Being an entrepreneur in South Africa

I recently read an article about Sean Parker, discussing the risks of being an entrepreneur in today’s digital climate. It’s interesting to note how, as he’s grown older and more experienced, his tendency to take risks have diminished to some degree. Not that he has to really worry about ever working again to be honest. But that’s not the point of being an entrepreneur…

“Most entrepreneurs don’t remain entrepreneurs. It’s just too psychologically draining to have to constantly start over.” – Sean Parker

There is a lot of truth in this. In my opinion most young entrepreneurs are shielded from failure, purely because they are naive and have such a passion for success that they’re able to overcome challenges as they arise in their stride. They’re usually committed too far by the time challenges come up and find innovative ways to overcome obstacles (and yes this is a good thing).

“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.” – Albert Einstein

For any true entrepreneur, the passion never dies as you move onto new things or have failures. I think a lot of successful entrepreneurs mature and grow into a comfortable environment of venture capital once they have had their first big payout. It makes total sense, but the ideas and dreams never stop and it was the same for Sean, who after a long stint of dabbling in VC world, decided to tackle a new startup called Airtime.

In technology, entrepreneurs have a great passion to innovate. Innovation is never ending and it’s something that’s close to my heart too. Sometimes people have an idea, that’s not possible to see to fruition with today’s technology (they usually don’t know that at the time). There has been countless cases where technology products have failed because either the market was not ready, or the technology itself failed the concept, but the innovation goes hand in hand with technology. It’s an exciting time, especially to see how existing technology companies innovate to retain their user bases (think Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter etc).

In South Africa we have a great number of entrepreneurs, even in technology, but we are limited in the exposure and mentorship we can gain from their success stories.

Until recently.

I stumbled across No Picket Fence. It’s a simple local initiative that helps startups connect with seasoned entrepreneurs through an intuitive questions and answers format. This is great. This mitigates risk for startups by being able to receive free mentorship and helps  to grow entrepreneurial spirit which I come across in a lot of my fellow South Africans.

We can only salute guys like Mark Shuttleworth (who has put an immense amount of effort back into social enterprise with his work in the Shuttleworth Foundation) and Elon Musk (Paypal, SpaceX, Tesla), who’s living the dream of all South African technology entrepreneurs, and taking on the ‘next frontier’.

Watch this space…


1 Comment
  • Lee Stuttaford
    Jul 25, 2012

    Nice perspective on the article 🙂

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