Thursday 31 December 2009

A new year, a new decade, a new chapter

This past year was intense and tough - I think most people are glad to be closing the books on 2009.

I thought I would share some wisdom that I am going to try stick too during the new year. Here are some key things for me :

- Always try to be graceful, at all times.
- Have more fun and learn to say no more. Stay light on the parasites!
- Never abandon your sense of judgment.

A friend of mine sent me this "Love the people who treat you right. Forgot about the ones who don’t."

Then, something that has playing around in my overactive imagination, If I say what I mean and mean what I say, then I should stop talking so much; that way I would have more time for myself (something I really need).

Bring on 2010, bring it on!

By, a very relieved 2009 is over, Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 27 December 2009

What is LifeFundi?

I got asked a question: what is LifeFundi all about?

I am very excited as I sit here and get my thoughts down on paper, er, laptop, well, you know. Yes, we are all fired up about this very colourful and creative new portal called This is a service that I always wanted to use myself but it didn't exist. So, we went and built it, and now we are busy testing the waters.

Some people spend time to save money (the vast majority I believe) and others spend money to save time. This is what LifeFundi is about, convenience. I can never afford to leave the office to run over the chemist, for example, to get a flu medicine if I wake up with a runny nose. And I hate having to leave the office before 6 to get to the shops to buy a present for a dinner function I have been invited to. Enter - a host of essentials at your fingertips; with express delivery and a range of day-to-day must haves - it is a wonder that this type of service did not exist.

No "boss" likes to have their staff leave the office to go to the shops during working hours and this is where LifeFundi has the potential to add a lot of value to our office-bound lives. I truly believe we are going to make a difference to the stressed out corporate worker. I know that this is something I have always wanted on the Internet and now it is about to become a reality.

I understand the start-up world and I have had more than my fair share of pain and frustration, but seeing this vision realized now makes it all worthwhile. LifeFundi is cool - pure and simple.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 22 December 2009


I am stuck with my young friend Tiaan at a small airport in Eastern Europe, and we only have the Internet to live on - please send supplies.

Then I read this (below) in my inbox, and there were some funny, new ones - we had to share it - we can also share the snow - we have lots of it! Too much. And this is another question that haunts us: how long will this intense downfall continue? I guess for now we will just have to go with the snow. Ok ok, that was cheesy, but we are proper tired, and freezing, and almost out of battery power. Better find a wall socket somewhere.

So, this is what was in my inbox today :

Questions that haunt me!

Can you cry under water?

If you have sex with a prostitute against her will, is it considered rape or shoplifting?

How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?

Why do you have to "put your two cents in"... but it's only a "penny for your thoughts"? Where's that extra penny going to?

Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What disease did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they "slept like a baby" when babies wake up like every two hours?

Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They're going to see you naked anyway.

Why is "bra" singular and "panties" plural?

Why do toasters always have a setting that burns the toast to a horrible crisp, which no decent human being would eat?

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a stupid song about him?

Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in the carpool lane ?

If the professor on Gilligan's Island can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?

Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains on all fours? They're both dogs!

If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy all that ACME crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?

If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?

Do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Why did you just try singing the two songs above?

Why do they call it an asteroid when it's outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemorrhoid when it's in your butt?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 17 December 2009

Make VS take

Most people try and make a living, and of course, save some money. Yes, I believe that most people try and make money by working hard. But taking money, well, that is a different thing.

There are many ways to "make" money. When you work hard you may earn something, and that is a honest, and often, a labour of love. When someone rewards you for a job well done then that is fulfilling. But when you make a wod of cash by managing someone's financial affairs then you taking a rake off the top - even when they lose, you still take the rake. What have you earned then?

Looks like we have learnt very little from the global financial shakeup - the takers are more active than ever.

I will bet that mother nature is going to step in very very soon! Yes, we can’t cheat nature forever.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 13 December 2009

Why do we do it?

A new venture went life this week : How did this start, I think to myself, as the year winds down, and I start to reflect.

I often get asked how IS got started. Well, for one thing, I couldn't find a job. I went for so many interviews: Anderson Consulting (as it was called then), the banks, IBM, you name it ... in each interview I asked all the questions though - perhaps I was too enthusiastic, too energized, too excited. Whatever the reason, they didn't hire me. No one gave me a chance. I had no choice - I had to do something. And IS was born.

And as to why I was at WITS university for so long (9 years), well, I didn't fancy military service, so I stayed a student, until the army conscription thing eventually came to an end. Getting those official envelopes twice a year, with call up papers, never really inspired me, to say the least. Couldn't quite see myself as part of the 1st infantry brigade in Phalaborwa for two years. Yes, I stayed a student, couldn't get a job, and IS was started. Really was a strange set of forces that made it all happen, that, coupled with an entrepreneurial drive. I was earning money from age 17, doing all kinds of things.

In the past few years I have re-visited my love affair with technology and many new ventures were championed. I met these great guys at Wantitall, and between their energized team, and the brilliant guys from our side on Vottle, Randgo, etc., another vision/venture was put in motion, with LifeFundi.

I am hyper-active, driven person, and I never sit still. No one is hiring me, and I need to do something, and I met these great "Fundi" guys, and we shared a common vision, and we saw a way to make some magic in the world, and we are taking a risk and going for it - viva LifeFundi!

Next year is going to be a blur once again, and there is the new movie project which we began casting this December already. The casting journey will continue until around April, and the shoot is planned for September/October. Making a movie is risky and indulgent - we could be out there working the land to help grow food to feed the starving but if every person had food to eat and nothing to feed their soul then what is the point. Yes, we need to make food to sustain life, but we need magic to make life worth living.

