Dreaming Big... Making it happen

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<ul><li><p>7/28/2019 Dreaming Big... Making it happen</p><p> 1/4</p><p>trve tl</p><p>DR ING BIGMAKING IT HAPPENA combination of hard work, dedication aninnovation has enabled two Cape-baseentrepreneurs to grow a business and sellfor more than 40 times the original value their investment - R126 million to be exacBV I'IONIQUE VERDU</p><p>PI{OTOS BY BEVAN DA</p><p>jr'"'</p><p>::,</p><p>THREE STEPS TO HIGH-IMPACT GROWTH WHEN ROB SUSSMAN AND LAFANAROFF FOUNDED INTEGRS IT IN MA2OOl in the wake of the dotcom crash, theyinvesied R15O 0O0 to get it off the grounthough they were fired up by thelr passiotechnology and enabling it to work bettecustomers, neither of the two high-impact epreneurs had any idea they would grow Ininto the largest privately-owned ICT com</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Dreaming Big... Making it happen</p><p> 2/4</p><p>Exactly 12 years later they sold it formillion to the country's largest publical-technology company, the BusinessGroup (BCG), ln a cash deal. Bothon board as joint CEOs.</p><p>says many high-growth businessestwo people at the heim. "We've had a verypartnership because we brlng differ-things to the company, while sharing the</p><p>core values of integrity, honesty and hardlt can be extremely difficult to achieveas we have in such a short time, andwe did it because of the strength ofpartnership. Business is tough, and to havewith whom you can share the burdenthe wins makes all the difference. Whenworking late and travelling all over the</p><p>it's great to have a friend by your side."partners have created hundreds of jobsthe way and generated millions of randsTheir story is inspiring because it re-exactly how powerful entrepreneurship is</p><p>force for sustained economic development.don't come from wealthy families," saysan electrical engineer by profession.one gave us money to start the business,we could not borrow it either. We scrapeda total of R300 00O and we shared awhlle we were working on it in the earlyLance is married to my sister, which meansour families are close. Whenever we trav-to Johannesburg for business, we would</p><p>with family members and borrow their carsaround. We kept our initial expenses very,low and ran the business extremely lean. Weit strictly from the ground up, and that initial</p><p>was the only personal money we everput into it."business has been characterlsed by ex-growth since day one. "We re-gearthe company every few yearsthe next growth spurt and aswe are able to continue growing," says"With the experience we have gainedthe past decade, we can scale the business</p><p>faster today. lt's critical to place the rightin the right positions - the most difficulthas always been the people - technologyahead, the company aims to pen-the public sectol to continue to grow</p><p>into the African continent, and to eventuallyinternationa I ise."Now, as part of the Business ConnexionGroup, we are listed as a multi-billion rand en-terprise," says Sussman. The deal with BusinessConnexion, a Ieading black-owned ICT servicesprovider, creates a single organisation with7 OOO highly skilled employees who witt be deliv-ering services from the mid-market corporate toenterprise space across Africa.</p><p>Sussman and Fanaroff have held onto thevarious other businesses in the IntegrS group- including fax, telecoms, property and asset fi-nance companies - and will change the name ofthe group now that the lT business is owned byBusiness Connexion.I Always focus on innovationI Sussman points out that the business hasII had a strong focus on innovation from dayone. lt's a claim many business owners make, butwhat does it actually mean? lnnovation has beendefined as the process of translating an idea orinvention into a product or service that createsvalue oT for which customers will pay. The ideahas to be replicable at an economical cost andmust satisfy a specific need. In business, innova-tion is usually the result of ideas being applied bythe company to satisfy the identified needs andexpectations of its customers. lt's no secret thatinnovation is synonymous with risk-taking: The</p><p>Irrxrrisk is so great because it's about creating a nmarket.</p><p>Sussman says that in a rapidly changworld, it's not the biggest companies thatsucceed, but the fastest. "Constant innovatand change are required in line with what is hpening outside of the business," he says. "Ycan never take your eye off what your comptors are doing and where the market is movin</p><p>He says IntegrS has always had in place a twyear roadmap for the business, and that the copany tries to obsolete its own model beforemarket does because lagging behind is fatal."Our people spend about 1O% of their tilooking at new ideas and new projects. When thbring these to us, we evaluate them and ifproposition makes sense, we implement. We dowait for days, weeks or months. We look at it awe make a decision. Never allow bureaucracystif Ie a great idea."al Find a killer differentiatorf lt's not the services IntegrS provides th/f.