Content management company, Bespoke Media, has taken its offering into a whole new sphere by creating a new content management platform, CLIC, which gives companies the ability to share relevant, personalised content with clients at the “click of a button”.
It is the brainchild of founder Seraj Toefy, who went on to co-found a separate operation, CLIC Tech, launching the platform earlier this year. It’s promise is not only ease of sharing, but also helping build better relationships with clients, and increasing the potential for more spend.
We caught up with Toefy to find out more.
Q: Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates?
A: I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug. I started a business 15 years ago, and it failed. I had to put my tail between my legs and go back to corporate. That is when I entered the media industry and I loved it, learnt a lot and grew. But there came a time, due to ownership changes and reporting structures that I really didn’t enjoy my day to day work. I wasn’t enjoying the work environment and I resigned to start Bespoke Media in 2012.
Since then I have started Ukondla Consulting and most recently, CLIC Technologies.
I don’t think I would go back to corporate again.
Q: Give us a brief history of your media venture? What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
A: In 2012 I started Bespoke Media primarily as a custom publishing business. I came from a publishing background and it was a natural place for me to start.
As the media industry changed, we changed with it, and have pivoted to become a content marketing business. We still publish a few print magazines for clients, but that only makes up 40% of our revenue at present. The rest is made up of digital content creation, social media content creation and management, photography, videography, animation, design and a whole lot more.
In 2017, Bespoke Media developed a content sharing platform called ‘CLIC’, which stands for Central Library of Integrated Content. It was born out of the needs of our clients, where they needed to share content with multiple users. We developed it through Bespoke Media, but soon realised that CLIC has value as a stand-alone business, so we spun it out into an independent company.
Now CLIC as a piece of software works independently of Bespoke Media. Clients and agencies can use CLIC but provide the content themselves.
Q: What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
A: Finding talent is always a challenge for any business and I feel even more so in the media industry. Not that the talent doesn’t exist, but that most of the really good guys are freelancers and love the independence. So you have the choice of using the really good guys, but missing out on creating an internal company culture, or you take your chance hiring the younger talent and nurturing them. Unfortunately for a small business, there is less time for nurturing and more focus on excellent delivery.
Q: Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?
A: I think the natural thing to mention when asked this question is often to revert to Awards received for our work, and we’ve been blessed with local and international recognition, but I truly consider moments of success when our clients achieve their business objective with the help of the communication we provide. Whether it is for a launch of a new product, growing their social media following or connecting with their clients. When our content helps them achieve that, it’s a success.
When it comes to CLIC, a real success moment was earlier this year when I attended one of the largest tech conferences in the world, Collision Toronto. We had an exhibition booth, and it was so validating when people from around the world visited our booth and were also blown away by the tech. Sometimes we sit at the tip of Africa and we wonder if what we believe is clever tech will impress those in the West. So when we got that recognition, it was great.
Q: What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?
A: I think the same characteristics will apply to all entrepreneurs, things like persistence. Resilience. Hustling. Vision. I truly believe that all entrepreneurs should focus on value creation. We need to change from thinking what great features things have, and refocus that to what great benefits we create for our target audience.
When it comes to media entrepreneurs specifically, I think we are currently in a time of such flux and change. We need to be on top of the latest media trends, social media platform engagement, tech advancements. The digital age has lead to a far higher degree of measurement, and because of that, we need to be creating media that is proven to be effective.
Q: Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses?
A: I heard an interesting research poll on radio this morning, unfortunately I didn’t hear the source of the research, but it said that the profession that most kids want to grow up to be is no longer an astronaut as it had been for a long time, but is now a YouTuber. A vlogger.
This just enhances the fact that social media has allowed for many more people to have a voice. Before social media, the messages we engaged with were curated by trained journalist in the form of editors or producers. Now, anyone can be a content producer.
I do however think that the fundamentals of content creation remain the same. A thorough understanding of your audience, what they want to see, how they want to engage with it, which platforms work best for them and what type of media works best for each particular platform.
You can not expect to do generic vanilla communication across all platforms. People want to engage with content that is relevant to them.
Q: What next from you and your media company/venture? What can people expect? Exciting upcoming projects?
A: We are focused on CLIC’s expansion at the moment. It holds within it huge scaling possibilities across Africa, Europe and the Americas. That should keep us busy for a while.
We are however well aware that when launching and scaling a product like CLIC, there are possibilities of spin off businesses that materialise, and we’ll be on the look out for those to ensure we don’t pass up good viable businesses.
Q: What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
A: We need corporates to take a chance on the smaller media entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, my experience is that larger corporations talk about supporting small business, but they prefer to continue to do work with the larger media companies. Their payment terms also make it hard for the smaller start-ups to really compete, and then the work remains with the larger players, and there is not change in the status quo.
Q: How do you ‘pay it forward’?
A: I do mentoring of start-ups for a few incubators, plus I facilitate and lecture at Stellenbosch Business School, I am also on a programme that assists small local business in the townships.
I absolutely love giving back through educating and mentoring. I do it so that I can help, but to be honest, I get so much back from the students and mentees, that it is extremely rewarding.
Q: What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
A: Hustle beats talent, when talent doesn’t hustle. I may not be the smartest guy in the room, but I am almost certainly the hardest working one.
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