Nkosenhle Hlope on turning a simple idea into a corporate enterprise

Owner and founder of Kenako – an audio-visual company, Nkosenhle Hlope, aspires to conquer the South African media industry

Kenako is based in Johannesburg and Durban, and is rapidly claiming its space in the media industry, by providing services to events and marketing companies.

Soon after graduating, Hlope started working as a geologist, but he soon felt that he wasn’t earning enough money. Believing he could do more with his life, he sought alternative ways to earn extra money on the side.

READ MORE: How tech entrepreneur Mike Lysko is simplifying the exhibitions experience

“When I was doing my second year. I was introduced to a programme called Nero that allowed me to create slideshows. When I went home for the holidays, I collected photos of all my friends and neighbours, turned them into slideshows and put them onto DVDs with music and captions. I sold them for R100,” he says.

“Soon, I hired a photographer and videographer. We would take photos at weddings and turn them into live slideshows. By 2010, I was earning between R10 000 and R15 000 per month on the wedding circuit, so I decided to take the leap and resigned from my full-time job,” he says.

At the time, he struggled with the packaging of his products as well as securing more clientele. “We were struggling to maintain growth and weren’t making enough profit. The bookkeeping wasn’t great, either. I also really wanted to break into the corporate market,” he says.

READ MORE: Vuyani Ngidi: Entrepreneurship is all about passion

Hlope engaged with the Raizcorp programme when a friend referred him to it. He says the programme has taught him how to package his products and attract more clients.

“I have learned how to speak the right language and to ensure that we deliver on what we promise. One of the main highlights was having a financial guide helping me with my budget. We’d sit at the beginning of the year and discuss how much I’d like to make for that year. Then we’d talk about how many clients I would need to approach every week and what resources I would need. When I joined, our annual turnover was R200 000 and three years later it was over R2 million,” he says.

Before Hlope joined the programme, he wasn’t sure if he should learn photography and videography but Raizcorp taught him that his role is to decide what products to offer, what people to hire and how to motivate them.

“I don’t need to do the actual editing. I was a technician who became an entrepreneur. The emphasis that my guides put on systems and processes meant that when I expanded my offices from Durban to Johannesburg, it was so much easier. We were able to get new clients in Johannesburg from the very first month,” he says.

When Kenako Media started, their biggest market had always been wedding events but after graduating from Raizcorp, Hlope decided to shut down the wedding side of the business as his dream had always been to do corporate work and TV ads.

“For the first few months, our turnover dropped but has now grown to almost match what it was. Even better, we have been shooting ads that have been broadcast on eNCA, SABC and CNN,” he says.

READ MORE: Tim Hogins: From security guard to serial entrepreneur

He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to find proper mentorship even though they think they know everything in their field of interest.

Hlope’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • No matter how small your business, you need to take care of your finances and books.
  • You have to know how much you make and what your expenses are.
  • I also think you should avoid cheap labour. I believe you need to hire good people who know what they’re doing. In the end, they pay for themselves. You simply cannot do everything on your own.
  • You should always remember why you started your business. Write down your vision as a reminder for when you feel discouraged and want to give up.