top of page

Jack Mthembu | South Africa | Your Idea Matters!!

I’ve always been an entrepreneur before I even understood the concept of entrepreneurship. I remember being 10, my grandmother instilled a habit of working for anything and not being entitled to handouts. She would give her grandchildren a packet of sweets to sell and drive an income, instead of giving us money as most grandparents would. The habit of buying in bulks and selling to my peers, became a habit that was embedded with me through my schooling career. It was in my early days in university that I started having a clear understanding of what this meant. Along the journey I’ve moved from selling snacks from home back in Namakgale, Limpopo, South Africa, to hosting fun runs, designing websites using Wordpress, photography, videography, advisory, corporate gifting and accounting services. I formally incorporated my first company in 2014, which today is still my primary business. I quit my job within 6 weeks of starting after graduating to pursue entrepreneurship full time.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?

How did the idea for your business come about?

I always wanted to be someone of influence and build a legacy for myself. I am not yet there but very much on the path of doing so. I grew an appetite for risk and really liked the idea of being different from my peers. I won’t lie, this was greatly compensated by the fact that I wasn’t the most academic achiever, I wanted to be. It was after my studies at university that I realized that I was a visionary and had the skill of connecting dots. My decision to quit my job just after I started, was when I realized that I was contained and not given the freedom to grow as an individual. And I really had a fear not to be consumed by a corporate job. The idea behind my company First One Adventures came from wanting to inspire more teenagers to pursue their fun potential and why through camping, is because I have really great memories from my school camps and wanted more young people to experience all that camps can offer.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

The mindset. I had an idea but very much stuck in the mindset of merits and red pen evaluation. My whole life, I was taught to think in a certain way of being right or wrong. For the longest time I could not find the right way to kick start my business. I am generally a big dreamer and the challenge is always how it is going to come together. This is the biggest problem First One Adventures’ is addressing. Our camps create an environment that cultivates problem-solving, innovative & creative thinking and a platform where they can sparkle their curiosity. It was through putting myself in uncomfortable situations, such as leaving my formal employment to pursue entrepreneurship that allowed me to tap into a facing my challenges, coming with innovative solutions to overcome and testing my limits, because for the first time in my life I was out of an environment governed by restrictions of how I do things.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I recently completed; What makes them great? by Douglas Kruger. Which I would really recommend to anyone who wants to craft their skill, standout and pursue excellence. I recently started reading Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg. Which is really useful if you want to be more productive and make productivity a daily habit. The 8 Pillars of Excellence by John C. Maxwell is a great leadership book, that can help you be more effective in working with people and leading a team

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

Growing up in a black family means, you need to get your academics in order, get enrolled in the best university for a high professional degree, get your qualification and find a great paying job. Well I was really on track with my family's plans for my life until I quit my job to pursue full time entrepreneurship. In my early days as an entrepreneur I found myself quite alone, without any form of support from my family be it financial or emotional support. Which was so hard, cause the very people you expect to cheer you on are the ones who were pulling me back. I quickly understood that, their intention was to see me succeed and not stuck on my friend’s couch with no money but pocket full of dreams. However I must say I always had the backing of my youngest brother Vuyo, funny he was in his early High School career but he kind of saw the bigger picture of where I was going and would hold me accountable and cheer me on when everyone else did not see it.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

I had the determination to prove my family wrong and really gave them a different perspective of entrepreneurship. I was really hungry in my early days and still hungry to achieve more and one day to build a global business with massive impact across the world, and still today that gets me up and gives me the courage to dream big.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

Understanding the importance of cash flow and not from an academic perspective but from a real life perspective. And the importance of working with others as a team and moving away from the isolation mentality.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

I know tech is the big buzz in today’s startup world. Do not be intimidated yet continue being innovative and open to new ideas. Your idea matters but it will take more than dreaming to see it come to pass, do research consistently to keep up with what is happening in the world and keep up with the trends. Always remember if you don’t do it, who is going to do it?

bottom of page