‘Do all you can to keep the fire burning’ – Njabulo Makhathini

Updated on 12 February 2015

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'Do all you can to keep the fire burning' - Njabulo Makhathini Company Profile 
Name of company: Booster Energy
Years in existence: 9 months
Position: Chief Operations Officer and co-founder with Njabulo Mtshali who is CEO

Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional
I am from Vosloorus, a township in Ekhurhuleni. It all began in high school when we started selling t-shirts. That’s when the entrepreneurship bug got the best of me. I then went on to work in the importing and exporting industry. Although I was employed, I knew that the time would come when I would be a fulltime entrepreneur. In 2011 I started my own thing.

I am also completing a BCom degree specialising in Entrepreneurship with Unisa. I am a Branson Centre and a SEED Engine alumni.

Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?  
Booster Energy PTY LTD is the first local brand of power cases, smartphone cover and cases that can charge your phone wirelessly. To put it simply, a Booster is the most portable and mobile way to charge on the go.

Instead of having just an ordinary phone cover, with a Booster you get a phone cover that can charge your phone as well. This means there no need to walk around with your wall charger and cables anymore.

We are a company that wants to innovate in the mobile energy space. The Booster is the first of many products we will be releasing. We will also be bringing out a mobile charger in a few months, which is a Booster that can charge your laptop.

“Most of the time entrepreneurs don’t research the viability of the idea because they are too consumed by the excitement of the idea”

How did your journey begin and how have you achieved success so far?
Although the company was only formally established a little less than a year ago, we have been working on this invention for about three years now. In that time were mostly doing research after we had identified the problem we wanted to solve.

It is never a easy journey, especially starting a tech company. Through hard work and God’s grace we made it this far.

We have worked with companies such as Standard Bank and the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) which was great for our portfolio. A recent highlight was having the great Richard Branson purchase a Booster on his last visit to the country last year December.

What is the overall vision for your business?
We want to be the leader in providing mobile energy solutions on the African continent.

How many people do you currently employ? 
One of our sales strategies is to get driven young stars to be Booster sales agents. They will be able to make money for themselves by selling Boosters in the markets that they have identified. And in that way we will be able to create jobs. We currently have five sales agents working with us and two more who are permanent employees.

How did you finance your business, how easy or difficult was the process?
We self-funded the research and minimum viable product (MVP) part of the business. Once we had done that we were able to attract venture capital for seed funding to get the project off the ground. Before trying to get funding, it’s key to have your story straight.

 “When the challenges come and things are not going great, the
only thing you have is that fire”

When did you realise you were an entrepreneur?
It was after the branded t-shirt venture back in high school. Even after that, I knew that this is was the space I wanted to be in.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I lead by example, I believe there is nothing that inspires the people that you work with more than that.

What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today? 
1. Research, research research. Most of the time entrepreneurs don’t research the viability of the idea because they are too consumed by the excitement of the idea.

2. Test your assumption about the need that you believe your idea is fulfilling, and develop your business with constant engagement with your target market. This is to avoid building for year, launching, and finding out that your assumption wasn’t entirely correct. This is one of the the principles that Eric Ries preaches in his book The Lean Startup.

3. Do all you can to keep the fire burning. When the challenges come and things are not going great, the only thing you have is that fire. Always remember how awesome your brand is, the difference it will make in people’s life, and how it will change the world.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? 
Someone once told me “don’t let your entrepreneurial endeavours be very far from your passion”.

And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
I just believe in hard work.

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