Category Archives: Founder

Deshnie Govender

Deshnie Govender

Name: Deshnie Govender

Designation: Creative Director

Company: iVENT

What do you do every day? No two days are the same in digital but essentially I work with brands, agencies and influencers. From strategy and content creation to post production – engaging and authentic content is my key focus.

How did you get into the tech space? It found me! Starting out as a DJ I needed my music to be heard and social media was the easiest (and free) platform that allowed me to connect with others in seconds. When I realised social media and influencer management could become actual careers, I leveraged off my experience in music to start up my consultancy.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Do what you love and never work a day in your life. I can honestly say that I love what I do and, notwithstanding stressful days, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Start with your own platforms. What do your social media accounts look like and what is the frequency of your content? Hands-on experience is the best way to start so I would suggest job shadowing or interning at a digital agency. Trust me, this is the environment that will show you how fast paced this industry can be.

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? My company, iVent. I am deeply passionate about what I do and never do anything half-heartedly. My work ethos dictates that my dedication and commitment – not just to my clients, influencers whom I collaborate with and projects that I run – are given 150% of my effort. There is no such thing as sleeping in for me!

What do you want to be when you grow up? I’d like to become a better version of me ☺

Expanding my offices in the UK and America, showing that market what our local influencer offering is like and collaborating on projects. We need to be the first to market, not the last option.

Blog: www.ivent.co.za
Linkedin: https://za.linkedin.com/in/deshnie

Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Name: Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Designation: Technical Director / Co-founder

Company: Viga Interactive, Taggo, Boulot

What do you do every day? I hustle. My days vary considerably, some days I’m swamped with admin and strategy meetings, some days I’m in back to back usability tests, other days I just code or create architecture, but every day I manage a team and client’s projects.

How did you get into the tech space? I started my career in the graphic design industry. Even while studying I wasn’t convinced of this weird exotic thing called coding, but one day I was asked to develop a website instead of just designing it, and so I started coding. I started my first registered company at 25, unfortunately it failed just over a year later. The failure of my first business resulted in a knock to my confidence, from which it took a while to recover from. When I started my next company, however, I was a lot more knowledgeable, stronger and wiser.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Stay humble. As entrepreneurs we have to be confident, sometimes even arrogant, so it is difficult to remain humble all the time. When I succeed in staying humble it keeps me honest, grateful, and makes me a better listener. All of which tends to come in handy in the big bad world of business.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Never stop learning. Things move fast in the tech space and you need to stay up to date and relevant, when it comes to new technology and trends.

Another essential piece of advice I would give is to create rock solid specification documents. Because there are always issues around communication, a good spec can avoid misunderstandings.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The possibility of a game changer. Every day I’m excited about the prospects that particular day can bring, you never know what’s around the corner and how it can make your business a success.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I love being an entrepreneur. Yes, it is extremely difficult and sometimes I think I must be crazy. The reason I keep pushing is that someday when I’m all grown up I can look back and say it was all worth it, I helped build some really cool stuff.

Twitter: @VIGAInteractive
LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-bezuidenhout-26484235

Prudence Spratt

Name: Prudence Spratt

Prudence Spratt

Designation: MD / Founder

Company:  Spratt Digital Consulting

What do you do every day? Running a small business I do a little bit of everything, I meet with clients, project manage work in progress, execute on tasks and do all of the admin that comes with running a business.

How did you get into the tech space? I think I was born into it.

I was born in the 80s and at the time my mom was a computer trainer when PCs first came out so there was always a PC in my house and I loved being on the computer.

When my mom was pregnant with me she met Bill Gates at a trade show in Sydney so in some way I think I was meant to get into tech – that and the fact that I started coding websites when I was 14.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? To take accounting to Gr12. It helped with my further education and work after school immensely.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Follow your passion – find the sector of tech that you like the most because when you love what you do the other parts of your job that you don’t like become much easier to deal with.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? My great team and the ability to work with them on exciting projects and with awesome people. That and if I don’t get up and feed my dogs they will probably eat my couch.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A grown up version of myself…

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SprattSA
Website:  www.spratt.co.za
LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/prudencespratt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SprattConsulting
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SprattCoZa/posts

Imogen Wright

Name: Imogen Wright

Imogen Wright

Designation: Co-founder

Company: Hyrax Biosciences

What do you do every day? My days are pretty varied.  My PhD was in bioinformatics, so sometimes I’ll be lucky enough to spend hours just reading papers and learning about new developments in biology.  I also spend time talking to lawyers and potential business partners, and doing some of the other admin associated with co-founding a startup.

Hyrax Biosciences builds online tools that analyse the DNA of viruses and bacteria to look for drug resistance. This means that we can help doctors prescribe the right drugs to patients with HIV, TB and other communicable diseases, at a cost that makes these tests available to all patients, not just the wealthy ones.  My co-founders and colleagues are all fantastic people, and we spend a lot of time dreaming together.

