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Serial entrepreneur and Chairman and Founder of Futureneers.
Jo started his first business in 1991 when he identified a gap in the market for affordable food and fresh produce in the townships. He succeeded in bringing down the cost of food significantly and subsequently scaled the business to various townships. Upon selling that business, Jo joined his brother in a business where they rented out sheds to builders. That specific venture grew to become one of the largest manufacturers of prefabricated houses. Jo and his brother later opted to sell the company.
Jo prefers the thrill of a start-up to the stability of an established business which is why he tends to sell his businesses once he’s grown them sufficiently. He feels his creativity would be stifled in a mature company.
Jo proceeded from the retail space to the construction space and eventually moved on to the tech space. In-between all that, he founded a fast food chain after he saw the need for quality hotdogs in South Africa. They have about 300 outlets as part of that franchise at the moment. From Jo’s passion for alternative advertising came Yonder Media.
Differentiate Yourself from your Competitors
Private equity companies in South Africa are mostly risk-averse, according to Jo, because they comprise of corporate bankers who haven’t been exposed to startups. To stimulate economic development the government started the J12 tax incentive and many new venture capital companies fall in this category. Jo agrees that when investing in very early stages of a startup, you need to invest much more than just money. He handpicked his co-founders to be part of the team at Futureneurs. They all have multiple success stories behind their names.
A few people on the advisory board are investors in Futureneurs, but most are philanthropists who want to see others succeed. Joe feels that successful entrepreneurs naturally lean towards helping new entrepreneurs. The real value proposition of Futureneurs lies in their potential to mentor each entrepreneur who goes through their programme.
Futureneurs charge a 4% annual fee for their board of experts to really get involved in these startups. Based on various factors an equity deal is negotiated with the owner of the startup.
Futureneurs do not fund ideas at the moment – they do not invest in the very early stages of a business. Jo is however considering a seed fund cluster in the near future. At the moment they still require a startup to have a minimum viable product (MVP) for them to invest. They look at your ability to protect the technology of your idea. Furthermore they will take into consideration how long it will take to scale your idea. Jo and his team also do due diligence on the entrepreneur in question to give them an indication of how much time and effort is needed to mentor this person. Although he feels that it is technology that differentiates startups, they do not only invest in tech businesses.
To have access to capital at the right stage in your business can make all the difference. Jo uses Uber as an example – the founders identified a problem that they wanted to fix and had capital input at the right stage to scale their business to a global level.
Jo believes that entrepreneurs should be properly incentivised at all times and acquiring too much equity only discourages the founders. This also negatively impacts the nature of the relationship between investor and entrepreneur. That is why Futureneurs feel it should be a fair agreement for both parties involved.
There is a window of opportunity for a business with working technology to scale their operations and that window is much smaller than it was 30 years ago. Your competition could be right behind you with the same technology. You should always be thinking of ways to maximise your business.
If an entrepreneur has a good idea and is making profit off of it, but he feels the urge to take his business to the next level, he will need assistance. If he wants to grow his business internationally he will need global investors. Futureneurs are capable of exposing you to the most appropriate investor. By means of their network of connections they lower the risk of investing in your business.