- differentiate the company, but the wayprovides them."We are the owners, lnnovators and opetors of the only'Nerve Centre' on African soSussman says. He describes the Nerve Centrethe nucleus of Integr8's lT management offerinBased in Johannesburg, it's a hub built on somof the world's best technology. lt gives the copany's engineers access to clients' ICT systemand enables them to conduct running repaisecurity updates and remote audits to ensuoptimal operations.</p><p>"Designing the Nerve Centre was key, ashas allowed the business to scale. When yobusiness is privately owned and has no financibacking, you have to be very careful with evebit of money you make and use it as smartlypossible. As we got more clients, we needed mopeople. The key question was how to build ocustomeT base without having to employ mopeople as this would raise our costs. The solutiowas to put our best people in a purpose built tecnical hub where each one of them is able to loafter multiple clients over the Internet.</p><p>Instead of placing employees on-site at the cents' premises, which is far more expensive, wleveraged technology. We needed a networkmanage clients so we used the lnternet. This hnever been done before in South Africa, and iwhat allowed us to scale rapidly.</p><p>Sussman says he and Fanaroff knew thcompanles like theirs would be unable to growithout a platform in place. They had spea Iot of tlme evaluating the systems and toothat other companies were using, documentinwhere they were falling short, and then buildintheir solution on top of that. Today, this digit</p><p>rEVE</p><p>like to see ourselves like Faeehook or Google -are deeply serious businesses, but they haveenergy and a carlture that makes people r$ant toemployed by them."</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Dreaming Big... Making it happen</p><p> 3/4</p><p>"tllith the experience we hase gained cver thepast decade, urre can scale the husiness a lct fastertoday. It's critical tc place the right people in theright positions - the most diffiflrlt part has al-ways been the people - technology is easy.o'</p><p>reve rl</p><p>&amp;ilp*rurr':,ia*:*-ffi</p><p>manages and regulates the ICT environmentmany of the country's leadinq corporations.</p><p>Corporatise the business\rne concepl of corporatisation is a dirtyone in many entrepreneurial circles, butinsists that corporatising IntegrS wasprepared the company for growth andfor its acquisition by the Business</p><p>Group.Essentially,it's the process oI structuring anto reflect the structure of a publi-</p><p>owned corporation and giving it the featuresa large commercial business. ls it possible Loand still maintain entrepreneurial</p><p>lair and f lexibility? Sussman says it is. "We grewbusiness from the ground up, and we have</p><p>focused on maintaininq an entrepreneur-culture, but we also knew thatwas essential to put in place controls, processgood goveTnance to enable the business'grow up' properly. We don't advise that an</p><p>entrepreneurial business corporatises immediate-ly, but as additional clients come on board and en-able you to do so as a result of growth. You can'tcorporatise too qulckly as you risk hindering thespirit of a start-up."</p><p>Corporatising, says Sussman, is quite simple.It's about acting professionally and havlng thesystems and controls in place that make businesssen se."That's why, when the Business ConnexionGroup came to see us, they saw a professional,well managed business that was structured andorga n i sed."</p><p>He's keen to point out, however, that Integr8has a young, fun culture. "We like to see ourselveslike Facebook or Google - they are deeply seriousbusinesses, but ihey have an energy and a culturethat makes people want to be employed by them.I think that's one of the reasons why we have CVspouring into the business. As an organisation, wehave a great reputation and people want to be apart of what we do."</p></li><li><p>7/28/2019 Dreaming Big... Making it happen</p><p> 4/4</p><p>THT "HOW.TO'' HANDBOOK FOR GROWING COMPANIE</p><p>DIFFERENT</p><p>WWW.ENTREPRENEU RMAG.CO.Z</p><p>Quick, easy anrnexpenstv</p><p>from two entreprenewho sold their busineto SA's largest listedtech company forR126 million</p><p>SMARTEWAYS TOr,: Turflcustomeinto fansi: Stay quic0n yourfeeti,,Stand oufrom thecrowdo Get youremailsread</p><p>Ll</p><p>JUNE 2013 - ISSUE 87</p><p>, ilililruilflIiillffi lll ltltiftR35.90 ( NCL. VAT)</p><p>JUNE 2OI3</p><p>FOTLOWRULES,</p><p>CEO of Google Af ricaentrepreneur,set his siohts onof the world's</p><p>lazaridesffimmmml</p><p>'WHffitrfl Rffii '$)sffmsM mffout how he built hisand a l5O-store</p></li></ul>