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Craig Newborn, CEO of PayJustNow. Picture: Supplied
Craig Newborn, CEO of PayJustNow. Picture: Supplied

What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?

Be honest about what you want from the deal, it builds trust from the start of the deal process.

What was your first job?

I started a business with a friend at school, called Nightshift DJs. We supplied equipment (sound and lighting) and DJ services for house parties. So my first job was setting up DJ equipment for parties.

How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?

We split the profit, which was R1,000, and then we reinvested the money back into the business to buy more equipment to expand.

What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?

The sooner you get to your first sale, the better. There are so many lessons in that first sale, which include: does your customer understand the product, do they think it is valuable, do you align on the value of the product (think price), what other things do you need to support the sale and gain your customers’ trust?

If you could fix only one thing in South Africa, what would it be?

I’d remove the barriers for start-ups to flourish — it will create jobs, which in turn will generate distribution of income in communities. With more affordability, people can meet education, health care and security needs.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?

I start my day as soon as I wake up — regardless of the time. It’s normally really early, and I spend the time reading a lot of content primarily on how businesses operate or function. This could be about the economics of railing iron ore from the Sishen mine in the Northern Cape to how Amazon Web Services is launching new GraphQL features to improve fraud detection models.

I try to spend two afternoons a week watching my kids play sport.

What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?

Not investing more in myself early on.

What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?

Best investment personally: marrying my wife. Without her support, I would not have been able to reach this level of success today. I met her through pure luck at a braai in Stellenbosch.

From a business perspective, it would be making the decision to start and own a business at such an early age. It taught me lessons about supply and demand, return on investment and how to be able to influence people. No luck here, unfortunately, just taking the first step.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Zero to One — Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel.

What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?

While time is free, it is also lost forever — there is never another time like now. Ideas are free, execution of them is not.

What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?

I had to make a lot of “adult” choices at a young age, so my message to my younger self would be that I know some of these choices are hard, but well done on making them. I am now able to spend significant time with my family due to those tough choices.

If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?

Establish a technology economic development zone, attract some of the world’s best entrepreneurs/businesses to establish here, which in turn would result in spending happening in our country. With increased spending we would be able to collect more taxes, which then results in improved lives for all on a sustainable basis.

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