300 Young South Africans: Technology (Part 2)
In this section: Anthony Pascoe, Rudolph Muller and more…
David and Marc Perel, podcast hosts
From The Couch
@oxbox on Twitter
A few months ago, brothers Marc and David Perel had an epiphany. The web designing bloggers decided they wanted more than mere printed words—they wanted their own TV show.
So they launched their very own video podcast From the Couch, which covers everything under the web. Viewers can watch interviews, site reviews and tutorials in a sort of high tech Wayne’s World with a totally unscripted format that keeps the show natural and funny.
But providing the world with insider tech secrets isn’t their altruistic mission. Nope, these savvy twenty-somethings are building their own brand, a larger-than-life reputation and are getting exposure around their design and programming skills.
After finishing school the brothers started working for their programmer dad, so they were on good footing for their future business undertaking—Obox, a web design company they started while still in their teens. Initially, they used their small business cash as a sideline to fund their interests in motorsport and cycling. Now they are so busy, they struggle to find time for anything else.
The brothers say they just wanted to be themselves and get their message across with their podcast. Their plan seems to be working. They were nominated for three awards at the recent South African Blog Awards and ended up taking home the award for Best New Blog. Next up: best new Web TV show. And they did all this right from their couch.—Eamon Allan
Lunch spot: Summerville, Camp’s Bay, Cape Town
Rudolph Muller; founder; MyBroadband
Rudolph Muller has always had an interest in all things related to the internet, but it was not until the advent of broadband in South Africa that he decided to make a career of it.
In 2003, he changed careers from mathematics and physics education to information technology. That was when he started MyADSL, now known as MyBroadband, with the aim of bringing broadband users together, allowing them to air their views. After a two-year stint as an IT lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, Muller moved to run MyBroadband full time.
MyBroadband has become the largest IT website in South Africa and hosts an annual conference attracting delegates from around the country. But he is pleased that companies are now actively engaging with consumers on MyBroadband out of choice.—Lloyd Gedye
Lunch spot: The Butcher Shop, Sandton, Johannesburg
Matthew Buckland; founder; 20FourLabs
@matthewbuckland on Twitter
No stranger to the world of technology, Matthew Buckland starting programming at the tender age of seven. He also got involved in online media pretty much since its inception in South Africa. Buckland has spoken and guest-lectured on online media issues around the world.
Eight months ago, Buckland founded and now heads 20FourLabs (www.20fourlabs.com), an innovation division at 24.com, the country’s largest online operation. He was the head of Mail & Guardian Online, is a former chair of the local Online Publishers Association and a director of Creative Commons, South Africa. He also co-founded 2008 Webby Honoree Thought Leader and blog aggregator amatomu.com.—Jane Steinacker
Lunch spot: Beluga, Cape Town
Arthur Attwell; managing director, Electric Book Works
Technophobes, prepare for assimilation. Arthur Attwell is the managing director of Electric Book Works, a maverick independent publishing house based in Cape Town.
Selected by the British Council as South Africa’s 2009 Young Publishing Entrepeneur of the Year and runner up in the British Council International Award, Artwell is driving e-book development in South Africa.
Part of his offering is professional publishing to new authors through Mousehand and the development of educational titles.
He recently made e-book history, launching an electronic version of Lauren Beukes’ novel, Moxyland, which includes an embedded soundtrack.—Eamon Allan
Lunch spot: Queen of Tarts, Observatory, Cape Town
Jason Bagley, web entrepreneur
Jason Bagley met his former business partner on Twitter. This may sound odd but it is totally in character for this Generation Y entrepreneur, who professes a dislike of “old-school corporates”.
Bagley has little formal education and learned most of his developers’ skills on the job.
“I didn’t want to wait three to four years studying before I could start working,” he says. So far, it’s been a good strategy. He’s worked for Trustco Goup International, Travelogic and Younique.
Earlier this year, Bagley’s popular, but unofficial My Coke Fest blog, which featured advertising and made use of Coke trademarks, came under fire from Coke. Under threat of legal action, Bagley sanitised and relocated the blog, but retained a loyal community base. He says the incident shows a lack of understanding about how social media works.
