These SA entrepreneurs survived the Shark Tank

2016-12-20 22:01

Cape Town - Over the past 12 weeks, a total of 16 partnerships were struck between the five millionaire investors and everyday South Africans who were looking to start, grow or save their businesses.  

These deals totalled many millions of Rands. Throughout the season, viewers were treated to drama, laughs, awkward and heart-warming moments, and in this week’s final episode of Shark Tank South Africa, the last two deals were cemented in the tank, amidst some seriously emotional moments.

Herewith are the diverse entrepreneurs who have managed to sell their businesses to the Sharks.

1. Vusi Ravele, Native Décor: Investor Gil Oved
In the premiere episode of Shark Tank South Africa, Vusi Ravele (29) became the first entrepreneur to benefit from a lucrative investment. When Vusi passionately pitched his business “Native Décor” in the tank, the five Sharks all circled in to take the bait. Vusi, who designs and creates unique and trendy, yet functional, proudly South African home and décor items and then sells them online, created a feeding frenzy which started with Romeo Kumalo offering the pioneering go-getter, whom he believed had a clear sense of his business, the cash he needed. Dawn Nathan-Jones then quickly moved in to convince Vusi that he rather required someone like her to open doors in the corporate market in conjunction with tech guru Vinny Lingham’s ability for online strategy and international online sales.

That’s when bean counter Marnus Broodryk decided to stir the pot, pointing out that Vinny lives far away in Silicon Valley and that someone like him could be at his side, all the time, and that it would be in Vusi’s best interest to choose him and a marketer, like fellow Shark Gil Oved. Hustler Gil wanted Vusi, the epitome of what an entrepreneur should be, all for himself, however. Gil could provide mentorship, channel distribution and marketing and help him to turn into an exceptionally wealthy individual – a promise which sealed the first business deal in the history of Shark Tank South Africa. 

2. Sarah Jeffreys, Comfy Mommy Nursery Feeding Chairs: Investor Vinny Lingham
Vinny delved deep into his own pockets to invest in “Comfy Mummy Nursery Feeding Chairs”, the furniture line that Sarah is currently manufacturing in her father-in-law’s shop fitting factory. The deal was sealed with plenty of tears. After Vinny’s fellow Sharks Gil Oved, Romeo Kumalo, Dawn Nathan-Jones and Marnus Broodryk complimented Sarah’s passion, drive and superb presentation, they all declined the proposal, prompting Sarah to give it one final go.

She explained to Vinny in detail what her thought processes were, how willing she was to learn and illustrated how difficult it is for unexperienced entrepreneurs to make the right calls without proper guidance. Her heartfelt plea not only reeled Vinny in; it also made tears well up in Dawn, Gil and Marnus’ eyes. 

3. Tanya Byrne, Party Candles: Investor Dawn Nathan-Jones
Dawn jumped at the chance to support another up-and-coming female entrepreneur in her candle making business. 35-year-old Tanya Byrne from Johannesburg has been making birthday party candles out of her small factory for a few years, and is one of the only local producers of number candles in South Africa.

Once Tanya started breaking down the numbers of her sales for the Sharks, illustrating success despite fierce competition from Chinese imported candles that are very similar to hers, Dawn couldn’t help but be intrigued. “I see a bit of myself in you and I relate to you,” Dawn told Tanya, before offering her a deal and a very exciting partnership. 

4. Gavin Horn, Numberwise: Investors Vinny Lingham and Romeo Kumalo
Gavin Horn’s online mathematics literacy programme, “Numberwise”, piqued the Sharks’ interest right from the start. Gavin needed capital to turn his online maths programme into a mobile app that can be used by schools and private clients across the country and beyond on an international level. Gavin already had 3500 active users signed up to his product, which is focused on basic maths numeracy, but when the Sharks were informed that Gavin has a reputable chain of schools lined up to use “Numberwise” as their preferred supplier, it was just a matter of deciding which Sharks’ deal was the best for him. 
Accounting expert Marnus Broodryk, Vinny Lingham, Gil Oved and Romeo Kumalo all circled around the tank, trying to make deals with each other so that two of them could invest together in Gavin’s business. In the end, Gavin accepted an appetising offer from Silicon Valley-based Vinny Lingham for his tech knowledge, and local businessman Romeo Kumalo, for his myriad of contacts in the mobile industry locally and on the African continent. “This is tech that we can share across the whole world!” Vinny raved once Gavin exited the tank. 