LifeFundi, like Wantitall, Vottle, Randgo, and the rest, are all about making magic. That is what we stay alive for!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 7 December 2009

Old school

I was at induction at IS last week. At the start of each month we run an induction programme for all the new folk joining the company. I generally spend an hour or so each month with the fresh starts, I share with them stories about our adventures, and I touch on areas such as leadership and values. I remember asking them all to turn off their cell phones before we began - it is amazing how many of them actually had to do this.

When you go to a movie (not that I have been in a while) do you turn your cell phone off? Or, how about if you go to the doctor? Is it because people just forget? Or, is technology really just making us stupid? What does it mean when some youngster tells you that they have a good relationship with someone - you need to question this. In today's world, the youth consider any person they have exchanged SMSes with as having a relationship. People they have not even met are considered close allies. Amazing!

Then, yesterday, in the Sunday Times I read an article by a local journalist, an old school person, with values and grounding, who was talking about Facebook. The journalist wrote that the main problem of Facebook is that it gives the illusion of friendship. "The loneliest woman I know keeps informing me that she has 745 friends on Facebook."

And, in another article in yesterday's paper, I read an interview by Barry Ronge with Clint Eastwood. "... the next day he was up early to do interviews with journalists, which he does with great courtesy and minimum fuss. He ambles into the room without an entourage, his hair tousled, wearing well-worn denims and sneakers, and shakes my hand. It is a reminder that the really big stars show up on time, give you their full attention and say 'Thank you for coming such a long way to see me' at the end of the interview." Ah, yes, grace - we don't see much grace in today's new world. Grace and fundamentals - where have they gone?

I am from the old school, and I can tell you, it is a good school - it taught us well.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 6 December 2009

Cold call

I was having a discussion this week gone by, with some friends of mine, about doing what you love and loving what you do. And I remembered a classic old story, that I heard once on a leadership course. It was about this guy who worked in a call centre.

The story goes that our call centre guy really loved his job. Yes, he liked the company he worked at. His colleagues were great, the pay was good, the location of the offices was fantastic, the set up was colorful and comfortable, the hours were cool, the vibe was positive... yup, this was a great story.

Someone then asked our call centre guy if there was anything that he didn't like about the job, and his response was "The phone - if it rings one more I am out of here."

And there you have it. You can take a horse to water, but a pencil must be led!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Bring on 2010 !!!

Another year disappears so fast! Wow, what a pace once again!

On the Vottle side this past month we have taken a colourful step forward! We have commissioned the services of some very smart young guys (who are ex-Google employees, or Xooglers as they call themselves!) to help us refresh the website in terms of look and feel, usability and relevance on the Internet. As you can imagine this is no small task and the 'project' is likely to take a few months to bear any tangible fruit. But the ball is rolling and the prospects are exciting!

As Vottle’s data continues to grow, we have improved archiving of historical data to ensure our systems run at optimal speed – our results here have been positive so far.

We are also investigating some new fraud prevention technologies to prevent scammers from using false or stolen credit card numbers – hopefully this can take us another step forward in keeping Vottle clean and safe!

On some other news – check out – these guys are hot – they help us with our design work on and, and more.

We got our import license in Brazil two weeks ago – we are very excited about 2010 in Brazil – is just oozing with potential!

And lastly, our portal goes live this coming Friday – we will begin our first corporate pilot then.

Bring it on!!!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 30 November 2009

Carry on bubbling

When those "traders" start removing their funds, from South Africa, for example, then what will happen to the Rand - the whole thing is another bubble waiting to burst! The Rand has strengthened in part due to this virtual trading, er, gambling.

One more thing on our cerebral and enlightened money managers; when one of these financial engineers makes a billion bucks everyone goes "He's a genius!". Genius my ass - he hasn't done a hard day's work in his life - it is gambling - simple is that!

Gentlemen, place your bets!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 29 November 2009

Carry on

I caught something on CNN this week. Something about "carry trades". My understanding of this was that people are borrowing money in the US, at a very low interest rate (like 0.5 %) and then putting that cash into a foreign currency, like the Rand, here in South Africa, where you can earn around 10% on your money. I think that was the gist of it.

Sounds like some folk have spotted an international arbitrage opportunity. Borrow in US $ because the interests in America are low, and earn in another country where the rates are much higher.

This does some like some form of trading. But in the virtual sense. Currency trading is a virtual transaction in my view. When you go door-to-door and sell your wares that sounds like a more physical act. But I will touch on that later.

The currency trading scenario is of course volatile because the exchange rate can swing at any moment. It could also of course turn in favour of these so-called financial managers or "money men" or it could go horribly wrong and well, then, you know, everyone just gets a bailout.

So, what's the difference between currency trading or going to a casino. Because, the truth is, no one really knows what will happen. It is all gambling! Going to a casino is considered gambling and the other one is considered to be the domain of intelligent, financially savvy individuals who are smart and sophisticated. You know, cerebral folk, who know more than the rest of us ... what a bunch of crap! They are all full of shit is what they are.

Every year I read in the Sunday Times the annual round up for the 12 months gone by and there is always that colourful result from that one the journalist whose kid threw darts at the dartboard and outperformed most of the financial analysts' predictions. Yup, it is one big gamble, and if luck is on your side, well, then giddyup!

The thing about this financial trading is that it is all virtual. No real work is being done. Well, not from my limited perspective. I find it hard to compare a currency trader with someone else who does an honest and inspired hard day's work.

I guess if a currency trade goes south you declare yourself bankrupt and you start again. Try telling a casino you can't pay them - yeah, right! So, the real gamblers will continue to trade virtually and will look down on us with their pretentious and arrogant ways. If I want to gamble I will call a spade and spade and head on over to a real casino.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 23 November 2009


No matter how much I think I know, I never stop learning, especially from the mentors I have in my life. And the one thing I keep going back to is, entrepreneurs are not normal - we don't have a "boss". And as for balance and structure, well, this always sounds like a good idea.