Mostly, though, I spend my time writing code that analyses DNA.  Because modern DNA sequencing machines produce huge quantities of data, this code has to be really efficient.  We use a lot of high-performance computing and cloud computing to get the job done.  I have a great excuse to play with new, exciting tech tools all the time, which is so much fun.

How did you get into the tech space? I was one of those kids who liked to press buttons right from the beginning. I started learning to write code at twelve years old or so, because I loved playing open source games online and wanted to contribute to making them.

I was very lucky in that I grew up in a small town, Grahamstown, with a real over-concentration of geeky people and a strong Linux and open source culture.  As such, when my teenage years hit and the social pressure to stop messing around with computers was strong, I already had great friendships with guys and girls, mostly older than me, who loved tech.  Thus, I could keep learning.

Then I studied computer science and physics at Rhodes, did a masters in physics in Canada and started working as a software developer after that.  The passion for biology followed a few years later, and here we are!

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?  One of my favourite lecturers at Rhodes, Pat Terry, gave me a great piece of advice in my first year there.  I was dithering about subject choices, and he told me that the real key to success is to pick just one thing – anything – and stick with it, no matter what.

Of course, I jumped around in the science faculty and singularly failed to take his advice (sorry Pat), but the grit, resolve and persistence he was trying to teach have been a powerful guide during the trickier passages of my life.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?  The only thing needed to get into tech is to write good code. The only way to learn to write good code is to practise – I’m talking literally thousands of hours of practise. The best way to practise is to play around with open source software, and eventually to build your own projects. However, I’d advise against trying to learn to code. Try instead to build a piece of software you really want to build, and let learning to code be a means to that end.

Then just start interviewing. There are so many more jobs than developers that if you’ve followed the above steps it’s hard to go wrong. The only caveat is that if you’re anything other than a straight, able-bodied, cisgendered white man, there might still be companies where it’s intrinsically harder to succeed: learn to trust yourself, and learn to avoid those companies – I have, mostly, and I believe their days are numbered, anyway.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The healthcare options available to the middle class in developed nations are so inaccessible to the rest of humanity that the two groups might as well exist on different planets. I get out of bed for the woman in a rural area who feels sick today and doesn’t know why, because she’s resistant to her HIV medication and it was too expensive to do a resistance test at the clinic. That woman shouldn’t be sick when we have the technology to keep her healthy, and it’s my joy and my passion to make that technology accessible.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I hope I’ll still be myself – I like myself.  If I can’t be myself I’d like to be Eddie Vedder, which would admittedly require becoming significantly cooler than I currently am and also being able to sing.

Twitter: @imogenwright                                                                                                                   Website: http://hyraxbio.co.za
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/imogenwright

Lisa Lyhne

Name: Lisa Lyhne

Lisa Lyhne

Lisa Lyhne

Designation: Managing Director

Company: Jump Software

What do you do every day? My business, Jump Software, works as a tech-co-founder to startups. I love the energy and faith in the startup world. I also love the disruption that is possible through technology. Tech startups deserve the best possible systems to meet their early and growing businesses, and often it’s their tech that fails, rather than their business ideas. At Jump Software, we partner with founders to build flexible solutions to meet their technical needs. Keeping their larger business strategies in mind, we create, extend and maintain software solutions which power our partners’ businesses.

On a daily basis I work on projects with my very capable tech team to deliver on our promises to our founders. I also meet with many folk in the startup networks – founders, funders, accelerators, incubators and the like, to secure new sales for my business.

I also do a fair bit of consulting as a software development mentor. I work for Microsoft in their Bizspark programme, mentoring their startups, as well as for other startup businesses. In these sessions I work with founders to improve their software development processes, as well as define and refine their business offerings.

How did you get into the tech space? I was really lucky. I did a BCom (IT) at university, and was sent on a year’s student exchange to Copenhagen in Denmark. I was meant to spend six months in the IT department, and move to the accounting department for the next six months. After the first six months I asked to stay in the IT department, which was agreed. That was 1986 – and I’ve worked in IT ever since.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Don’t worry about doing it right – just do it and back yourself to get it right. Carry on and on and on. It is the determined that win, not the brilliant!

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Most importantly, get educated. There is no substitute for a thorough, formal (preferably university) education. There is soooo much to learn, and you will only ever scratch the surface if you try to do this via personal exposure. If this is not feasible, try to find your way into a position that will support your education while you work.

Then, get working. Work for a tech company if you are looking for a variety of experience. Cleave to the better skilled of your colleagues and learn-learn-learn-learn. Read widely.

As a woman, know that you’ll need to be pushy. Women are not given the prime opportunities. Even now, we are paid about two-thirds of what men earn in the same position. (Unfortunately I know this from personal experience. It has been the case for me, a pushy woman, for my whole career (even as a director). Now that I am the boss, maybe it’ll change!

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? I am really energised by my new business. The startup space is vibrant and optimistic, and I love the idea of getting dreams off the ground.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I want to grow businesses (my client-founders and my own) and grow veggies in my back garden.

