Entrepreneurs got game

2014-01-24 15:40

Mix two smart entrepreneurs and some gaming consoles with a bunch of kids and you get a booming business

Five years ago computer technician Musa Maphongwane – wheelchair bound after a car accident years earlier – spotted a gap in the market and started a community-oriented venture called Kasty Gaming Zone. His friend Amos Mtsolongo joined him and they haven’t looked back since. We asked Musa...

How was the idea of Kasty Gaming Zone born?

Kids in the neighbourhood would come to my house to use my PlayStation. I realised although children in less privileged areas were aware of gaming technologies such as PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo, most hadn’t had the opportunity to experience them because they’re expensive to own.

I also noticed kids had little to keep them entertained apart from kicking a soccer ball in the street. It was time to address the situation.

How did you and Amos become partners?

We grew up together in Pimville, Soweto, so we know each other very well. When he saw me operating my first outlet in the area, he approached me to be a partner and invested in the opening of our second container.

How did you write up your business plan?

At first I had a loose business plan for how I wanted to structure the business.

As it grew, I drew up a formal business plan with the assistance of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg.

How did you organise funding?

Family members helped out before we won R100 000 in a Virgin Mobile business plan competition.

After winning a second competition to the tune of R250 000, the Branson Centre appointed entrepreneurs from the US, UK and Australia to mentor us.

Why use containers as outlets?

I first visited malls in Soweto to enquire about the rentals of shops, but most were too expensive for my business model and would drive up overheads.

The cheaper rental and maintenance cost of containers allows us to charge kids only R1 for a 10-minute slot.

Also, most malls are on the outskirts of the township, so children would have to walk too far to visit our stores.

The containers enable us to position ourselves right where our customers are – next to schools, parks and sports grounds.

How big is your business now?

We currently have 10 outlets – three in Soweto, two in the West Rand , two in the East Rand, one in Pretoria, one in Khayelitsha and even one in Lesotho.

Each outlet has eight gaming stations with an ice-cream maker and a popcorn machine.

All the containers have a store manager present at all times, monitoring and assisting the kids.

We also offer a computer and gaming console sales and repair service.

Plans for the future?

To have outlets in all the townships of Mzansi and also in neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Zambia.

What makes a good business partnership?

Honesty and integrity are key. You also need to be sure you share the same business vision.

The number of township kids who visit a Kasty Gaming Zone outlet every day.

Tips for wannabe entrepreneurs

• Identify a need in your environment by exploring the challenges

you’ve encountered in your area. Start thinking about solutions.

• Ask questions and do as much research as possible.

• Go for it – and remember patience and perseverance go a long way.

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