I read this highly compelling article online - you gotta read it :

Also, please have a look at - these guys do cool work! The BrandSpankers help us out with and, and more - they are good guys who really deliver. May the entrepreneurial gene be in their midst!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Friday 20 November 2009


What exactly is "style"? A guy I met recently said to me that style is the zone where one feels comfortable in. He went on to say that you can make your own style - it is not something you follow. For example, if you wear hot pants tomorrow and you are super comfortable in them, then other people will start wearing them. And that, apparently,is style.

Class is on the other hand, well, that is something different altogether. And grace, well, that is what life is all about. The secret to life is to live it gracefully.

Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but doesn’t style have a lot do with marketing?

Our man Steve asked me the other day "Do you know the difference between a rat and a hamster?" His answer: "Marketing!"

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 16 November 2009

Socialism explained

Our main Vottle man, Richard, sent this to me - it was too good not to share:

An economics professor at a local college made the statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.

The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

It could not be any simpler than that.

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it." - Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 12 November 2009

Plan of action

Everyone loves a good plan. A plan of action is always welcomed with enthusiasm when it looks exciting and doable. But, what makes a plan good, or, a good plan?

A perfect plan is all about timing - the time taken is what makes the plan a success or not! Meeting deadlines and expectations are key to the plan's success. That is what the plan is really all about in my view - yes, as the saying goes, timing is everything!

You can have this great plan and if you go nowhere with it then does it mean the plan stunk? I don’t think so - I think the person driving the plan may have sucked though.

I have always liked that phrase "a man with a plan" but if the man with the plan is not making sure that expectations are managed and that deadlines are met then this is ultimately a useless man.

Planning is about timing - otherwise we can have plans that never end. And this is where I plan to end this VLOG - I hope my point has been made. If not, then I didn't plan this one well.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 7 November 2009

Flying high part 27

How come if you book an airline ticket, literally, at the last minute, on something like it is so cheap. But if you physically book at the actual last minute when standing at the airport, then it is so expensive.

Airline ticket prices make no sense ... WTF ?!?

But so few things make sense in this day and age. I mean, what is a "definite possibility" exactly ... WTF !?! Talk about a contradiction in terms! Sorry, I need some sleep - I am making about as much sense as the world around us.

And speaking of high flyers, what's with hedge fund managers ... WTF ?!? When a hedge fund manager makes a billion dollars it means someone has lost a billion dollars - it is a zero sum game in my view. If I make a million widgets and sell them for a thousand bucks each then I have made a billion dollars. But when a hedge fund manager gets a billion dollars they have taken it, not made it. But I could be wrong.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 3 November 2009

My little sister

I have a sister who lives in Cape Town - it is her birthday today! She is quite a bit younger than me (same dad, different mom). She is an inspired soul with a good heart.

She is also very creative and colourful - check out her work here

Happy birthday Jade!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 1 November 2009


Where does the time go? The year end festive season is so close now!

On the Vottle side we have the following news:

We rolled out some new dynamic backup infrastructure this month, which will assist in creating easy off-site backups, as well as archiving our ever increasing data. We will also be deploying a new backup server in the next week to ensure we are safe from any unforeseen problems!

We will be exploring some further SEO improvements this month as well as experimenting with the quality of our data to see the effect it has on our overall traffic. Essentially we are trying to determine exactly what type of content our users find useful and that which they don't.

Then, for the bigger news: our Vottle star Richard has decided to join another Internet start-up from the new year. Richard is going to work on Vottle after hours and on weekends from February next year. We have a plan over the next few months to make some enhancements and then Vottle will take stock again from February. We suspect that Vottle will become self-sustaining from around March next year. We are battling though to monetize this portal. But the traffic is pretty decent and again we beat last month's record.

All the other projects are going good and we are expecting a good trading month over the various sites as we lead up to the holidays. Some cool new things are coming soon (bring on LifeFundi) - more next month!

Finally, we had our first casting session this weekend for the Riaad Moosa film project ( - a shoot date has been set for September next year!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 31 October 2009


I am all for structure, but “structures” is a whole different story. Those you can keep away from me!

For the past decade I have been hearing about this curious term "hedge funds". And I have met quite a few wealthy hedge fund managers. When I ask these people what they do they never can give me a straight forward answer.

I have always been inspired by people who have taken a chance and created something. From a designer pizza, to a high-tech online service. I am drawn to so many things, and I have had my imagination captured by so many people. But when I am told that "he makes a fortune from structuring deals" I honestly have no clue what this means.

I have been following the news lately and I see that corporate greed in America, for example, is as bad as ever. Have we not learnt anything in this current financial crunch? I have been reading about protests in the US because government bailout money is not being used where it matters the most, to create jobs (which are a real challenge in the world right now - the stock market may be going up, but the job market is hitting new lows all the time). Instead, we are still hearing of this incredible fatcat bonuses that are getting paid out. No wonder there are protests.

I see "structuring" is here to stay. It seems we are bent on collapsing, because that is exactly what is going to happen if this continues. The current stock market run of the past 6 months is not based on anything fundamental in my view. This nonsense about bailouts and stimulus is only trying to cheat nature some more. But, nature will eventually kick in, and the bubble will burst for real.

But what do I know, I am just some silly guy in Africa.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Let's dance

A friend sent this to me. It was too good not to share, and its message, too important:

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to 'cut back the calories'. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible!

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Who wants to be a millionaire' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, 'How about going to lunch in a half hour?' She would gas up and stammer, 'I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain.' And my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because we cram so much into our lives, we tend to even schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process The other day , I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy. Now... go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to... not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Make sure you read this to the end; you will understand why I sent this to you.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask 'How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi'?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift... Thrown away. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for... but while we are here we might as well dance!'