5. Jacques Nel, Ja Brew: Investor Marnus Broodryk

Geologist Jacques Nel and his four-legged friend and mascot of his brand, bulldog Lady Trinity, were looking for an investment in his micro-brewery named “Ja Brew”. The Sharks loved Jacques’ branding and the potential for growth in the micro brewing market, but had concerns around the fact that he was still waiting for his liquor license. However, Shark Marnus, who has previously owned a vegan restaurant and understood the challenges that come with acquiring a liquor license, felt that he could have a lot of fun developing the business with Jacques, rather than simply investing. Marnus offered Jacques a deal and committed to helping him lay the essential ground work to get his business up and running properly. “Take the deal!” fellow Shark Gil Oved advised Jacques, which he was happy to do. 

6. Taryn Gill, Perfect Hair: Investor Romeo Kumalo

40-year-old media consultant Taryn Gill. Taryn came into the tank with her company “Perfect Hair”, a collection of proudly African products for African women. Taryn’s naturally made hair care products are targeted at all different hair texture types, for women, children and men, and she wanted to use the Sharks’ investment to open up concept stores. Most of the Sharks told her that this was an unrealistic idea, and not the right direction required to successfully grow her business. 

But Taryn’s personality and hustling attitude is what really got the Sharks excited. Despite offers from Gil Oved as well as Vinny Lingham, Romeo came on board with a deal that included his secure base of distribution channels, as well as more money for less equity. He also introduced a game-changer by offering his wife, business woman and former Miss South Africa Basetsana Kumalo, as a partner in the business, specifically to focus on the marketing side of things. It was an offer that Taryn simply couldn’t refuse, and with that, Romeo clinched his second deal of the season. 

7. Thabiso Mokomele, T-Squared Clothing: Investor Dawn Nathan-Jones

Thabiso’s clothing line, “T-Squared” was started out of his own garage in Gugulethu a few years ago. Since then, his distinctive streetwear brand has grown to the point where he now owns eight industrial sewing machines and his current premises is literally bursting at the seams. He needed the Sharks to give him the capital to expand, and quick. “You’re employing five people,” fellow Shark Marnus stated. “If we could get 400 000 entrepreneurs in this country on the level that you are, then unemployment is solved,” he raved. Dawn also loved Thabiso and his business from the start, and when he informed the Sharks that he is now branching into producing uniforms for local schools, it was enough for Dawn to take the plunge. Not only did she offer Thabiso much-needed capital to expand his business immediately, but she also gave him something that the other Sharks couldn’t: her time. She is relocating to Cape Town at the end of this year, and part of her deal included her one-on-one dedication to growing “T-Squared” in the Mother City. 

8. Henco and Chantelle Wiid, Creative Doormats: Investor Gil Oved

The husband and wife team from the Karoo came into the tank with their novel business called “Creative Doormats”. Having married straight out of university, Henco and Chantelle had to get creative in order to make extra money to get by. Their business is a simple one: they manufacture bespoke doormats with unique and personalised messages on them and are able to produce the mats at low margins, thanks to a secret time-saving technique that they developed themselves.  

Again, it was a case of investing in the people rather than just in the business, as a number of the Sharks started showing some serious interest in the Wiids. Vinny was first to offer them a deal, but in a move that the rest of the Sharks deemed rude and arrogant, he only gave them five seconds to accept, and without giving them the opportunity to hear from any of his fellow Sharks. This left the young couple speechless and unable to take Vinny up on his offer, but luckily for them, both Gil and Dawn chipped in with counter offers to Vinny’s. In the end, and despite a brand new offer from Vinny, Henco and Chantelle eventually decided to accept marketing guru Gil Oved’s offer due to the skills that he would be bringing to the party.

9. John and Len Oort, GoZone Water: Investor Marnus Broodryk

The two brothers mineralise their own water and distribute rental units for their water to retailers around the country. They came into the tank asking for the necessary capital to open a special bottling plant. Their business acumen, coupled with some very impressive figures immediately piqued the attention of Sharks Gil Oved, Marnus Broodryk and Vinny Lingham. However, when the Sharks discovered that the rental units were incredibly profitable, they argued that the brothers don’t even need the bottling plant, and that they should focus on distributing more units around the country. Money was not a problem for the Sharks, they were all happy to invest way more than John and Len were asking for, so the ultimate question that Gil put to the duo was: “Which Shark do you want to partner with, regardless of the deals that you have been offered.” After a short deliberation, they decided that Marnus was their man, much to the chagrin of Gil and Vinny.

