With over a decade as an entrepreneur behind him, founder of Pimp my Book, Mpodumo Doubada, has learnt that success doesn’t come overnight. He’s also learnt that if you have an idea, you don’t have to wait until you have a lot of money, you just have to start with what you have. Born and raised in Lebowakgomo, 45km from Polokwane, the 31-year-old entrepreneur got his first taste of entrepreneurship while in high school.
After matric, Doubada decided to study for a Bcom in accounting at the University of Cape Town. It was here that he would later establish a budding business. “In my first year, I realised that we had to buy textbooks, but the shops only sold expensive, new ones.”
Unable to afford these books, Doubada had to find a way to source them and progress with his studies. “In 2006, in my second year, I decided that I need to be a bit wiser and find second-hand books. As any student knows, it’s quite difficult, because you need to find someone in third year or have to go through a whole lot of posters,” he says.
Instead of trying to find older students, he decided to put up posters in the university corridors announcing that he was available to help his peers sell their old textbooks.
“I started out in my dormitory room at the University of Cape Town. I asked my friends and roommates if I could sell their textbooks for them for a commission,” he says. The idea proved to be a winner. After a week, Doubada says, his dormitory was full of students wanting to sell their textbooks.
“My dormitory room was packed with books. Students were going in and out, looking for books,” he says.
It reached a point where he couldn’t handle the number of interested students and campus security began to complain about the traffic. This meant that he needed to find a different location to run his business. Being the solutions-driven entrepreneur that he is, he decided to set up a table at the campus where students could buy books after lectures. He did this for two years.
In his final year at university, Doubada learnt that there was a shop available for leasing on campus. “After graduating, I realised that I had a viable business. I already had a passion for business. In high school, I used to print T-shirts, but my vision was still to become an accountant and that business was just a pocket-money thing,” he says.
The most difficult thing to do in entrepreneurship is to start. Once you start you will make a lot of mistakes, things will go wrong, but you need to start so that people can back you
With business doing well, Doubada was looking to the future, but one of the competitors in the area was not happy with the new player who had entered the space.