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 24 October 2009

What's in a name?

What's in a name? A couple hundred bucks actually!

Do you also suffer from domain renewal syndrome? You know, you just sommer register a cool domain, and then 12 months later you get a renewal notice and have to cough up some money.

For one or two domains it is not a big deal but when you have, say, over 100 domains it starts to add up. And you say to yourself "What was I thinking back then?" I mean, you never landed up using the domain and now you got to pay again to renew it.

This is a global issue! The domain registration and renewal curse!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 17 October 2009

Cool proverb

I read this on my mom's fridge at Friday night dinner: If you can walk you can dance. If you can talk you can sing.

My mom has a bunch of fridge magnets and this is what caught my eye last night.

If you build it they will come. Well, not quite the same, but I like to believe in magic like this.

Yes, we are building and building. Magic ahead!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 13 October 2009

The dream team

A dream team is the ultimate prize in life; like a dream husband or wife. If you ever have the privilege of being in a dream team then don't ever let it go!

Yes, don't ever sell or try trade a dream team. It is the hardest thing in the world to have, in my view. With a dream team you got each other's backs, and you have fun; like in a good marriage. You would never trade in a good partner if something else catches your eye. You would never sell off a dream team just because there is a cash offer on the table. Unless of course you are just young and naive.

If the dream team is winning then stick to your guns and stay a team - selling a venture means a loss of control and ultimately the dream team will fragment and cease (which is not your intention). Yes, to put a dream team together is the ultimate life challenge; like a good, solid marriage. Again, don't ever sell or trade a dream team. And if you do, it is probably not because you are a bad or stupid person, but simply because you lack life experience. Once the dream team goes, and let's say you then have a pile of money, you know what you will do next, well, you start trying to get back to a dream team - so, don't let it go.

Building a dream team is like raising a child - it is an ongoing process. You can't switch off from it - it does not sit on a "to do list"; it needs constant nurturing and work. It is always there, at the back of your mind. You never stop trying to make the team better and stronger.

A dream team is what life is about. And life is a serious, and fun, job, 24x7.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Which side of the street - part II

I flew back from London last night.

When you are in Heathrow airport you always look at the electronics store Dixons that they have there. Exploring the cool new gadgets, camera, laptops, portable DVD players, and more. You just can't help but looking.

For years there was always a sign in front of this store which read "We will beat any prices you find on the High Street."

But I noticed something new - the sign had finally changed. It now reads "We will beat any prices found on the Internet."

Things are changing!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 1 October 2009


Wow, another month flies on by! Amazing once again how fast the pace of the world has been!

On the Vottle front we have created new, custom search boxes for the Jacaranda and ECR sites. The original search box (as we have it on Vottle) was removed due to spacing and layout issues, but was requested by several users to be brought back. And with a bit of tweaking, this has added back some good functionality to these sites in terms of search.

Also, we have activated the ability to upgrade ads on ECR and Jacaranda since the SSL security for the Vottle server was overhauled - this allows us to now do credit card transactions from any of these sites.

In the coming month we will be looking at expanding some of our infrastructure to accommodate the ever-increasing volume of data on the server. These changes should allow for future scalability as well as make all active data on the server faster to view and search.

On other news, had another good month of growth. had the best month yet. And then, have a look at - I have touched on this before - it is our e-procurement project that we trying to get right. We will know soon enough if this is going to work or not.

Viva la France!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 28 September 2009

Reality cheque

A smart friend of mine who knows about books (he heads up the biggest retail book brand in SA) said this to me last week "Publishing a book is more about selling than it is about writing".

And then another inspired friend of mine just told me this "There are 3 kinds of people in this world; those that make it happen, those that watch what happens, and those who wonder what happened".

And from my side, this is what I got to say on the above: well said!
Yes, my friends took the words right out of my VLOG, er, mouth ...

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 24 September 2009

Feels like a Sunday ...

Yesterday afternoon I get this SMS from my mate Zaaid and it says “Happy Birthday”. So I call him and tell him that my birthday was 2 months ago. And he goes "Who cares - I just wanted to wish you happy birthday for 2 months ago".

Bottom line: it worked - he got my attention!

Then, last night another mate of mine Philip says to me something that stuck in my mind "form is temporary, class is permanent".

It feels like a Sunday evening but tomorrow is in fact Friday. Another public holiday under an African sky.

Lots to be excited about and lots to ponder.

I watched something inspired on the Web this week - check this out :

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 20 September 2009

Hi ho, hi ho - part II

So, I met this very sweet young guy last week. A friend of mine asked me to meet this youngster who was smart and full of energy. I liked meeting the young man - he was indeed an interesting guy, but once again, I was reminded of the new generation and their dysfunction. Now, I am not saying our young man was dysfunctional, and he certainly made a good impression, but when he spoke of the research he had just done, I was a bit weary.

Yes, when the youth of today speak of "leg work" and "research" you have do probe. Because, 9 times out of 10, it means they went on to Google.

Now I am a big Google fan, like everyone else, but when it comes to doing research this is just a pit stop. Real work, and real research, means rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. It doesn't mean clicking a mouse button.

My simple conclusion is that youth research = Internet research = dysfunction.

Of course, what do I know, I mean, I have never even downloaded a ring tone in my life and I have never been on Facebook - perhaps I am the one that is dysfunctional.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 17 September 2009

Hi ho, hi ho

I am at home tonight, working on a deadline, and my phone rings. It is a friend of mine and I tell him I can't talk long because I am working on a deadline for tomorrow. And he says to me "Why do we call them deadlines - they are actually lifelines".

Hey, I like this - I really really like this! It is not about death, it is about life.

Yes, I don't want to speak of deadlines any more, but rather of lifelines.