Twitter: @LisaLyhne
Website: www.JumpSoftware.co.za
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AAMAAABi8n4BE3divLa0mBT_qpbCuFR3rmQxd10&trk=hp-identity-name

Darlene Menzies

Darlene Menzies, TDH/SMEasy

Darlene Menzies, TDH/SMEasy

Name: Darlene Menzies

Companies and Designation: The Development House (TDH) – Founder and Chairman, SMEasy Business Software Pty Ltd – Founder and CEO

What do you do every day? Team role – leader and innovator. I run a business that develops simple scalable software solutions that address gaps in the small business market. I enjoy the risk and challenge involved in taking an idea from concept to commercialisation – going from initial ideation and market research to product design, the development of a minimal viable product, market piloting to demonstrate early user traction and then raising venture capital to fund product commercialisation. In terms of my role in the team I am the ideas person, the team leader as well as the product evangelist. I love my job.

How did you get into the tech space? I started work as a bank teller and got involved in the bank’s IT division through my interest in helping test new IT systems that were being implemented in the bank at the time. I was moved to the regional IT division in KZN in the late eighties, there were no ladies in the division at the time. I worked in corporate IT for 15 years before starting my own software development business in 2004.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? If you don’t totally love what you’re doing stop doing it, immediately…then do everything you can to get started doing what you are passionate about. This one decision will change your whole life.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I encourage them to do it, it’s the future, the opportunities are endless. I tell them they have to be prepared to work hard, very hard. If they are starting a tech business I usually tell them to be prepared to make big sacrifices and take massive risks, the rewards down the road will far outweigh the sacrifices in the early years. Also that the key to success and growth is your team. If you focus on building your team, your team will build your business.

For people who ask me if I have any particular advice for women wanting to get in tech – I tell them to forget about gender and just do what they are gifted to do and passionate about, that is what will ensure their success. It’s not about gender, it’s about ability, timing, hard work and a bit of luck!

What motivates you to get out of bed every day? I totally LOVE what I do; I would do it even if I didn’t get paid. I wake up on a Saturday and Monday feeling equally excited about the day ahead.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A mix of Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep and Katy Perry… LOL. I think all these ladies are incredible in their own fields! Seriously, I want to be me but with loads more money; I would like to be able to make the kind of social and economic impact that someone like Melinda Gates is making. It’s a privilege to be able to change people’s lives.

LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/darlenemenzies
Twitter: https://twitter.com/darlenemenzies / https://twitter.com/thedevhouse

Lorraine Steyn

Lorraine Steyn, KRS

Lorraine Steyn, KRS

Name: Lorraine Steyn

Designation: Simplifier-in-Chief

Company: Khanyisa Real Systems (Pty) Ltd

What do you do every day? I solve problems – mostly on behalf of clients, and by bringing together great tech, business insight and skilled people.

How did you get into the tech space? I’ve been a software developer since 1978, first at school, and then as a career. I’ve worked on old mainframes to the latest web and mobile technology, and I still love it.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Be willing to learn, even if accepting feedback is hard.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? I’d want to motivate more women to enter the technology sector. It’s not all about geeky gamers – it’s a creative field with scope for a wide variety of skills including business, statistics, design and code, and good people skills are just as essential as problem solving abilities.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The alarm clock and the school run – I’m really not a morning person.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I’m really happy where I am at present. I have a fantastic company, I work with great people, and I’m old enough to not worry what other people think of me!

Find me on:
Twitter: @lor_krs
Personal Blog: http://beingrealblog.wordpress.com/
Business Blog: http://www.krs.co.za/blog/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/lorraine-steyn/11/761/4a6

Leigh-Ann Fowle

Leigh-Ann Fowle, Girl Geek Dinners & The Written Word

Leigh-Ann Fowle, Girl Geek Dinners & The Written Word

Name: Leigh-Ann Fowle

Designation: Copywriter, Content Creator

Company: Girl Geek Dinners and The Written Word

What do you do every day? My day job is as a copywriter. Basically, I create content for clients, the majority of which is for digital channels. My passion project is Girl Geek Dinners, which I run together with my partner Kirsty Sharman. Girl Geeks is a networking event for women in tech.

How did you get into the tech space? When I started freelancing, I was looking for networking opportunities for women in tech and I just couldn’t find any! I found out about Girl Geeks and I started the JHB branch in 2011. Girl Geeks is a worldwide phenomenon, with chapters in 99 cities.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? That you can do whatever you put your mind to doing, provided that you are willing to work hard. Some of the most talented people I know didn’t start off in the career that they ended up in.

What advice would you give someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Go for it! It is an exciting industry with great growth potential and new things happening every single day. And build up your network – it’s important.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? Knowing that I get to create content for some inspiring brands and the opportunity to learn on a daily basis.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A superhero, one that has it all!

Find me on:
Twitter: @leighfowle
Blog: girlgeeksofjhb.co.za
Website: www.thewrittenword.co.za
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=99770427&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile