BACKSTORY: SMSPortal’s Charles Stretch
We question co-founder of SMSPortal and acting joint CEO Charles Stretch
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
I have always seen a deal as something that makes commercial sense but needs to be fair, as relationships are key.
What was your first job?
I delivered newspapers when I was at school to earn extra pocket money.
How much was your first pay cheque and how did you spend it?
My first pay cheque from SMSPortal was R6,400 — I have no clue how I spent it.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Trust your gut. When you feel a certain way trust it and go with your gut.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
I would encourage government to provide everyone with an increased monthly grant, so no-one is living below the poverty line.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Bought more Apple shares.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
I lost my father unexpectedly in 2014 — life is very short, enjoy it, and do what you love.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I would say patience. As the team at SMSPortal will attest to, we like to get stuff done, so mine isn’t great.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
I am naturally very conservative so my advice would be to take bigger risks. And then once you take a risk, back yourself.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
No, I enjoy what we are doing at SMSPortal. But if I had to pick another career, I would have loved to be a professional cricketer and play for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
The president should force government officials to use public services and not private ones — send their children to public schools, go to public hospitals and so on. Hopefully this would encourage them to run public entities as well as the private sector does.
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