So, I am working tonight on a lifeline, which, by the way, my friend said can also be referred to as an "optimistic deadline". Hmmm ...

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Friday 11 September 2009


No, DD does not stand for Dimension Data, but rather, daily deposits.

I tell a friend of mine, and a fellow entrepreneur, that it was a pretty good week. And he says to me "But we didn't fill out any deposit slips; so how good a week was it really!?"

Now, I am not the most money oriented person, but my friend's message resonates with me. The bottom line is this: if you compare your various projects and ventures and you see that on one you can work 10 times harder and only see a 1% increase in returns but on another you can work 10 times harder and triple the customer base, then, well, the writing is on the wall.

A direct selling business like Randgo is something I understand. IS is a B2B service provider and the more hours we put in, the more we grow.

One last comment on the daily deposits is an old thought, and that is "money talks, but wealth whispers". The guy with a few coins in his money box can shake it and make such a noise but the guy who shakes a full money box makes very little noise.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 6 September 2009

Prove it!

One of our really cool and colourful ventures is Randgo. We refer to it simply as "the rewarding platform".

We are under a lot of pressure at Randgo HQ as the economic climate is tough and we are selling a nice to have product. These past few weeks though have been very exciting, as we gained some solid momentum with some leading corporates. There is some good light in the tunnel.

My personal journey with Randgo has been a steep learning curve. We have been dealing with a lot of HR executives and this has been challenging. For the past 6 months I have been on the road meeting many different HR folk and I have found it quite a frustrating experience. I dealt with IT people for so many years and this new detour has not been easy.

Here is a story of one of my mis-adventures (with a slightly embellished twist). So, one of our earliest customers at IS invites me over to come show him our new Randgo offering. We have a great meeting, swapping stories and talking about when we met, over 12 years ago. He tells me that the right person to speak to about our new service is his colleague, their HR director. He tells me that he will talk to his colleague and tell him to expect a call from me. He then gives me his colleague's phone number.

I call up the HR man with great excitement, and I speak to his assistant, and I leave a message. She tells me he is on another call and will phone me right back. Babkas!

The next day I try again. And so the mis-adventure has begun. After about 30 messages later I can see this is another paragraph in my memoirs.

A few weeks pass and I thought, what the hell, let me try our man again. And I call, and just like that, he answers his own phone. I tell him how excited I am to finally chat with him and that I have tried so many times to call and chat with him. I tell him that his company is an old customer of mine and that his colleague was going to brief him, and let him know I would be calling. He says he can't remember because it was quite a while ago now. And I say "Yes, you are right, I called you the first time about 2 months ago and I tried and tried to make contact with you." I tell him that I must have left over 30 messages with his assistant and I was just glad to connect now.

He gives me a colourful response. He says "You can't prove you left any messages for me." Ja well no fine. Nice man.

We did chat a little and he said I could email him some information about what we were offering. Which I did, right after I threw salt over my shoulder.

And, then it hit me. A few days later I sent him another email saying that I got his phone message and that we would love to come roll out our new Randgo service at his company and that we can't wait to get started. I went on to say that it was great to hear from him and that I was excited to come and meet him finally.

He emailed back to say he never left me such a message so I replied with "But you can't prove it."

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Spring leap

Winter in Johannesburg was so cold this year... spring is finally here. Yeah!

And on the Vottle front things are cool.

Here is a quick update form V-land: We have re-architected the login procedure for the new radio classifieds sites, ECR and Jacaranda. This will make the user experience less frustrating by using the main site login details to automatically log the user in to their corresponding classifieds account. This will be implemented and rolled out in the next few weeks and is sure to boost our user numbers as users will not be concerned about having to create a separate account for classifieds.

We will also be rolling out a new web certificate structure which will allow us to easily upgrade their adverts on these sites as well.

Finally, new search functionality will be implemented on these sites allowing users to seamlessly search the radio websites for both content as well as classifieds.

On some other news we went live with "The Big Deal" on - have a look at the home page here. And, in the month ahead we should have a Spanish site up and running as well as a site for Nigeria shortly after that.

On the Randgo side we now have our first official customers and things are about to get exciting on this front. is helping to catch some online fraudsters - we will be adding some more functionality to the site in the month ahead.

Vottle reached its highest number of unique visitors this past month! Viva!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 31 August 2009

Diamonds are forever

Last week I was travelling back from aboard with a friend of mine, and we got stuck at the airport in Munich for the night. Our plane had a technical fault and all the passengers were told to come back the next day. Some people, who had a visa etc., were put up in a hotel near the airport, and the rest had to sleep on the airport floor.

And that is where I heard this cool story. The "airport story", about a woman who was smuggling diamonds. So, the story goes that she tipped the airport security off about a diamond smuggler whose was wearing a cast. And then this woman arrives with a cast on her arm; well, the airport police totally interrogate her after receiving the tip, and proceed to remove the cast etc. But of course, they find nothing, and they are incredibly apologetic.

So, the next time she travels they are all accommodating and make a big fuss over her, and she just waltzes on through, diamonds and all.

Now this would make a great scene in a movie!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 30 August 2009

They say money talks

I am getting a dictionary - I am going to teach my money some new words. And one of those words is "work".

Think of money as an employee - it needs to work for you! Money in the bank doesn't do anything. It is lazy just sitting there.

Yes, some people spend time to save money and others spend money to save time. And time is going by so quickly. I think we got to start spending more - that will save us more time.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 24 August 2009

A cub and a proxy bear and the old world

I was just with my friend Kevin in the old world for a few days. We have not seen each other in a very long time and we finally spent some quality time together and swapped a bunch of stories.

Here are some of pearls from this weekend gone by :

I used to spend my money on things; on furniture and stuff, that burglars steal when they break into my house. Now I spend my money on things like experiences; those can never be stolen or taken away from me.

