#SouthAfrica startup working to be agents of change

Updated on 16 September 2014

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#SouthAfrica startup working to be agents of change


Company name: Hashtag South Africa 

Hashtag South Africa is an social media agency that helps brands, products and services grow their social media presence or as they describe themselves, they are online noise makers.

Hashtag, works with companies to give them an opportunity to add to the online conversation about their respective brands. Their biggest brand to date is South Africa.

It’s founder, Conrad Travis David, tells us how he started out with a startup budget of R100 to where he is today.

I started #SouthAfrica as a unified approach to add to the online conversation about South Africa. I read the National Development Plan in 2011 – it was a 444 page draft plan from government on the direction that both government and citizens had to take. Many digital companies out there are focused on brands, while few focus on the biggest brand that matters the most – our country.

I noticed that the conversation about South Africa was negative, based on what the media was reporting. So I took the step to start #SouthAfrica as a unified approach to add to the conversation of South Africa.

It’s quite a big task but we’re two years into working towards our goal to have South Africa known, globally, for its products and services by 2030.

We are 20 years into freedom and South Africans must spend less time complaining about what we don’t have and what we want. We need to start to work with the little resources presented.

We as South African have achieved quite a lot in these short years. We can just settle with the current standards or rise up and come up with solutions. Be agents of change rather than accept the status quo.

“Banks never seem to be there when you need them. Institutions for development often don’t understand the metrics of what we do and rule us as ‘High Risk'”

I borrowed R100 from my mom to create a website and found three clients that helped me cover my living expenses. Two years later we have a team of five in our three departments: social media, cloud computing and fibre communications.

If you’re an entrepreneur and expecting to only make it based on having access to funding, you have to change your perspective and hustle.

Banks, no matter how senior the official, never seem to be there when you need them. Institutions for development often don’t understand the metrics of what we do and rule us as “high risk”. Yet if this business was based in the US, the issue of access would be different. I focus very little on what I would do if I had access to finance, and focus more on what I have and make do with it.

My first company was a cleaning chemical business. Very arbitrary – I know. I had little knowledge about the industry but I applied my marketing and branding skills which fueled my passion of digital. I moved from Cape Town to Durban in 2010 so without knowing much about the business world in Durban. My chemical business helped me build relationships in the business world.

“Be agents of change rather than accept the status quo”

I Studied marketing and advertising at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, although I did not complete my diploma. I dropped out in my 3rd year, to start my corporate career. It would of been cool to complete it, but I learnt more in six months out of varsity than the three years I spent as a student. This approach of real world education shaped my mind to a new level. I still study to this day, from books and through mentorship – you can never stop learning.

What I would have done differently is spent less time with time wasters. If people do not understand your vision and dreams, leave and move to a space that will accept you.

David’s advice for entrepreneurs:

  • Don’t try and do everything! Work your time and focus on the task at hand. Use your calendar to even manage the smallest of tasks, until you master your time.
  • No man is an island. Find a mentor and set to meet with them monthly.
  • Remember to reward yourself monthly. From taking yourself to dinner or buying a new gadget, if there’s little joy to your work and passion then what’s the point of your journey.
  • Remember to always seek advice in the spiritual realm. God created you in his image.

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