and collections from stores in the food court, which created convenience and saved time for students. This company was co-founded by myself and Basheer Phiri (also a student at UCT). The inspiration came eventually, when we realized that students spend a lot of time having to queue up in the food court and often at times leave the queues having not ordered anything due to the time spent in the queues.
What is the Key Objective(s) and Vision of your business? (Has it changed over time or is it always been this?)
Inspiring future innovators, whilst implanting greatness to reap sharp thinkers and world-class leaders for the foreseeable future. The mission has remained constant as we strive to be an impactful pipeline for shaping young minds prior to them embarking in their Higher educational studies.
What challenges did you face in your journey? What’s the biggest obstacle you had to overcome (are still overcoming)?
Naturally, I am an introvert, which has impeded me in my entrepreneurial journey. Over the last few years I have learned to be more open as an individual, as part of being an entrepreneur, includes being able to speak and network with individuals in a similar space. I started attending entrepreneurship events such as Startup grind, and joining the committee for UCT Entrepreneurial Society, which encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and equip myself with the necessary entrepreneurial skills.
How did you manage to navigate your company through this period of the Covid-19 pandemic? (What business strategies/operational adjustments have you made over this period and how has it impacted your business model?)
My company is relatively still new as it was started earlier this year (in February 2021). There were concerns around how I would be able to reach prospects given the situation we find ourselves in (the Coronavirus Global pandemic), which now meant traditional marketing (in-person marketing) would not be as effective as it would have, prior to the global crisis. Thus, I had to switch to digital marketing, which I think has had a positive impact on the business as it has allowed me to reach prospects across provinces without having to travel and meet people in person. The business model has also taken a knock, as I had to adjust the pricing as well as the components included in the business model.
How do you approach networking and building partnerships in your industry?
I have only recently started with building a network around my industry (Education or EdTech) as I had committed most of my time to building Viero, a SaaS platform that allows entrepreneurs to build food delivery applications in 60 seconds. But generally, when building networks I often look at the value the person will be bringing, the knowledge they have and how I can utilize what they know in my own context.
Do you have (or ever had) a mentor in your journey, and do you believe it helped (if yes, in what way)?
Yes, I have a mentor (Baratang Miya, the Founder and CEO of GirlHype). She has industry knowledge and experience that spans over a decade and has been involved with international big tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and locally she has worked with Capitec, Glenfidisch and YES4Youth. So her value in terms of shaping my thinking and approach has been paramount for the most part of my entrepreneurial journey, as well as nurturing my entrepreneurial skills and how to thrive in the tech industry. Which is why I think as an entrepreneur having a mentor helps in terms of preparing you for your entrepreneurial journey and informing you about how the various industries work.
What is your perspective on the South African entrepreneurial landscape before and after the Covid-19 pandemic? (Would you say the “new normal” context drives more or less opportunities for entrepreneurs?) How can entrepreneurial policy development aid in expanding opportunities in this new context?
I think the entrepreneurial space in South Africa prior to the Coronavirus pandemic was moving towards innovating and creating up-skilling opportunities for the less fortunate. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic a lot of companies (and organizations globally) have had to be innovative in a short period of time (and they have), which in my view has created opportunities through distance learning (as more people can now learn online and earn globally recognized certificates and qualifications) and remote working (which is bringing employment across borders). The entrepreneurial policy development policy aid can assist entrepreneurs by giving more access and opportunities to funding, for businesses catering for underdeveloped communities as these are areas which have been severely impacted by the pandemic and critically need these opportunities to improve on their economic standing.
In your opinion, what are the secrets to being a successful entrepreneur?
I think the only secret in entrepreneurship is finding a problem to solve and getting people with the necessary expertise to help you solve it.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
That they should take their roles in society seriously (myself included), as we are the future that will set a precedent for the next generation of leaders.