Nhlakanipho Shange | AD.IT Solutions
As the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme celebrates its tenth anniversary, the project is looking back at some of the amazing success stories to come out of the competition. This is the story of 2013 competitor, Nhlakanipho Shange, the owner of AD.IT Solutions, an outdoor media and marketing agency.
I grew up in Umlazi, Durban and started my career studying medicine at UCT. While I was deciding whether I wanted to continue my studies, I flew down to Cape Town to conduct a feasibility study for a low-cost bakery. On the flight I saw those dropdown screens and thought it would be a great idea to put something like that in taxis. During my stay in Cape Town, the idea kept haunting me and that’s when I decided to go back to Durban and pursue it.
When we started with taxi TV, we thought funding was the biggest problem but actually this wasn’t as much of a challenge as finding the right clients. I now believe that, as an entrepreneur, the money will come but that convincing the client to use your services is the key. In the beginning, we were in a space where we had no relationships and this is incredibly important in building a business.
I was helping out a friend with his business in 2013 when we came across flyers advertising the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme. At the last minute, I decided to enter.
The experience was fantastic! I learned so much that it’s hard to pick out just one lesson … Something important I learned was not to romanticise your business idea or its prospects. You need to be realistic about its prospects, the numbers and everything that goes into building it. Everything I learned during the programme has played an important part in building my business. It helped me to think more clearly about what I was setting out to do.
Since starting up, the business has gone through so much – both good and bad. We’re currently coming back from a bit of a dip after a few years of incredible growth. (At one point we were growing 560% year on year but that sort of growth is unusual and not sustainable.)
Resilience is definitely high up on the list of personal characteristics you need to be an entrepreneur. I don’t believe any entrepreneur can succeed without resilience because the path is not smooth. You need a deep conviction in what you’re pursuing so you can get up every day and do what you have to do. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted and that’s a fact!
I definitely recommend that anyone who is running their own business or thinking of starting one up participate in the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme. It opens your mind to a variety of possibilities for any business.
I would like to thank Engen for giving me the opportunity and, even more, for supporting my business. Without them and their support, my story would literally be non-existent. After pitching an idea in 2013, I am now one of the suppliers to the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme and have been for the past four years. To Nedbank, you have been my bank for every step of my entrepreneurial journey. I am so grateful to you both!
Visit www.pitchandpolish.com for more information or to register for the 2019 ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshops and competition.
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