HumanIPO: What do you think of social media marketing in South Africa?
Eyal: I think we have come into a time where there is an enormous amount of art where people go: “we need social media”. Now where we are in a time where people say: “we have got to get social media measured”.
Brands want to be engaged.
What is your opinion on crowdfunding?
In general it is a tool… for industrial designers especially.
I think we are only see the beginning right now. We are also seeing a lot of copycatting, more than innovation.
The other part is taking equity in businesses. It has now started already in various spaces around the world.
I think it is a very, very tough game. It is going to take a while for people to feel safe. It has happened but it takes a while.
In South Africa the only way it’s going to work is lower offers. You need a couple of success stories. You need to be sitting around the table saying: “I used this site and I just got a US$50,000 return on my US$10,000.”
Establishing an ecosystem and a track record is what is going to be necessary in that space.
Do you think there are enough successful South African entrepreneurs who return to help other startups?
I believe that is the worst problem South Africa faces on the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The entrepreneurs who have made it are not helping the entrepreneurs who were there before.
The essence of this is cooperation, collaboration, mentorship and partnership. These are the things that entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to really flourish. And that is not happening well enough in South Africa.
All the guys who have had big exits… where are they? They are not investing in new companies!
There are no venture capital companies in South Africa other than 4Di and even 4Di are nowhere near aggressive enough.
Do you think startup accelerators help?
Absolutely. We have been the direct beneficiary because of Bandwidth Barn in a very good way.
Not through money but through connecting us and through opportunities.
Look, 4Di has invested in 88mph. This is the right way that things are going to happen but… where are the guys who have had the big exits?
Granted, a lot of the guys have fled out of the country because of the Intellectual Property (IP) restrictions in South Africa, which are absolutely draconian.
Tim Harris and Justin Stanford are fighting hard on the front of the IP restrictions.
We are actually developing our team in Canada because we found it too difficult in South Africa.
The entrepreneurs need to make their time available.
Do you think business social media can help to connect people?
I think Clarity is the future. I’d say LinkedIn is the most amazing way to speak to people. Twitter is an unbelievable lead generation.
How do you think design is benefiting from technology?
Technology is a great connector and a great leveler.
Can South Africa lead in the design technology space?
Anybody can lead, anybody can contribute but you have got to be real and you have got to be humble.
When I look at other websites, I am utterly humbled, constantly, by their quality of work and their drive to learn and you have to keep that attitude at all stages.
Social community, interaction and feedback are what is going to allow us to grow the platform that the designers deserve.