www.colettesymanowitz.com

Perspectives on entrepreneurship, MBA-related issues, networking, personal branding, technology, investing, education and more…


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Starting up: Online or old school?

Start-website

This article was published in the 19-June-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine.

If you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and are deciding to start your own business, one of the key factors you need to consider is whether it should be an online business (website) or a physical bricks and mortar business, and why. What makes online such an attractive option compared to bricks and mortar? In this article, we build a strong business case for an online venture. Continue reading


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When winners are losers: lessons for entrepreneurs

Chris-Poole

This article also appeared in Finweek on 27-Feb-2014

Investors often look at early-stage traction as a key indicator of a start-up’s potential to succeed. Yet despite their sizeable user numbers, success didn’t happen for US start-up Drawquest. Would Drawquest’s impressive stats have translated into success if they had started up in South Africa? And what are the valuable lessons here for entrepreneurs? Continue reading


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Raising funding – learnings from Everlytic

raising-funding+contractThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 14-Nov-2013 issue and online

Raising capital isn’t an easy decision for an entrepreneur. In order to expand rapidly, do you give up equity and control to get the investment you need? Or do you take the slower growth track, where sales fund your company’s growth and you get to keep 100% control of your baby? South African-born software company Everlytic chose to go the funding route. Finweek interviewed managing director Walter Penfold about Everlytic’s recent capital raise and what they learnt from it. Continue reading


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Want to be part of a dynamic co-working space in Sandton, Johannesburg?

If you’re a consultant, entrepreneur, working in a start-up, a student, a freelancer, or a creative, you’ll know what it’s like to feel isolated, unproductive or demotivated in a home-office environment.

A co-working space solves all of these issues. It’s a shared office space where people can work independently but not alone, share ideas, collaborate and work productively while growing our businesses and business networks.

Despite the recent explosion of co-working spaces in South Africa, there just aren’t any in the Sandton, Johannesburg area currently. I’ve approached a number of co-working space operators around South Africa and a few are keen to start one in Sandton, provided there is enough demand here.

If you’re keen to join a co-working space in Sandton (or know someone who is), please let me know by email (colette@mbaconnect.net) by Wed 14-Aug-2013. This will give us a better idea of the demand and how many people a Sandton co-working space would need to accommodate.

What are the benefits of a co-working space?

1. Dynamic, vibey, motivating environment where you can work independently but not alone
2. Network and collaborate with smart, like-minded people
3. Bounce ideas off other people
4. No need to work alone from home anymore
5. Close to home, but not at home
6. Flexible short-term leases (e.g. month-to-month)
7. Low rental costs per month, no long-term commitments that your business cannot afford
8. Rent more or less space as your company grows or downsizes
9. Ideal for consultants, entrepreneurs, MBA students looking for a private space to study, startups, freelancers, creatives, etc.
10. Has all the facilities you need like meeting rooms, wireless hi-speed internet, security, printing, copying, etc.

Thanks for your help. Looking forward to your feedback.
All the best

Colette Symanowitz
colette@mbaconnect.net


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Venture capitalists: do entrepreneurs still need them?

money tree smallThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 11-April-2013 issue

Before World War 2, development capital was limited largely to wealthy individuals and families. It was only in 1946 that venture capital (VC) began to emerge. That year the first two VC companies, American Research and Development Corporation (ARDC) and JH Whitney & Company, were created in the US. Since then, entrepreneurs have pretty much depended on VCs to build high-growth businesses. But that could be changing. With the advent of crowd-funding and the dramatic drop in costs to launch an Internet start-up, do tech entrepreneurs still need VCs? Continue reading


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Cannibalise your business before someone else does

cannibalise.png

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 21-March 2013 issue

Prozac, a breakthrough treatment for depression, is one of the biggest-selling, most profitable medications of all time. Since its launch in 1988, Prozac accounted for US$ 21bn in sales and 34% of Eli Lilly’s revenues in that time. In essence Lilly was the house that Prozac built. However, the US patent for Prozac was coming up for expiry in 2001. Executives at Lilly knew that this would trigger such a huge loss of revenue that 2001 was known throughout the company as “Year X”. So how did Eli Lilly prepare for Year X? In South Africa in 1997, Eli Lilly introduced Lilly Fluoxetine, its own generic version of Prozac. But this would eat into sales of Prozac. Why would Eli Lilly conceivably do such a thing?

Inevitably, markets are cannibalised. As business leaders, we have a choice: we can either cannibalise our own business lines, or we can enable existing or new competitors to cannibalise it for us. With pricey Prozac coming off patent, it was inevitable that other pharmaceutical companies would jump in to claim their share of the very lucrative antidepressant market. Rather than let competitors grab its Prozac market share with generics, Lilly chose to bring out its own generic. The thinking was that Prozac users could be converted to the cheaper, chemically similar Lilly Fluoxetine, rather than to the competitor antidepressants, and this would prevent some of the Prozac fallout. It was a smart strategy and helped Lilly stay in the antidepressant game.

So why should you cannibalise your own business? And what can happen if you don’t? Continue reading


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Is rapid growth bad for your business?

rapid growth graph tech bizThis article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 28-Feb-2013 issue

In 1999, the Webvan Group promised to transform the grocery shopping industry. Thanks to an über-successful IPO and other sources such as venture capitalists, it raised a staggering $1.2bn in start-up capital, rivalling big players like Amazon.com. Fast forward to 2001, when Webvan went bankrupt, barely 18 months later. The cause? It ran out of money.

How is this possible?

When investors inject capital into a business, they want a return on their money. And the expectation is that rapid growth will usually fuel this return. Americans even have an expression for fast-growing firms: “gazelles” are publicly traded companies that have grown at least 20% for each of the previous four years, kicking off with US$ 1m or more in sales.

But sometimes, growing too quickly can actually be bad for business. Continue reading