Briefly introduce yourself, what is the nature of your business?
We are a data-focused consultancy assisting high-growth entrepreneurs to tackle the twin challenges of:
- Access to Finance
- Access to Markets (Media strategy, business development and market research
We use technology to assist businesses to simplify their routes to market and grow their cheapest form of funding: Their clients.
What inspired the launch of your business?
Previously, I was the Managing Director of JSE-listed media group Moneyweb and became very aware of how data was becoming increasingly more relevant for businesses. If you look at developments in the advertising agency space, you will see many of the big-name consulting houses have been muscling into their turf. Traditional advertising and media models were being disrupted and we wanted to use our knowledge to help entrepreneurs utilise their resources smartly.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We started out focusing on “Access to Finance” side of the equation. Everybody wants early-stage finance, but few qualified. Discussions shifted to helping entrepreneurs find clients (cheapest form of funding) and strategic partners to grow their business and plug-in growth capital when it was suitable.
How did you raise startup capital?
Bootstrapped the business using our own cash resources. Focused on client acquisition than trying to raise capital.
Describe your business model and how you make money?
We generate revenue in a couple of different ways: We have traditional consulting fees for the delivery of media/business development strategies but we can then also plug-in referral fees and annuity income from the business development initiatives we undertake on behalf of clients.
What challenges has the business faced and how did it overcome them?
Like all new businesses, winning those first few clients was difficult. In a lot of ways, it surprised me how long it took to get early commitments from clients. I assumed that having run a listed company and been a financial journalist with nearly 16 years of experience, it would be easy to sell the vision and sign up clients. Potential clients are always hesitant to support new ventures.
What we found worked well for us was to take on one or two pro-bono clients. Do a good job for them and then use them as references for future clients. Often people don’t want to be the first to back you. When they see that somebody else trusts you or you’re delivering work for an industry peer/competitor, suddenly they’re interested in what they are doing.
What was the business’s first big breakthrough?
Ironically, it was when we crashed one of our free projects that had involved a business opportunity marketplace. While the project itself didn’t fire like we thought it would, when it went down, it started a lot of really interesting discussions around business development strategies for clients.
It was great to be able to turn a “failure” into some form of success.
What online tools/apps is business using daily?
It sounds boring but we use Excel a lot to manage and track leads and projects.
Other tools that we implement include WordPress (Website), Mailchimp, Zoom (Webinars).
After staging something of a recovery in January, Blue Label has fallen back in the last week pic.twitter.com/2dAqEQ2f7I— Decusatio (@Decusatio1) January 31, 2020
What marketing strategy has proven profitable for your business?
Apart from the strategy that worked well in point 6, just talking to real people. The age of social media means that a lot of entrepreneurs have become “keyboard warriors” who are happy to bash off emails, post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and convince themselves they’re marketing themselves.
The reality is that people do business with people and you regularly have to be adding value to other people’s networks.
What remains a challenge for your business today?
Picking the right business is important and charging accordingly.
When you are working with entrepreneurs, they want the world on a very limited budget – we have to work very hard to encourage them to work with us.
There is often a perception of “overnight success” but as the saying goes: “You spend years practising to become an overnight success”