THUD is the cool and hippy networking platform right now in Johannesburg which has an unconventional mode of making returns. The Hookup Dinner started with Selebogo Molefe aka DrLifesgud and partner, building, selling and renting beam bags to events.
After realizing these events lacked certain basic ingredients so relevant to young South African entrepreneurs, Lifesgud Global Investments begun THUD where they connect, engage and contribute to each others’ successes. For the many startups who continuously attend The Hookup Dinner, it serves as a ‘healing therapy session.’ Corporate South Africa actually buys into these events to market their products and services and THUD has begun moving into other markets in Africa including Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
DrLifesgud shares some entrepreneurial experiences and their successes to inspire young African entrepreneurs.
What is The Hookup Dinner and what is in-store for Africa?
THUD is a South African born fast-rising Pan African entrepreneurship movement built on the back of collaboration. It is about entrepreneurs doing things for themselves through the power of shared networks and resources. We connect, engage and contribute to each others’ success through networking. We have a vision of building a thriving network of 1 million African startups across borders who collaborate and trade successfully.
Having constantly interacted with young entrepreneurs, what are the major ‘sins’ contributing to business failures?
- Self-discipline is by far the biggest challenge.
- Failure to learn from those who have walked the journey before us.
- Lack of focus on the end goal.
What is the preparation towards one successful THUD event like?
It’s as simple as reaching out to a network of like-minded individuals who are focused on their personal & business growth. The rest is easy, find a space to break bread together, whilst having conversations that are focused on contributing positively to the greater network in the room.
The rest are add-ons: such as peer-to-peer elevator pitching, which is meant to help one build confidence of standing in front of people; group speed networking which aims to help attendees increase their network; and guest speakers, who have mastered a key area of their entrepreneurial journey or professionals with key insights that can help the startup community to leverage on that knowledge to accelerate the growth of their enterprises.
All of these are organized by a collaborative team of specialists who are passionate about people, networking and the growth of African local economies.
What tips will you give to event organizers to put together equally successful events?
- Know what you are doing.
- Outsource what you suck at.
- Build a team of specialists.
- Focus on customer experience every step of the way.
- Get your numbers right and operate profitably with integrity.
What will be your top business advice to young African entrepreneurs?
First, master your area of specialty through short courses online and attend workshops & networking events that will fast-track your growth.
Again, ask for help and offer real tangible value that you would be happy to pay for, yourself.
What makes you so passionate about entrepreneurship and why do you think many more Africans should take advantage of it?
Entrepreneurship speaks to free enterprise, it gives us the opportunity to offer value and get paid in order to live a better lifestyle than our parents did.
It also offers us the opportunity to solve 3 key challenges in a developing economy like ours: poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Who are your top 5 most inspiring and successful African entrepreneurs whom you think startups should look up to?
- I love the philosophy of Ugandan, Ashish Thakar. He does business ethically and truly cares about mother Africa and her children.
- I love Strive Masiyiwa’s global mindset and spiritual connectedness. It proves that one can run a business ethically and still succeed. He’s also a great teacher who’s obsessed about passing on knowledge from his experiences in the field.
- I believe Sbu Leope aka DJ Sbu is a young success who continually proves that hardwork, dedication and the spirit of not taking no for an answer can take you far.
- Patrice Motsepe has a social conscience and is leading by example by showing Africans the true spirit of Ubuntu by paying it forward. He’s the first African to commit half of his wealth to the development of people who live below the poverty line.
- Khanyi Dhlomo is a shining example of how to turn your career into a successful enterprise and leverage the power of networks. She also epitomizes the modern successful African woman through humility, depth of knowledge & experience with the key intention of enabling other African women to follow suit!
What are some challenges young African businesses face and what advise will you offer them?
Most young African entrepreneurs are first generation pioneers in their families and therefore lack support from their families when they embark on this journey, which statistically, is a suicide mission almost destined to fail before seeing success, if they don’t give up.
Why should patrons of THUD continue to attend and what is the future outlook of your business?
THUD is all about being connected to: the pulse of entrepreneurship; to a community of like-minded peers; to an ecosystem that enables you as an entrepreneur to gain confidence in the journey you’ve undertaken, whilst learning a lot from others as well as the many interventions that are designed to help accelerate the growth of pre-seed, seed and early-stage enterprises.
What has made The Hookup Dinner such a force to reckon with?
We are a growing story of dreamers kept alive by the prospect of a brighter Africa. We believe in the inter-connectedness of Africans across borders for the purposes of peer-to-peer learning, free trade and cultural exchange with the hope of showing each other just how similar we are and indeed a unified force of young people who will emerge victorious from the shackles of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
You can watch a short video of The Hookup Dinner as featured on CNN African Start-Up.
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