It's easy getting in, but it's not that easy getting out. Sign, and you are in. Getting out though requires way more than just a signature.

When a guy comes to me with an opportunity to make money it also is an opportunity to lose money. The roads to bankruptcy are paved with opportunities.

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

A woman can forgive and forget but she never forgets what she forgives.

A man owes his fortune to his first wife, and his second wife to his fortune.

In life you may be separated by 200 million but in death only a few meters.

Children are born with perfect knowledge and then we educate them.

Do you know why the man breaks the glass at a Jewish wedding? Because it is the last time he will ever get to put his foot down.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 20 August 2009

Debt, in very simple terms

A friend of mine sent this to me - this is a classic:

It is the month of August, on the shores of the Black Sea. It is raining and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town. He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 Euro note on the reception counter and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to choose one.

The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the pig grower.

The pig grower takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel.

The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the town's prostitute that in these hard times, gave her "services" on credit.

The prostitute runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 Euro note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there.

The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, and takes his 100 Euro note, after saying that he did not like any of the rooms, and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 15 August 2009

Comic timing

A few weeks ago I went to see Dr. Riaad Moosa on stage at the Civic Theatre in Braamfontein. The place was packed (in fact, I was told he was sold out the day the ticket selling opened, which was 3 weeks before the event). I have followed Riaad on his journey since meeting him over 7 years ago. I was amazed at his growth and his grace. The audience loved it and I think a real South African star is in the making. Perhaps our first international comedy star - I really think he could play to an international audience and they would love him!

I have invested a lot of time learning about comedians and about comedy in general. John Vlismas taught me a lot, and so have people like Riaad. I learnt that comedians are the best sales people; they got to close a deal every 15 seconds!

But here is the thing that always fascinated me the most (and something the audience is not conscious of); a comedian needs to listen just as much as they speak. They need to be listening to their audience, changing direction without anyone noticing - it is all part of the magic. If one story isn't working then they need to carefully and skillfully change direction before anyone realizes what has happened - talk about grace under pressure.

One last thing about comedy. Comedians are not naturally funny. No one is naturally funny. Yes, comedians must have a sharp sense of humour, but it is all about practice and discipline. Just like a great runner is not naturally an athlete - yes, they must be born with a talent and a passion for running, but winning the race is all about practice and discipline.

And with that, I am getting back to work.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 9 August 2009

Stress management technique

A friend of mine sent me this - it was too good not to share:

Just in case you are having a rough day, here is a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological journals. The funny thing is that it really does work and will make you smile.

1. Picture yourself lying on a warm rock that hangs out over a crystal clear stream.
2. Picture yourself with both your hands dangling in the cool running water.
3. Birds are sweetly singing in the cool mountain air.
4. No one knows your secret place.
5. You are in total seclusion from that hectic place called the world.
6. The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.

7. The water is so crystal clear that you can easily make out the face of the person you are holding underwater...

There!! See? It really does work... You're smiling already. Feel free to forward this if you know others who might benefit from this technique.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 2 August 2009

Vot next

This last month was the fastest one yet - what a pace!

On the Vottle front we reached the highest number of unique IPs to date - the East Coast Radio classifieds are performing really well and are contributing to a 30% increase in total ads coming into the system.

We are learning a lot of important lessons with this new development, and one is the need for integrated user bases. We will look at merging our login systems so that users no longer need to login separately to the classifieds once they are logged into the East Coast Radio site.

On some other news: we are shooting a comedy pilot test show next week for M-Net - the working title of this show is "Wadda Wadda" - there is a tie in with in the sense that the material discussed on the show comes from news headlines and images from the site.

The initiative now has a funky mobile component, and the Randgo movement is progressing well. It is a tough market out there and a "nice to have" is hard sell, but still, we are breaking some good ground and we are developing some very compelling web stuff.

Then, check out for - this is a new "local" initiative from the Wantitall team which went live this week. And on this front, our Brazil site ( is making good progress too. We estimate we are about 2 months away from getting our official importer's license in Brazil and then are going to get way more exciting over there! We are also quite gearing up for a Nigeria rollout - we aim to have this up in the next 3 to 4 months.

Lastly, check out the new site from TrafficFundi at - way cool!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 26 July 2009

We all have a boss

The Leadership Summit now seems so long ago. What a week it has been!

One really great thing that resulted from this leadership event was that I got to spend time in the months leading up to this, thinking about the lessons we learnt since IS began. There are so many compelling tales and anecdotes – I never realized how many of them make for good stories.

I remember going to pitch Internet connectivity at our second corporate customer back in early 1994. I remember being asked if we could come up with a discount. I replied with “Let me check with my boss”. And the guy asking me suddenly felt a bit uncomfortable and goes “I don’t want to cause you any problems”. And I go “No problem at all – I am going to ask the boss to check with the board as to what kind if discount we can apply here.”

So I call up Dave Frankel, and I say to him “Please can you check with the board what kind if discount we can offer here.” And this what Dave replies with “We are ordering pizzas – don’t be late or yours will be cold”. And I go “I understand – I know the margins are tight – I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”

And the customer was cool and looked relieved that the call was now over. They are one of our biggest customers to date and our relationship with them is solid.

Now, this is a colourful story, and what I learnt early on in life is that everyone has a boss. If I had said that I was the boss, and that we were the board, it would have sounded strange. Yes, all people have a boss, and they can't connect with you or relate to you if you don't have a boss.

When I left my customer that day I added lib a bit and said “You know, the board said if I ask for a discount one more time I should find another job.” He just looked at me and winked. We have very friends ever since.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 23 July 2009

Leadership Summit

The highlight of the week had to be the Leadership Summit that took place in Johannesburg - what an experience!

I gave a pretty good talk; not the best talk I have ever delivered, but a good, solid one. The one point that I am really glad I had time to get out there was this : If you do succeed in persuading people on an intellectual basis (with facts and figures) it is not good enough, because people are not inspired to act by reason alone.

Of course, the highlights of the day were Malcolm Gladwell and Richard Branson.

Here are some pearls I wrote down from their talks :

Life is about taking risks - yes, the brave may not live forever, but the cautious may not live at all.

Fortune are made in good times but empires are built in tough times.

Adrian Gore was the best of the day, in my view, and I think Discovery were very chuffed with the event, and as the key sponsor I think they did great - it was a big success.

Check out web site for this event -
The Leadership Summit.

It was a week of networking - there was also our annual IS conference in Cape Town: Internetix. This was very well attending and the vibe was fantastic!

What a week indeed!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 19 July 2009

Billy Joel said it

Honesty, it's such a lonely word...

There is difference between honesty and integrity. I think that if you have integrity then honesty is a given. But many people who are honest may lack integrity, as in, they left something out.

It is one thing to answer a question honestly, it is about thing to hold your cards close to your chest.

Leaving out a key piece of information lacks integrity. I think disclosure is never an issue when a person has integrity. But, when someone plays games they may not always disclose all the important facts.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 16 July 2009

Hello, who is that?

When I was a teenager, phoning a girl was a proper adventure. You never knew who was going to answer the call, her dad, her brother… there was real pressure!

We didn’t have cell phones back then. We couldn't just call someone up, any time of day, whenever we felt like it. There was a lot of thought and preparation when it came to the call.

Her side was less nerve wrecking than my side - I had to make sure the house was quiet, and that my brother was not around waiting to use the phone, or that my mother was shouting in the background "don't spend an hour on the phone". I would go "Mom, please be quiet for a while - she thinks I live on my own in my own pad". Yeah, right, at age 13 - but that was how it worked back then. It had imagination and creativity. Today it is all cold and instant and without thought or effort. Just like it is with all those digital cameras you see everywhere.

The worst actually, was that second line, where your mother would pick up and go “I need the phone … get off”.

There was always that anticpation before the call. That anxiety. Who was going to answer on her side? But there was no caller id back then - so you could just hang up then if you got cold feet. They never knew who was calling.

Seems like a lifetime ago, but it wasn’t. And the fundamental lessons we learnt from those days are still as important.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 11 July 2009

Know thyself (well, at least try guess)

There are very few people out there that really know what they want, and are willing to risk everything for it - those people deserve to be happy!

This week gone by I was very privileged to have met an inspired man called Peter. Peter said to me that a sense of humour is the philosophy of the unbeaten.

And then I read something that said "Live your life to the fullest and make sure you spend as much time as you can with the people you love."

I know I am hard on myself, and I know I push everyone around me, but the thing is, I don’t expect more from anyone than I expect from myself.

Tonight, as I sit here and gather my thoughts, I have counted my blessings, and I am feeling very inspired about the road ahead. There is a lot on the go, and the pressure is on, but things are exciting. I am learning to say "no" more and I am getting more done. Yes, life is only short if you don't pack a lot into it.

Lots to ponder this beautiful winter's evening.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Money and sense

I was reading the paper recently and there was an interview with someone and they asked the question "Can money buy happiness?". The guy in the interview sounded like quite a spiritual person and this was his response to this question:

If money could buy happiness, then would you be able to buy happiness for someone else?

If money could buy happiness, then would we haggle over the price?

If money could buy happiness, then would there be a limit to how much happiness you can buy?

I then read also read recently a blog that focuses on start-ups, and this was a comment that the author had to say, about the things investors don’t shout from the rooftops:

I’m in it to mostly have fun. If I wanted to do unpleasant work, I’d have my own start-up.

And, I got to thinking. Start-ups can make you excited about life, yes, if they succeed. But the reality is they are very very hard on the soul. The expression “no pain, no gain” really comes to mind when one thinks of a start-up. It is about hard work and sacrifice.

I know that the lessons we learn from pain are the ones that make us the strongest, but, sometimes the journey really can take so much out of you.

When it comes to making money, the start-up is more about creating magic than anything else. Happiness, in my view, is about making magic.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 2 July 2009

Farkin freezing!

Another month goes by at lightning speed. It's hard to believe half the year is behind us! It is also hard to believe we are in Africa, because it is farkin freezing over here!

The past month we spent a lot of time with Kagiso Media on the classifieds initiative we are exploring with them. We have made some significant progress on being able to supply white labeled versions of our classifieds site to partners. While MoneyWeb was our first partner in this regard, their classifieds system is a complete standalone site from their main website.

The sites we are currently putting together for Kagiso (the first will be for Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio) are different in that these classifieds sites run as part of the content on the existing pages on their site/s, and things like menu options and search facilities which run off their side are now integrated seamlessly with our classifieds engine.

Also, since the radio stations are regionalized, so are each of the sites, meaning that they will default to showing content in their relevant provinces.

We are also customizing the look and feel for each site and have improved our admin tools significantly to make managing of white labeled sites much easier.

On other news, is progressing well - we now have a proper mobile demo which is really cool. This month we will have 6 corporates on a pilot service and we are hoping to have our first official customers by August.

On the Wantitall side we are currently exploring launching a site in Nigeria - again, like with Brazil, the learning curve has been intense, but so far so good - we are also very excited about this!

Make sure to catch the TrafficFundi team at the IS annual conference this July: Internetix.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Getting started

I am all for having a business plan, and a clear vision, but there is no perfect plan. Entrepreneurs are not afraid to get started, even though the plan may not be perfect.

And the thing is, where you start off your journey, with your product or service offering, it probably is not going to look close to anything you can imagine, in, say, 5 or 10 years from now. The challenge is to take what you are developing from being admired, to being desired - do this and you will win, big time!

