Posted on July 7, 2013
I have a passion for electronics and I say this having never actually taken anything apart.
But I love conceptionally playing with ideas and connecting the dots. Three months before Startup Weekend (SW,) I found myself standing at a technological retailer looking at a USB charger and an MP3 speaker and thinking: if you join these together you get a smartphone button station, then I completely forgot about the idea till SW, when I pitched it as a business idea.
Cable & Grain is a business whose aim is to focus on uplifting the handcraft industry from static to functional pieces relevant in digital modern lifestyle. As the winner of the first SW (a global entrepreneurship organisation that hosts events which empower entrepreneurs by transforming an idea into a business within 56 hours) to be held in Africa, I witnessed the public’s expectations for my business grow more and more after being featured on GQ Magazine twice as an entrepreneur to watch.
I came out of school thinking that I wanted to study science, but almost two degrees later (economic honours, and another in natural physics) and with still other interests of taking up languages, the entrepreneurial bug caught up with me. Halfway through the year at the end of my second degree, a friend of mine invited me to Start-up Weekend. Then I thought to myself I have always said I know a lot of the business world, and I am quite smart, and would like to prove myself, so I showed up with the intentions to win, and got quite lucky and actually won. I’m always one of those people who will read two or three articles or different opinions and then try to cross connect them and say, here you have a good idea, but here you don’t… [so] why don’t you guys join these two ideas together? Once you start connecting the dots, it’s a very short leap to say I could be the person to join those dots. Thus for me, entrepreneurship, is a platform where people have the opportunity to engage with information, source a solution, then go forward and do it: a simple formula which has proven itself in my life. .
Reflecting back on the first African SW, first events always have a precedent to set, which means it doesn’t [sic] run as normal – so people have nothing to expect. But [given that] the brand cache has been running in the US for a while I thought they probably have a formula to follow, so I was fairly confident that it would work. That being said, if it weren’t for the initiative itself, I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur. The goal was to get a nice corporate job build up some cash reserves, and then if I had an idea that really took me, I would maybe retire then give that a go. So that was a long term plan. But then SW came at a point where I was about to finish my second degree – I wasn’t at a point where I would need to study more to get the qualifications I need for the job I want one day, so I thought, well now is a safe time to give it a go.
A lot has changed as the company has grown because I have had to constantly consider my business model and revise it. The seed was that you could make a smartphone docking station out of the shelf components. Through time, in the development of the company’s products, I then realised that what makes a docking station isn’t necessarily the quality of the internals (because mp3s are sort of standard in their quality) but rather [what sells] is the coolness of the exterior and the design. We have this massive handcraft industry in South Africa that is very focused on creating a very unique lifestyle product, giving opportunity to many young people to create almost anything.
The worst thing about being an entrepreneur is having people supposedly love your products then turn around and not buy them – If they aren’t cool enough to spend money on them at least tell me what it is I can do to improve so that I can make a sale. But that’s enough complaining for now. There’s more to the story than one or two customers.
My story started as an accident, and, I am glad it did. But do not let that happen to you. Make that idea real!
My name is Erik Brits, i am youngpreneur.