Bagley recently set up his own media company, Beanbag Media, and also consults to World Wide Creative. He runs the Incredible Connection blog.—Faranaaz Parker
Lunch spot: Wine, Women and Sushi, Somerset West, Cape Town
Mike Stopforth, social media entrepreneur
Mike Stopforth has never been a geek. He can’t code to save his life. Yet he’s one of the country’s top social media evangelists. Once an “average Google-user”, Stopforth worked a range of odd jobs before discovering a passion for social media. He has a knack for taking the “geek speak” out of social media and helping companies understand the value of social media for business.
“Social media is not about blogs or Facebook or Twitter; it’s about how people connect to each other,” Stopforth says.
Three years ago, he founded Cerebra, a social-media startup, that now boasts clients such as Converse, Toyota and Standard Bank. In 2007, he co-founded Afrigator.com, a social media aggregator that won international attention and was later sold to MIH Print Africa.
Stopforth has lectured at marketing and business schools and is a popular speaker at business-to-business events. He also instigated 27dinner, a multi-city networking platform for professionals looking to leverage the internet for business.—Faranaaz Parker
Lunch spot: The Grillhouse, Sandton, Johannesburg
Adriaan (Adii) Pienaar, co-founder,Woothemes.com
Until about 16 months ago, Adii Pienaar from Cape Town was loosely collaborating on a project with Magnus Jepson from Norway and Mark Forrester in the United Kingdom. It was then that they decided to formalise their business into what is now known as Woothemes.com.
Woothemes.com offers registered users some of the most cutting-edge WordPress (open source blog application templates) templates, packed full of features, presented beautifully with clean layouts, slick colour palettes and neat typography. And since July last year the trio have attracted more than 7 000 registered users for their online website templates. The three partners finally met in person for the first time in May this year. Pienaar has an honours degree in business strategy from Stellenbosch University.—Jane Steinacker
Lunch spot: Café Magnifico, Willowbridge
Justin Drennan; managing director; WantItAll.co.za
A self-proclaimed IT geek who’s been obsessed with computers since he was 10, Justin Drennan now heads South Africa’s biggest online shopping store. WantItAll.co.za was founded in 1996 by Drennan, his brother and a friend with a mission of making overseas products readily available to South African customers.
The idea has paid off. Spectacularly. Now WantItAll has become internationally renowned for its e-commerce services.
The store provides over 14-million products to customers, including imported goods through an associate agreement with Amazon.com. It has branched out to Brazil and Nigeria, importing everything from toothpicks to R150 000 camera lenses.
Ever since Amazon stopped shipping goods to South Africa because of problems with the South African Post Office, WantItAll has become the main stop for local customers wanting to buy hard-to-find items.
The store delivers products countrywide through a courier service directly to a customer’s doorstep.—Qudsiya Karrim
Lunch spot: Any place that serves good Indian food
Heidi Schneigansz; marketing producer; Quirk eMarketing
“Hi, my name is Heidi Schneigansz and I’m a twitterholic. Just call me Snowgoose. I’m on a mission to convert ordinary people into geeks ... Welcome to my blog.”
Although Heidi admits she only started her blog last year because “I was unsure” she now appreciates the space it offers to express oneself and thinks everyone should have one.
The former digital designer for Standard Bank, Schneigansz is now working as a marketing producer for the leading full-service digital agency, Quirk eMarketing.
With a diploma in graphic design and a certificate in marketing management, she also added a Cape Wine diploma in wine and wine-making to her list of qualifications which, she says, “really helped a lot more than I though it would.”—Karabo Keepile
Lunch spot: Browns, Rivonia, Johannesburg
Anthony Pascoe, Steve Porter and Tom Eaton; founders; Hayibo.com
Who can forget their memorable headlines “Gautrain construction devastating Gauteng Gummi Bear Communities”, “Bitter and disillusioned Liewe Heksie packing for Perth” or “Zille to send army after taxis, then hairstylist and dance instructor”?
Anthony Pascoe lived in London for three years, where he worked for a content syndication company and returned to South Africa in 2005 to co-found Sunday Media with Steve Porter, which syndicated global sports news. In January 2008, they partnered with Tom Eaton, a former columnist for the Mail & Guardian, to start Hayibo.com: “South Africa’s second best source of satirical news after the SABC”, which became an instant online hit.
With about 20 writers on the website churning out hysterical news coverage every day, the readership of Hayibo has a growth of almost 40% a month and was viewed by 75 000 unique users last month alone.—Eamon Allan
Lunch spot: Arnold’s, Cape Town