What You Can Learn From This Entrepreneur Who Launched Two Successful Startups In Two Years
Trevor Gosling's first startup was acquired by Naspers
Trevor Gosling, founder of Lulalend.
What do you do when your first business venture becomes a major success within just 18 months of launching? If you are Trevor Gosling, you launch another one.
Gosling founded 5ounces, a food and wine e-commerce platform in 2012. To his surprise, the business did so well that in 2013 it was acquired by Naspers, the media and entertainment group, and investor in tech businesses.
"[The first business] was really off the back of my brother and his partner having founded Groupon South Africa and having seen the success there," says Gosling.
Gosling's older brother Wayne Gosling, is the co-founder and former CEO of Groupon South Africa, the now-defunct global collective buying website.
"I knew I had to get into the digital space, it was a huge place and I didn't know exactly where to go, but I wanted to leverage what I could from them. So they helped invest in the business in its early days and they obviously gave me good guidance in those initial steps."
5ounces was, however later shutdown by Naspers, as part of its restructuring plans in 2014.
For his second business, Gosling launched the online fintech platform, Lulalend, which provides entrepreneurs with short-term funding. Lulalend was up for the FNB Innovation Awards which recognises the country's most innovative companies.
A Talent For Spotting Opportunities
Gosling says his secret is being able to identify gaps in the South African market, keeping an eye out for what is happening internationally and adaping it to the local market.
"For Lulalend, it was really [about] researching fintech around the world, what was really successful, especially in developed markets, because you know developed markets are five years or more ahead of South Africa."
Want to develop a similar 'nose' for great business ideas? Gosling shares how he does it.
1. Always Be Hungry
"I’m never satisfied and I always feel like there are improvements to make. You can constantly be growing. I never want to be in a business that's just meeting 10% growth rates, I want to see the effect of multiple growth rates, and that's sort of what always keeps me driven. I don't know if that's just an age thing.
It's been a nice journey and a nice story to tell, but I feel I still have a long way to go and a lot to achieve before I can look back and say job well done."
2. Embrace Your Lack Of Experience
"When I [launched] 5ounces I was a bit naive. It was really my first venture and the first time I was getting my hands dirty. I didn't really understand the landscape so it actually came really suddenly.
"With most businesses you go around raising rounds of venture capital, like I have done with Lulalend, but for 5ounces we just had a seed investment and within 18 months we already got acquired."
3. Accept That Everything Doesn't Always Go According to Plan
"When I got to Naspers it was overwhelming that they were the right partner for the business and they would take it further than anyone else I had spoken to.
"It was a good experience but once I sold it to Naspers, for the time that I spent with them, it [became] a sort of corporate setup. I realised that it was a nice story to tell and it all worked out really well, but was this really [what's] best for the business? I'm not sure, but when I look back on that journey, I enjoyed it and it was a good learning curve."
4. Get To Work!
"There is no substitute for hard work. I think a lot of people get into the entrepreneurial space because they want the freedom and they want to feel like they don’t have a boss, but they don’t realise with that comes all the responsibility of you having to provide and make the effort to make it happen."
5. Focus On Solving Pain Points
"Solving a need is the big thing. That's what my business partner and I are about everyday. What is the problem and how do we solve it? And overriding that is customer satisfaction and experience. I just want to make it as good and easy as possible and to use technology to leverage that, so that's what we're essentially doing on a day to day basis."
6. Remain Passionate
"When it's not a passion and it's just a job, it's going to destroy your creativity. When you're not getting out of bed and you're not excited about what you're doing, that's going to destroy you. I think with a lot of entrepreneurs they try to have a passion, but maybe running a business is something they don't enjoy that much. Running the business takes over and then they don't enjoy what they signed up to do in the first place."
7. Focus On One Thing At A Time
"For me coming from a chartered accounting background, it’s all about structure and that’s how I go about doing everything.
"Like the analogy of eating an elephant one bite at a time, it’s really important to identify one key area that needs to be focused on. For me when I started Lulalend one of the key areas was access to funding. We ourselves could only provide SMEs with access to funding if we ourselves had funding."
8. What's Next?
"In terms of starting a new startup from scratch, I'll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. I have gone through the pains twice. Will I sign up for a third time? I don't know, maybe Lulalend will continue to grow and take a different path and expand. But I'm just focused on the present for now."