10. Tamburai Cherume, One of Each: Investor Dawn Nathan Jones 

A mother-and-daughter design duo manufacturing and designing luxury African print handbags. Tamburai’s bags are made from a combination of vibrant African prints, coupled with leather. Their design allows the owner to wear the bag one of five different ways, hence the name of her company. When Tamburai informed the Sharks that she started her company two years ago in 2014 with a capital amount of R1500 and to date they have generated a revenue of over R2 million, all five of them immediately sat up and stated paying serious attention. Having a unique product that appeals to a global market, Tamburai already has 15 stockists stocking her product world-wide too. Dawn’s financial offer was clinched by the fact that she told Tamburai that she would be moving to Cape Town and could be the most hands-on of all of the Sharks in helping her to grow. 

11. Kyle Haffendon and Michael Joubert, Augmentors: Investors Vinny Lingham and Gil Oved

Kyle and Michael have created an augmented reality game allowing two mobile devices to communicate with each other in order to allow their users to battle against each other in the game. They required capital from the Sharks in order to complete the development of the game, the aim of which is to bring socialisation back into online gaming with the introduction of special “trigger” cards that players are required to buy in order to advance further in the game. Impressed with the young men’s concept as well as their background as designers and developers, the Sharks showed some interest. Gil Oved proposed a deal contingent on the fact that fellow Shark and tech mogul Vinny go in with him. Vinny agreed.

12. Shona MacDonald, Thursdays Swimwear and Lingerie: Investor Vinny Lingham

Previous Survivor SA: Champions contestant Shona MacDonald has come a long way since her days on a deserted island. A brand specially aimed at bigger-busted women. In Shona’s words, she “supports boobs” – quite literally! Even though her business is still a fledgling operation, Shona has spent the last two years on market research and product development and impressed the Sharks with her knowledge of the industry. She was seeking capital from the Sharks in order to roll out the new line for next season’s swimwear garments and to get the lingerie arm of the company up and running. Vinny Lingham won Shona over, as he offered to assist her with capital as well as his technological expertise, in order to take “Thursdays” to new heights in the global online retail space. 

13. Vincent Viviers and Enrico Ferigolli, Bottles: Investor Gil Oved

Quite simply, “Bottles” is a service that delivers alcohol directly to your home in under 60 minutes. All you have to do is select your location, browse the menu, choose your items and check out. The duo explained deal exclusively in alcohol and that they’re the only app that currently operates under an on-demand service, delivering the goods in under an hour. With a succinct and clear pitch, the “Bottles” team received three offers from Gil Oved, Marnus Broodryk and Vinny Lingham. In the end, it was Gil’s offer that proved the sweetest for them, and they chose to partner with the marketing guru.

14. Daniel van der Spuy, LC Infinity Innovations: Investor: Romeo Kumalo 

Daniel van der Spuy and his nephew Adriaan van der Spuy came into the tank with a revolutionary medical invention. Daniel, who has enjoyed a long career as a plumber, was diagnosed with advanced Crohn’s Disease a few months after getting married. And so, with Adriaan’s encouragement he made a plan and invented the “Lazarus” device, which effectively and easily cleans out medical bags of this sort. Daniel came into the tank hoping to land capital in order to patent his product and launch it properly around the country – and eventually the globe. 

Visibly moved by Daniel’s struggle and by his fighting spirit, the Sharks all offered to give him the money required to get the patent as soon as possible. They were all willing to do this for no equity in the business, but simply because they felt strongly that Project Lazarus needed to get going, and quickly. Romeo Kumalo also offered them a proper deal, over and above this. As he told Daniel, “this is a great South African innovation and I’m so looking forward to working with you guys. We can change lives around the world.” With that, Daniel and Adriaan walked away with cash injections from all of the Sharks, as well as a deal with Romeo. 

15. Anton Fester, Ice Cream Ninjas: Investor Vinny Lingham

The “Ninjas” have a unique way of selling their ice cream by using skilful demonstration styles to engage with their customers and create unique flavour combinations that will never leave their clientele bored or dissatisfied. They mainly take their demo-style ice cream gigs to events around the country, and this part of their business has been very successful over the past three years. Anton came into the tank hoping to obtain capital from a Shark in order to open his own line of kiosks in shopping centres around South Africa. Vinny Lingham brokered a deal to give him the money to roll the kiosks out slowly and steadily and together we will follow the processes that will make this business scalable.

16. Chelsea Evans and Jason Newmark, Plan My Wedding: Investors Dawn Nathan-Jones and Gil Oved

The wedding app will be first of its kinds to market in SA, with a wide selection of wedding vendors, all localised. Their main revenue stream is through vendors, but also an e-commerce function – in-app upgrades.  Vendors can list for free on the service but then pay subscription fee of R200 per month to upgrade their listings. Dawn and Gil brokered a joint deal of R200 000 each for 25% each (R400 000 for 50% in other words) contingent on reducing their equity stake once they’ve made their investment back.

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