WhenStephen Morake left his job with an international communications firm in Londonto return to South Africa, his friends told him he was nuts. “But I knew Iwanted to do my own thing – I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur – and Ihad learned what I could in that company. It was time to come home,” he says. Agraphic designer by training, Morake had gained first hand experience of howthe taxi advertising business worked in the UK,and wanted to try out some ideas of his own in South Africa. On his return he tooka job with a printing company to gain experience in the production side of thebusiness, before launching Leseli Media six months ago.
Seeing The Gap
LeseliMedia identifies advertising space on minibus and metered taxis, and sells iton to big-name clients. “South Africa’staxi industry is very different to those in Europebut I could take what I learned overseas and apply it to a local context I knewand understood. I saw an opportunity for a business here that could work,” saysMorake. Thebusiness’s success is based on having good relationships with taxi operators.“It’s vital that our clients’ branding is placed on taxis that are roadworthy,well cared for and driven responsibly,” says Morake. He’s structured hisbusiness model so that taxi drivers get a commission cut of the advertising.“We have a stringent screening process to identify suitable taxis for clients,and drivers understand the benefit of keeping their taxis in good workingorder, and literally being a brand vehicle for our clients,” he adds.
Forclients, taxis offer an ideal avenue to establish brand presence in multiplesectors. “Taxis are moving billboards – they penetrate the rural, suburban,city and township markets. They are seen by other drivers, passengers andpedestrians. And advertising on them is far cheaper than on other outdoor medialike billboards,” says Morake.He’sdivided his offering into various streams, from full vehicle wraps and interiorbranding to simple rear window placement. “The simplest offering starts at R1000 a month, which is really affordable even for small businesses,” heexplains. But he has big business names on his client list as well, includingLesotho Tourism, Tshwane University of Technology, Tau Game Lodge and Nedbank Lesotho.
LeseliMedia currently uses subcontractors to contain costs, and Morake has beenresourceful in leveraging contacts to keep the company’s overheads to aminimum. “I have a great relationship with Omnigraphics, my former employer,and in exchange for placing all our printing and production work with them, Iget rent-free office space in their premises,” he explains. He’s alsooffered IT students mentorship and a chance to build up their portfolios inexchange for doing his website free of charge. “Myplans for the future are big – I want to grow and employ a full sales,production and administrative team. But in the meantime, I’m focusing ongetting things moving,” he says. For moreinformation, call +27 72 317 4127 or visit www.leselimedia.co.za