Dreaming of starting your own business is one thing. Having the vision and the guts to do it is quite another. These are the wise words of Vusi Thembekwayo, one of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Together with South African whisky industry pioneer Andy Watts, they will offer one lucky Three Ships consumer an all-expenses-paid mentorship and a R100 000 capital injection in starting or strengthening his or her business.
The nationwide competition is running from now until 31 December and consumers need to register their business ideas online (www.threeshipswhisky.co.za) along with the unique code found on Three Ships whisky bottles in-store and on the branded glasses when purchasing a tot of whisky at participating taverns and restaurants. The business proposals can be concepts, potential start-ups or relate to existing businesses. All entries will be judged on merit. The 10 finalists will present their business plans to Vusi and Andy in a final event which will be streamed live online in February next year.
Vusi and Andy, although working in different industries, are both pioneers in their own right, pushing boundaries and leading the way for others to follow.
Andy has achieved many firsts for the South African whisky industry and his vision and dedication in turning the country into a serious contender globally has certainly not been an easy, smooth ride. A professional cricketer who happened to be at the right time and place when starting his career in whisky-making, he has taken some bold steps over the past 25 years in creating whiskies that would only be consumed years later – not knowing that they would then be applauded by whisky lovers the world over.
However, his vision has paid off. The range of Three Ships whiskies have garnered double gold and gold at all the major international whisky competitions including winning the title World’s Best Blended Whisky for the Three Ships Premium Select 5 Year Old at the 2012 World Whisky Awards and the Worldwide Whisky Trophy and a gold outstanding distinction at the 2015 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) for the Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt.
Vusi’s journey was also not a straight trajectory and he had to confront many challenges which he now believes all contributed to the person he is today. “There were times in my life when I survived only on the passion that drove me, when I slept in my car at my first office.”
At the age of 15, encouraged by one of his teachers, Vusi started public speaking and at the young age of 17 was ranked first in Africa for motivational speaking and received a 3rd in the world at the English Speaking Union International Competition.
Vusi was forced to drop out of university at the end of his first year because of financial constraints. Ever the solution-seeker, Vusi used his international networks (gained through public speaking) and began recruiting learners in South Africa for jobs in the UK and Australia. This initiative birthed his first company – GPSA (Global Professionals South Africa) – a global recruitment agency that he ran from his township bedroom. Vusi then sold a portion of his business to a Johannesburg based digital agency in an effort to digitise his company. Too early for the digital revolution and having poorly chosen partners, Vusi was soon out of business and money.
At the age of 22 Vusi received a life-changing opportunity – he was offered a position at a corporate finance company. Here he refined his skills in corporate finance and became one of the go-to leverage finance guys in the team. Vusi went on to become an executive at this company – one of the largest consumer goods businesses in Africa – where he started, grew and managed a multimillion dollar portfolio.
“Risk lies on either side of investment and reward,” says Vusi. “Young South Africans are too focussed on surviving and do not invest enough time and effort in their goals. Surviving shouldn’t be the option, extreme success should be.”
Today Vusi has garnered numerous awards as a business person and entrepreneur. He is a global business speaker who has single-handedly rewritten the rules of success for professional speakers in Africa. Vusi is known as the Rock Star of Public Speaking and has spoken in 24 countries over the past decade, and in 2013 hosted a sold-out show in Las Vegas as part of his Global Inspiration Tour. In addition to his public speaking, he is the Chief Executive of MOTIV8 Advisory, Chairman of Watermark Afrika Fund – a private equity house with assets in six African countries – and Chairman of the venture capitalist start-up, My Growth Fund.
Vusi’s three top tips to be successful:
- Stop thinking and start doing. Nothing we see, do, buy, experience wasn’t at some point in someone’s imagination
- Start with what you’ve got. Don’t wait for the big break, the funds or a partner or you will never get to the point of actually starting
- Have courage. No excel spreadsheet will tell you what is to come. Your costs will be double, the customers you have now will change their minds, you will lose your friends and put pressure on your family. Life as you know it will change completely. If you want to step out of the comfort zone into the uncertainty of entrepreneurship it is a very different life, but deeply rewarding
For more info on how to enter: visit: www.threeshipswhisky.co.za
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