26 Apr Message from our Founder and CEO
The year 2022 means a lot for us as a business. I formed this business 20 years back on 1 October 2002. I formed it purely by default after making a bet with my fellow waiter in 2001. We were working on a shift and happened to serve a matric farewell function which was hosted in our restaurant, Mac Rib Family restaurant in Milpark by Garden Court Hotel. I was only 18 years old working fulltime as a waiter after recognising my ambitions to study medicine through Wits University would not come to light after realising I have hemophobia (fear of blood). This realisation came about after I fainted a couple of times at Lenasia Hospital. I was placed there by Wits University School of Health Sciences after missing the registration for the year 2001.
I was expected to shadow medical doctors for 16 hours a month to enable me credit to be part of the 2002 medical students’ intake. The trauma unit of the hospital made me realise that this is not a career for me. I fainted three times after being exposed to excessive blood. I recall the doctor I was shadowing advising me to rethink my career as being a medical doctor may not be ideal for me That’s when I learned of the term hemophobia after being diagnosed with the fear of blood.
In October 2001, I shared with my fellow waiter how I was unsettled by how we were asked by our floor manager to instruct the section of the restaurant which the school booked for hosting their matric farewell function to be mindful of the noise since there were other patrons in the restaurant. I was uncomfortable because the previous year, the year 2000, I had my matric farewell function which I believed was the best at Itsoseng Community Hall and we were so free to express ourselves. After all, it’s a celebration of completing the 12 years of schooling chapter. We laughed, clapped, danced freely. It was not the case with this function. I then shared my unsettled views with my fellow waiter and he dismissed me saying that if I was so uncomfortable with it, why didn’t I make a difference and host them since I knew better. To cut a long story short, I made a bet with him that the following year I would be the host. On 30 August 2002, he reminded me of the R10 000.00 bet as the schools were making bookings again. That night I got a tip of R350.00 and quit my waitering job.
By October 2002, I had secured four schools charging them R25 000.00 to host their matric farewell function. That’s how the business made its first R100 000.00 turnover and made me a CEO at the age of 19 years. The name Yourself came from the idea of providing the expected service the same way the client expects. Then I wanted to provide the best service for matriculants.
I authored my business autobiography, HOW I MADE MY DREAM LIFE WITH ONLY R350, where I tell the story in detail of how I formed this agency. Do get a copy at any Exclusive Books store or visit my personal website www.KabeloNcholo.co.za to purchase it online.
The business was officially registered on 12 September 2004 as Yourself Events Management positioned at 18 Jorrissen Street in Braamfontein. From then until 2006, we provided the service of events management. From late 2006 I positioned the business as a marketing agency and traded as Yourself Management. This came after the opportunity to provide an activations service for Zinto Marketing in Soweto township. I then realised the niche when other agencies outsourced activations services for us at different townships. By 2007/8 we were providing national activation campaigns for different agencies.
One thing that kept us relevant as a business was the focus on making our clients happy. We never forgot our essence of origin; to provide the expected service to our clients. The client is king. I then invested in acquiring more knowledge and understanding of the industry and business, which forced me to enrol at different academic institutions. I studied event management with Damelin College, project management with the University of South Africa and later enrolled for an MBA with Henley University. In the year 2015, I graduated in Business Management with the University of Reading in London. I am currently pursuing an Executive MBA degree with the University of Cape Town. I also make sure I read books covering the subjects of marketing/communication, leadership and business management for my knowledge upgrade. It is for this reason that I authored my own business autobiography, which sold over 7000 units after its release date of 31 March 2021.
The year 2011 saw us signing our first direct account; Tiger Brands, that is part of the Albany brand, which we still service to date. We carried the same approach; the client is king and it’s a must to provide the expected service even if it means less money in our pocket. Keeping the client happy is key to us. We continue signing a few more accounts such as L’Oreal, Nestle, Cell C, SABC, eTV and Absa bank to mention a few. We are currently a preferred supplier for the Diageo account of Smirnoff and Captain Morgan. Like any other business, we have faced difficult and tough challenges, and for us to still have our doors open today shows determination towards our ambition to be the leading marketing agency in Africa. The idea behind us launching the tagline Leaders in the African Market in 2017 from the 2012 tagline of Leaders in the Township Market. 2017 saw the business opening regional offices in Cape Town, Durban, Windhoek (Namibia) and Lusaka (Zambia).
We widened up our service offering in 2017 from being a below-the-line agency to providing 360 through-the-line services including other marketing services of above-the-line, below-the-line (our speciality) and digital. We purchased 4000 square meters of land for our Head Office in the heart of the northern business district: Sandton. We are a stone throw away from the Samsung African offices, Microsoft African offices, Tiger Brands and other multinational agencies to mention a few. The decade of 2011 to 2021 was a very interesting one for the business; we experienced growth, spectacular failure; and office closure for 18 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a very interesting and empowering period for the business and for me as the founder and CEO.
2022 is our greatness moment for us as a business as we are looking forward to celebrating the official 20 years celebration on 12 September 2024. The unofficial celebration will be on 1 October 2022, the day I formed this agency.