In recent years, South Africa has seen the rise of entrepreneurs and side hustlers. The high rate of unemployment, the growing need for an extra income and innovative young people are leading to many starting their own businesses or side projects. Unfortunately, lack of financial support, faulty infrastructures and unsuccessful marketing activities cause many small businesses to fail within the first two years. However, with the right guidance, ambition and marketing initiatives, including the resources to take your business online, many are highly successful.
Reece Meyer is a young entrepreneur who has turned his passion for technology into a successful small business, MyBru, a mobile application. He has embraced the rise of online services, including social media marketing, to not only establish his local business but to grow it.
Building a website for a small business
Reece has built a successful online presence for his business. Now, he is taking on the challenge to help another South African business, LU JACK, reach a bigger local audience by creating a website for them. LU JACK is a brokerage specialising in the sale and leasing of real estate in the Western Cape. A website will act as a highly effective tool for growing their business, targeting a specific audience and increasing leads and sales.
In a short interview with 1-grid, Reece shares his experiences, his work process, the challenges he faces and his future goals.
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a proudly South African tech entrepreneur and co-founder of MyBru App. I love all things brand and tech-related and have a special passion for entrepreneurship and startups. I was fortunate enough to study copywriting at Vega in Cape Town and was mentored by some amazing lecturers who always knew how to bring out the best in me.
After working on the concept of MyBru App for about eight months, we secured investment and I decided to put my degree on hold to pursue my journey as an entrepreneur. Fast forward two years, after plenty of speed bumps, setbacks and testing, we launched MyBru App in Cape Town and trended in the top 10 Food and Drinks App in the South African App Store and Top 2 in the South Africa Play Store, competing with the likes of Starbuck SA, Uber Eats, Steers SA and MR D Food to name a few.
Currently, we are in the final stages of completing the development of MyBru App 2.0 for Android which is scheduled for a phased roll-out to users in early October, with the new IOS build to follow soon after.
When did you decide that you wanted to be an entrepreneur and not just work a nine-to-five?
I grew up in a household where my parents always encouraged my twin sister and me to work hard, question things, follow our passion, find a way to monetise it, be able to do it anywhere in the world and call it “a job”. The concept of working a 9 – 5 just didn’t appeal to me as it wouldn’t allow me to tick all of the above boxes. Entrepreneurship is not as glamorous as some might perceive it to be. It’s mentally and physically taxing and often requires me to sacrifice a few things and work 12 to 16 hours a day. But I do it with a smile on my face (most of the time) because I get to wake up every morning, do what I love and call it a job.
Tell us more about the MyBru App. When did you come up with the idea and how has the journey been so far?
MyBru App was conceptualised in early 2015 with one of my copywriting classmates at the time. While everyone else was enjoying the nightlife scene in Cape Town, we would be on campus, working on the concept until they closed the campus around 11 pm. We did this for a few months until we had what we believed was a pitch that was ready for investors.
In a nutshell, MyBru App is a premium mobile platform that allows brands to connect with interested users who are actively looking for food, drinks, retail and entertainment specials/promotions in and around their current location in real-time. With new specials, every single day and integration with established apps such as Uber and Google Maps, MyBru App provides its users with the best possible user experience for both IOS and Android.
With an organic, monthly online reach of 41 000 and an average of over 19 000 users engaging with brands specials on the app, MyBru App is the ideal platform for brands to reach interested consumers at their convenience.
The journey thus far has been a rollercoaster as the evolution of technology moves at a rapid pace and waits for no company to catch-up. You either pivot with the times or get left behind. This has forced us to remain agile as a business and to keep on pushing boundaries with the resources we have available at the time.
As an entrepreneur, what would you say are the most important tools that can help you succeed?
There are a variety of tools that can assist you in running a successful and profitable business and these will vary from industry to industry, however, there are a few universal ones that I think are vital to running a business in the 21st century. Most of it has to do with your online and digital presence such as:
- Building a website for your business that drives traffic to your product or service offering.
- Good website SEO so potential and existing customers can find you online.
- An SSL certificate to protect your website and everyone viewing the site.
- Social media accounts to connect with your audience, drive traffic to your product or service and keep customers engaged with your brand. Also, to gain consumer insights and build a relationship with them (Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / WhatsApp Business / LinkedIn page).
- An agile digital strategy that’s customer-centric and has a strong brand backbone.
- Some form of customer data and analytics to help you better understand how your business can add more value and improve the lives of your customers.
Would you say that pursuing something in the digital or tech sphere is the way forward?
100%, I think the companies and brands that have shown an early adoption to tech within their setup have already started to see the ROI in an economy that has proven to be very tough to survive in as of late. Technology should be used to add value, simplify and improve our day to day lives and not further complicate it.
South Africa is still flagged as an emerging market and there is still plenty of user education that will take place in the months to come where we will see the adoption and implementation of more and more tech solutions. I think it’s an exciting time to be in the tech space if you’re up for a challenge and a few grey hairs.
What keeps you motivated as an entrepreneur, especially during tough times?
I could break it down into the following points: your support network, your mentors, your team and your purpose.
Having a good support network around me that’s always just a text or call away and having good mentors that keep me accountable and motivate me to always improve, keep me pushing forward.
Consulting more experienced and seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors who have been through similar struggles have helped me navigate the tough times and make some tough decisions.
Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to and you must surround yourself with a team who supports you as much as you support them.
Lastly, there are always going to be times where things are going well and there will be times where the going gets tough but your purpose and drive to do what you do will keep you going. Without purpose, it’s very easy to feel defeated and throw in the towel.
Any advice for young people wanting to start their own ventures in South Africa?
- Go for it, there is no better time than the present.
- Provide value by solving a problem and figure out a way to monetise it.
- Be sure to do your due diligence in terms of market and competitor research when in the early stages of ideation to ensure you have a good understanding of the landscape before jumping in.
- Build a good team because you can’t do everything yourself, you will burn out.
- If possible, allow data to drive your solution as good data never lies and will save you time and money by eliminating “what you think will work” or “what you think people need”.
- Don’t be afraid to fail and learn along the way. Thomas A. Edison failed 10 000 times before inventing the light bulb.
Finally, where can we follow you online?
You can connect with me on Instagram at @_reecemeyer or on LinkedIn.
Using the right online tools can power your small business in South Africa quickly. Building a website should be on top of your list! Start today.