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Mike Scott – co-founder, Nona Creative

‘A big focus at the moment is trying to get into overseas markets’.

MORGAN BARNARD: Hello and welcome to the Moneyweb podcast, today on the line with me is Mike Scott, one of the five founders of Nona Creative. Nona Creative is another one of the companies that incubator initiative, Grindstone, will be backing in the years to follow. Mike, let’s start with how your company began and what it is all about.

MIKE SCOTT: Sure, Nona Creative was founded almost exactly three years ago. The main reason we started the business, we come from different backgrounds, specifically I come from a traditional technical background, we saw an opportunity in the industry to service clients with good delivery. It’s a very big industry but the delivery is quite poor, so we started it off the back of a traditional technical company and it’s just been growing from strength to strength, and we’re very, very happy and very excited to be in this space.

MORGAN BARNARD: What are your plans for growing Nona Creative?

MIKE SCOTT: We’ve got a few plans, different verticals, one of the big focuses at the moment is trying to get into the overseas markets. We absolutely do not want to ignore South Africa but I’ve just come back from a trip to Sydney where we were exploring strategic partnerships there and that was very lucrative and very positive. We’ve got a scheduled trip to the UK quite soon and then hopefully we want to get into the Nordics as well. So our plans really are to continue in South Africa but also to open ourselves up to those three specific markets, there is a big need in those markets and we feel that we can fill those needs as well as their local providers.

MORGAN BARNARD: You are based in Cape Town?

MIKE SCOTT: We only have offices in Cape Town but we have a very short…let’s say, target to have a Joburg presence within the next few months. We’re quite lucky in that we can pretty much work from anywhere in the world as long as we have the right contacts. So we’ll probably set up a satellite office in Joburg just with one or two people but we definitely want to keep our development resources in Cape Town where we started.

MORGAN BARNARD: Where do you see Nona Creative and yourself in a year from now and then let’s go further to where you guys see yourselves in three years from now?

MIKE SCOTT: I think where do we see ourselves in a year from now, well, it’s very aligned with those same growth goals, so a year from now we definitely want to have at least one or two strategic partnerships set up overseas. I think in three years from now we would like to see a large percentage of our revenue generated from across the borders. That from the point of growth side, in terms of people, which is really our focus, our real difficulty but also our strength, which is a bit of a contradiction, is our people. We have very, very, very highly skilled staff and they’re fantastic people and we work very, very hard at developing those people. So in one year from now we would have liked to probably have grown our team by 40%, in three years from now I have absolutely no idea. That’s one of the reasons why we are with Grindstone, we have various ideas of where we want to be but I suspect that through the process of Grindstone we’ll articulate that a lot more.

MORGAN BARNARD: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs in South Africa?

MIKE SCOTT: At the risk of repeating pretty much what everyone always says, for us it’s quite defined, it’s access to funding, access to mentorship and access to skills. In our particular case we didn’t have a funding problem, we were lucky enough to start off with a group of co-founders with very, very high skill levels and we’ve also been quite lucky in that we’ve got a pretty big mentorship network. But looking back, and I guess looking forward as well, but looking back specifically, if we didn’t have access to those mentors and that skillset initially it just wouldn’t have been an opportunity, there just wouldn’t have been anything there. Through a lot of these programmes that we attend we see a lot of people with great ideas but they don’t have access to those three things, which just makes it almost impossible to get going.

MORGAN BARNARD: We have recently seen that iKubu, another one of Grindstone’s companies, has been sold to Garmin, what role do you see Grindstone playing in your business?

MIKE SCOTT: We definitely haven’t joined Grindstone with the view to get gobbled up and bought, that’s definitely not what our strategy is at the moment. So I think when Keet and Andrea asked us what we wanted out of the programme it sort of comes back to the mentorship thing. We’re always looking to learn from people, these guys have got a great track record, we’re looking for sound advice and guidance on really fine-tuned execution and operations. We’re looking to add to our ever-expanding network, that’s really a very valuable thing that they bring. Sure, if the conversation starts at some point about us getting acquired or however it might work in the industry they’re definitely the best people to have on your side of the boardroom table if that conversation ever begins. 

MORGAN BARNARD: What is your number one tip for entrepreneurs?

MIKE SCOTT: So this is a personal answer, I can’t say I speak for all my
co-founders but it’s really disciplined execution. Again, you see a lot of guys with really good ideas but not fantastic disciplined action and disciplined execution. So you can be very creative and you can be very dynamic and agile but if you don’t have disciplined execution it’s very unlikely you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur.

MORGAN BARNARD: That was Mike Scott, co-founder of Nona Creative.

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