BACKSTORY: Riaz Moola
We question Riaz Moola, founder and CEO of HyperionDev
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Understand who the customer actually is. Often, a product or service may be used by someone who isn’t the person paying for it.
What was your first job?
I spent a summer working on computational biology research — specifically on understanding the evolution of viruses during pandemics — as is being done at the moment to identify new Covid variants. It involved working with a tech company in Cape Town and that led to me later joining a research programme at the University of Oxford.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I was an early user of Amazon, Netflix, and many video games ... but never knew how to actually invest as much time as I did in their products, into owning a small piece of their businesses.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was R3,000 for two months of software development.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Either be a really good nonprofit, or a really good for-profit. It is hard to build a social impact business that can function as both, and there’s nothing wrong with building a really good for-profit business that can create or support large-scale employment.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
Ineffective use of funding towards improving education and employment outcomes.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I almost played video games professionally for a career.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
You’ll meet Mark Zuckerberg while jetlagged.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I’d create a more drastic and innovative system of deploying education budgets at a national level, drawing far more on the help of unconventional solutions in the edutech industry — similar to how Rwanda approaches working with tech at a national level.
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