It was an honour to chat with Brad K. Carter, a “side-preneur”, currently employed as Corporate Finance specialist at SASOL, with a distinguished academic CV that has seen him as the among the top students at high school, varsity and masters levels. Brad is now the co-founder of PSL Zone, a fast-growing online information platform that provides real-time information to supporters of lower tier South African teams, aiming to grow the support bases and uplift and improve the conveyor belt for local talented young footballers. Key take-aways included:
- Starting your journey as a Founder: Brad was sitting in a bar with is co-founder Nathan Wilson when they realised neither could name the third-tier of South African soccer. This lack of exposure presented a gap in the market. However Brad and Nathan only decided to pursue this gap because of their passion for soccer, both having played for many years, and their desire to build a product that would help soccer in South Africa. The lessons here are that; passion is important in launching a start-up and so is finding a co-founder who shares that passion but brings complimentary skill. In addition, a co-founder is important as a sounding board for ideas.
- Key Challenges faced in starting PSL Zone: Firstly they assumed they knew what their market was. For instance, they built their platform for smartphones while they soon found that 80% of their market was accessing PSL Zone from simple feature phones. Secondly, they put too much trust in certain technical partners because of their reputation and did not do a proper due diligence on said partners, only to be let down by them. The lessons here are that one should not only rely on desktop research only, one must go and meet one’s customers and potential partners , particularly their customer service/help desk.
- 3 Keys for success: Brad felt the ability to have a strategic vision of where opportunities lie, passion for the business and relevant (IT) skills were the 3 main characteristics that had led to PSL Zone being started and would lead to its continued growth. In addition to these 3 characteristics, Brad felt that networking would be crucial in growing PSL Zone.
- Key quotes: “Do it, don’t wait too long, don’t wait for everything to be in place….. things tend to fall in place if you just start working” “take that first step, go out there and do it!”