BY MIA VAN DER MERWE
Leruo Jando Theledi, a third-year BCom (Management Sciences) student, is the founder of Lucrativ (PTY) LTD, a social media marketing agency that helps other companies or individuals grow their social media engagement on Instagram. Theledi founded his brand in 2017 and has gained over 200 000 followers on Instagram. Die Matie spoke to him about his current business, future plans, and the advice he might have for aspiring entrepreneurs.
In 2017, Lucrativ’s Instagram page (@lucrativ.co) was launched as a test project, but soon became “a new hobby and passion” for Theledi. He had started working with his first online mentor from Canada in 2016 and had found his attraction towards business. The young mogul confirmed that his mentors and inspirational entrepreneurs attracted him towards the business world, and said that it was “their lifestyle and their viewpoint on the world” that inspired and motivated him to start working on his own business ventures.
The student explained his mindset and drive for jumping into the world of business further, saying, “This [the inspiration from mentors and entrepreneurs], paired with the problems I felt I experienced during high school, made me want to get to a place where I could live like them and be unique in a world where I felt I didn’t fit in. Being one of the very few black people in my school years had indirectly made me feel like a bit of an outcast, but I can also attribute a lot of that to my personality.” The 20-year-old spent most of his weekends either starting new courses or educating himself with any free education he could find on the internet.
The up-and-coming tycoon has launched two online courses that teach others how to grow a following on Instagram, and has enrolled over 200 students. Today, he is running his business as a social media marketing agency working with five-to-seven-figure entrepreneurs to grow their social media following and to drive more revenue to their digital products.
Theledi says that he is inspired by a lot of people but that his first inspiration was his father, saying, “By the time I started learning about the stories of other entrepreneurs, he had already sparked a lot of my attraction towards business.”
Theledi describes himself as “crazy, charismatic, determined and impulsive”; he lives by his business slogan “Live A Lucrativ Lifestyle” and says, “Your life should produce a great deal of profit and value in all areas.”
Thedeli spoke about the three biggest core lessons he has learnt and had to implement into his lifestyle for success. These are:
1. Passion is your only guarantee
“The only reason why I believe I’ve been able to get to where I am today, and take certain risks is because of the passion I have for my business. Financially, my business had already failed for the first 2 years; however, the passion for the brand, the content and the community has been able to carry everything.”
2. Faster success means learning from others
“If it [weren’t] for the mentors I had, I would have never become the person I am today. I have accelerated what could have taken me years, to a much shorter time span.”
3. Play the long game
“All success is long-term, otherwise it’s not true success. Many of the short-term decisions I’ve made have been the costliest to my business. Sometimes it’s not worth taking the easy short-term rewards for the long-term trophy.”
Theledi says that the balance he finds between his business and his studies, has become one of his favourite aspects of his lifestyle over the past four years. Starting his business whilst still in high school has given him a realistic outlook on what he can get done and how to manage his time effectively. However, he says that “the reason [his] business has grown and works, is because of systems, processes and—most importantly—the type of business model [he has]”.
Online business models are not location-dependent, and this has helped him to work from anywhere. He states that time management was the bigger learning curve over the first few years. Elaborating on this, Theledi says, “I had to work overtime, sacrifice leisure, and maximise the time I had … I now have certain functions and processes done by employees with about five full-time team members helping me run my business while I’m in university.”
Theledi’s five-year plan going forward involves scaling his agency to a seven-figure business and collaborating with some of his mentors and entrepreneurs, such as Gary Vaynerchuck, Andrew Kozlovski and Niklas Pedde, who are all successful entrepreneurs he admires. The young entrepreneur cannot envision himself working on anything besides Lucrativ.
“I plan on finishing my studies and hopefully also completing my honours degree. I also plan on moving to Dubai in 2023 to work closer with my business social circle I’ve developed with my online business.”
He further states that he thinks being in South Africa has posed a challenge “to go down a path such as digital entrepreneurship because the entrepreneurial space is arguably more advanced in bigger economies. Therefore, being in South Africa can limit how fast you grow as the economy and entrepreneurship environment slowly develops.”
Theledi plans on putting back into the South African economy through positively impacting employment rates, amongst other contributions, and aspires to help implement strategic developments within the market. “However, long-term I will likely internationalise my company and switch over to a UAE-registered business to benefit from the advantages of running my business online if regulations surrounding online businesses continue to stay the same.”