Our second competition winner is Matlankose Matsipa, a 42-year old entrepreneur and personal brand strategist. Matsipa won a power lunch with advertising industry doyen Peter Vundla and took the opportunity to question him on how he grew his business under the most adverse conditions. Matsipa also wins two intensive coaching sessions with Business Partners Mentor and Consulting Services. This will enable him to consolidate his business plan and take the marketing of his service offering to a new level.
Ad industry pioneer understands the value of perception
Peter Vundla was one of the founders of HerdBuoys, South Africa’s first black advertising agency, in 1991. He and his partners ran the company from Vundla’s rented home in Soweto. Six years later it merged with global ad agency McCann-Erickson to form HerdBuoys McCann-Erickson, of which he became chairman. He parted ways with the agency in 2005, having pioneered transformation in South African advertising.
While in the ad industry, he began to develop an interest in the investment arena. In 1995 he was a co-founder of investment company New Seasons. In 1996 he and two Soweto entrepreneurs formed the empowerment investment house Pamodzi. Pamodzi’s acquisition of a stake in what was then called African Merchant Bank led to Vundla becoming the executive deputy chairman of the bank. Today it is known as AMB Capital, a specialist investment banking business.
Vundla serves on several boards and continues to be a major proponent of black economic empowerment as chairman of the Presidential Working Group and the Black Business Executive Circle.
What lies at the core of your success? I believe that if you want to achieve in life, you have to be driven by values such as excellence, fairness and honesty. Business is about relationships after all, so much depends on how you treat your staff, clients, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.
When you launched Herdbuoys, none of you earned a salary for six months. What kept you going? It was mainly the love of advertising. We wanted to change the world around us so that black people could stop seeing themselves portrayed only as petrol attendants, taxi drivers and maids. It was immensely gratifying to see our ads on TV because they were so different.
What were your objectives in creating Herdbuoys? Jim Collins and Jerry Porras proposed the phrase BHAG – the Big Hairy Audacious Goal – in their article Building Your Company’s Vision. A BHAG (bee-hag) is a “10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future”. Our BHAG was to challenge Afro-pessimism and to foreground African excellence.
You mention the importance of networking. Can you elaborate? Networking is about connecting with people of like interests for the purpose of uncovering opportunities and learning best practices. In a young business, you have to work hard to create a network and use it. Relying on the help of others from time to time can be enormously beneficial and can save you time, money and resources.
What was your big break? Our first break came from the then SA Breweries when the company gave us the account for one of their sorghum brands.
What other challenges did you have besides financial ones? I had to deal with racial prejudice. At O&M I was an account director who trained newcomers to the industry. But once I left the organisation, I no longer had the benefits that came with working for a white-owned agency. I solved that problem by putting together the top black advertising professionals in the country.
How do you manage business relationships? I have always believed that relationships must be established and nurtured, and never taken for granted. Some people believe it is good to be friends with your clients as they will forgive you when you make a mistake. My own policy is to separate business from friendship. I did not have to play golf with my clients because I was determined to not make mistakes. What advice do you have for a new business owner who is marketing a relatively novel concept like personal branding? The first thing to do is to follow your own concept of personal branding and get out there and market yourself. Also, know who your competitors are. You will not stand out in an intensely competitive market unless you know who you are up against. n
About Our Winner
Having completed his MBA degree last year, Matlankose Matsipa launched Gcamile Brand Solutions at the beginning of 2007. “Gcamile” means “outshine”, which sums up the mission of his business: to help companies and individuals build and nurture strong brands. Matsipa has a wealth of marketing and customer service experience in the retail, FMCG, hospitality, financial services, telecoms, manufacturing and publishing industries. His interests lie in people development. His objective is to enable individuals to understand and capitalise on their personal brand assets so that they can maximise their contribution to their work environment.