The idea behind the evening was to inform and connect ODs who have had a successful career in forging their own niche in the entrepreneurial landscape with those who have an interest in the undefined industry.
By providing a hands-on approach into how outside of the box ideas can help those who have often been marginalised, the speakers hope to inspire all in attendance.
Adam Pike (1992O), our chairman, opened the evening by highlighting the impact ODs like Mark Shuttleworth have made in South Africa as well as outlining how the mentorship program can contribute to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Template Guru [see video below] was then introduced by Stephen Larkin (1990F). Stephen founded Template Guru with Shakes Motsilili. The initiative has the objective of creating a central hub of templates to help young entrepreneurs. Whether someone needs a business plan or a simple book keeping template, Template Guru looks to supplement this for free.
By crawling the internet for business documents and then converting them into editable templates, Stephen hopes to help those who would traditionally would not have had access to this type of information.
This was followed by Mark Forrester (1999G), an entrepreneurially minded and tech centric creative designer, who gave the Mitre a short yet fascinating insight into his career.
After university and some early entrepreneurial attempts in Cape Town and London, Mark stumbled upon open source web creation tools and a curiosity turned into a passion. Through online learnings and connecting with 2 other like-minded web designers, in opposite corners of the world, they launched WooThemes. The co-founders only met 16 months later. WooThemes later birthed WooCommerce, that has arguably grown to become one of the most popular eCommerce platform for online shopping. It was acquired by Automattic in 2015.
Mark describes himself as an, “early stage investor and start-up advisor, still active in the local Silicon Cape ecosystem.” Former Secretary WP Van Zyl (1997K) spoke of how HeadStart of different ODs making a difference by enabling the under-privileged with entrepreneurial skills.
“HeadStart Trust is focusing on establishing the Elspeth Jack Music Academy in Napier. Motivated to bring about community upliftment, HeadStart applies Entrepreneurial attributes like problem solving, passion driven determination and the skill of sharing, to act as an authentic change agent in a desperate community. Musical ability is a powerful entrepreneurial skill, and evidence is already showing the significant impact at Protea Primary School in Napier. Like any Entrepreneurial endeavor, it is an exciting, compassionate and life-changing environment in which to operate,” says WP.
The Mitre was lucky enough to have Natalie du Toit OIG in attendance, who is also a founder of Template Guru and works closely with Stephen on NGO projects.