BACKSTORY: Johan Meyer of Wallettec
The FM speaks to Wallettec CEO Johan Meyer
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Stop chasing money. In the beginning, start-ups throw themselves at any deal just to get a client. Don’t! Select your clients carefully.
What was your first job?
As a student I was a delivery guy/salesperson for a butchery in Table View, Cape Town. After completing my studies I started working in software development for a web development company, also in Cape Town.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
Wow, I still remember this as if it were yesterday. As a web developer, my first pay cheque was for R1,200. The CEO told me how lucky I was to earn so much money. I don’t remember what I spent it on, but I’m sure my girlfriend got something.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
You can’t do it all on your own.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
I would change the schooling system. I feel children are taught that they are entitled to everything, that they don’t need to work for it.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I can’t swim.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
One word, cars. I have a soft spot for a new car, though I know it’s the worst “investment” you can ever make.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
My best investment has been the partnerships the company has built on the continent. Wallettec operates in 14 African countries and our aim is to operate in more than 20 by the end of 2022.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
No matter what disability you may have been born with, life is what you make of it. You can choose to use the disability as an excuse or you can make life what you want it to be. And, in life and business, always do a background check on some of the people you are partnering with.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
That I started a company that now operates in 14 African countries and has offices in 10.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would ask parliament to create laws that would make it compulsory for the big five banks to work with up-and-coming fintech start-ups. I have worked with start-ups that had the ability to truly change financial inclusion in SA but they were almost all “killed” by the big banks and the Payments Association of SA. Making it easier for these types of start-ups will bring about a huge change in the country’s economy.
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