It was an honour to chat with Maushami Chetty, former corporate lawyer in a big South African corporate firm, clerk at the constitutional Court of South Africa, 10,000km (Pune to Berlin) cyclist and co-founder of Novate Legal, an innovative South African law firm focused on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (“SMEs“). Key take-aways included:
- Starting your journey as a Founder: Maushami was approached by her co-founder Eugene Botha to offer cost-effective and SME focused legal services aimed at meeting the challenges of SMEs in South Africa, she was at first hesitant. However after researching the challenges faced by many SMEs (a majority of which fail in the first three years) she realised she could combine her passion for making a positive social impact with her and her partner’s corporate law experience to offer a compelling and solution by providing top quality legal advice at affordable prices. The lessons here are that (co-)founders should passionately believe in their organisation’s vision and partner with people who share their vision and have complementary skills.
- Key Challenge faced in starting Novate: None- but in the business she founded before Novate Legal, she found building up the confidence to sell what she was selling and commanding her value were extremely difficult. Partnering with Eugene helped her realise (Lesson:) that having a co-founder who has worked with you and respects and knows your capabilities strengthens one’s confidence.
- Main regret: Not finding mentors soon enough. The lesson here is that it is important to have someone to bounce ideas off-of, open doors for you and make the journey of entrepreneurship less lonely.
- Key quotes: “My partner is ABC – Always be closing and I am ABC – Always be connecting”; “Take risks”; “Everything about business is people, if you don’t like people you shouldn’t be in business”