BACKSTORY: Sarah Dusek of Enygma Ventures
We question Sarah Dusek, investor and founder of Enygma Ventures
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
If you know what a successful outcome looks like for the other side, you can help create a win for them and you.
What was your first job?
I was self-employed from when I was 15 years old. I taught piano and gave music lessons to children.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was probably £2.50. I saved all the money I made as a teenager and used it to travel when I was 18.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Go big ... don’t hold back, don’t think small, you can’t really lose if you shoot for the moon. So don’t be afraid, just go for it.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I can speak Chinese — as I lived in Taiwan for several years in my twenties.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
Backing a friend to start a business I knew nothing about and didn’t really understand. If you can’t understand the business and how it’s going to make money — don’t invest.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
Investing in myself — believing enough in myself, to risk everything I had to pursue my dreams and passions. Repeatedly I ploughed back all my profits and earnings into growing my business.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
I am not invincible — I have limits, as well as limits on my energy and capacity.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
You know more than you think, trust yourself and your big dreams.
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?
I’ve had many careers in my life. I’ve worked for NGOs, I’ve worked in retail, I’ve built my own company from scratch — so I’m an entrepreneur and was a CEO. Now I’m an investor and still an entrepreneur.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I’d change exchange control regulations, making it easier to invest in SA through creative and innovative structures to enable more entrepreneurs to get funded to build the solutions to Africa’s problems.
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