Yes, it is the start the stops most people - don't let it!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 25 June 2009

Sleeping around

Why do people straight out of school think it is easy to make money. I love the enthusiasm and the spirit, but, it can also take up so much time. Well, so much of my time that is. I meet so many young, excited people each week, and I love so many of their ideas. But, ideas don't make money, people do. They often look at me with these long blank stares when I ramble off something like this.

I a friend of mine was reminding me of something compelling the other day. He was talking about Bob Metcalfe who started 3Com.

Mr. Metcalfe invented the Ethernet at Xerox PARC. Someone then once commented that Mr. Metcalfe had made a lot of money because of this invention, to which he responded with "I didn’t make money from inventing the Ethernet; I made money from waking up early in cheap hotels rooms all around the world."

Yes, there is a close connection between getting up in the world and getting up in the morning.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 20 June 2009

AMA (American Medical Administration)

I read this on the Web - it was too good not to share.

The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new Obama health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.

The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Pediatricians said, "Oh, Grow up!"

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter ..."

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea. The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Interesting ...

It's interesting how people who take off sick days from work always seem to have a boss.

I get sick, now and again, but I never have taken a day off from work because I am not feeling well.

I am not saying I am better or worse than anyone else, I am just saying that it is interesting that the only people who ever seem to stay in bed for 3 days when they are sick are people who have a boss.

I don’t like this word "boss" but I think you get my point.

Yes, there are many things like this that are quite interesting.

My one entrepreneur mate said to me the other day, about a venture he was exploring, that the guy he was trying to do business with was acting like someone he was going to hire. And then my mate told me that he told this guy "I want to be your partner, not your employer".

And here is the challenge - how do we get the people we want to invest in to act like partners or shareholders, and not like employees. Even if the person you invest with has equity in the venture, it still does not mean that behave like a shareholder.

People who are real shareholders never take sick days.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Thursday 11 June 2009

Some people spend time to save money and other people spend money to save time

I have written about this many times before. But, I thought I would re-visit it again today.

I think that most people in the world spent time to save money. But, the only thing we can't ever get back is time. Time is the one thing I am personally very short of. I wish there was more time in the day to do everything.

And I got to thinking. I often order take-aways using Mr. Delivery. Yes, it costs me quite a bit to do this, but it saves me so much time. I know I could get in my car and drive to the restaurant and collect the pizza myself but that actually costs me more. The time that I save by making use of Mr. Delivery is worth way more than the money they charge me for the service.

In the same way, the online service is selling us convenience and peace of mind. Have you ever dealt with a courier firm? Do you know how much time they take up!? Why then do so many people not get it. I hear of many people who are delighted with those hard to find gadgets they purchased off Wantitall - I am one of those customers. I love what these guys do, but, I always get sad when I read some blog site where some guy rants about the pricing etc. - they just don't get it! They obviously have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. A person who understands the real value of time always enjoys a service like Wantitall, and never has time to rant about pricing. The bottom line is that they understand the bottom line.

Like I said, I really believe that most people spend time to save money. I wish it were the other way round. If it were, then more people would develop more wonderful magic in the world, by using their God given talents to their maximum advantage. None of us were put on this planet to sit in traffic all day, and to stand in queues, and fight with municipal workers for hours on the phone... so, don't! Rather pay someone else to do it, and focus on what you do best. If you spend some money to save time you will be amazed at how much more money you will actually make. Yes, the best way to receive is to give. So, the next time you have to spend time to save money rather give some who really needs the money a chance to do it for you, and then use that time you saved to focus on what you do best. You can figure the rest out...

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 7 June 2009

A product is not a business

How many times do you get excited about an idea. And you think you are going to make a fortune. And how many times do you land up going nowhere. We all know this movie.

The next time you have a "eureka" moment think about what goes into building a business. Is your idea about starting a new company, or is it more about a product that will fit into someone else's company?

I often get people telling me, with great excitement, about an idea they have for a movie. But the truth is, most often, what they have is a scene for a movie. One great scene does not make a movie. Just like one great idea does not make a company.

There is a difference between creating a business and creating a product. A business generally needs a sales department, as opposed to a product, which can be licensed to a company that already has the infrastructure in place to take that idea to market.

I think most people who come up with great ideas generally are oriented to developing a product. But developing a business is a whole other story. Not to say the same people can't develop a a business, but it is a different journey altogether. Just like with artists, developing a screenplay is different to putting a film project together.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 1 June 2009

June juice

It is freezing cold here... aren't we meant to be in Africa?!

But, cold aside, we have some hot stuff on the go. Ok ok, that was a bit cheesy. Please forgive me - it really is too cold to think straight.

May was another busy month. In Vottleland our biggest movement has been with our work with Kagiso Media. And, we have just completed a new car feed from Autoworld.

Some other juicy news is about an e-Procurement hub that we recently rolled out and are busy testing. Have a look at

On other news we are learning more and more about the world of e-commerce in Brazil with - the learning curve here been intense, and I am sure the challenges will keep on coming for a while. It is very exciting though - God willing, we will get this right.

The Randgo portal is growing and growing. By the end of this month we will have a mobile demo running. We went live in May with our first corporate trial site and so far the results have been encouraging.

And, lastly, for today, is trading well. We estimate to launch this site officially now in August.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 30 May 2009


My rabbi sent me this SMS: "If you are the same today as you were yesterday, for what do you need tomorrow?"

The other day I heard some friends of mine talking. The one said that life was too short. And the other one had a very different perspective and said that it all depends on what you pack into it. And this got me thinking... Life is indeed short if everyday is the same. But, if you do pack a lot into your days then you will do everything you wanted to do by the time it is all over.

I think each day we have a chance to learn something new, to meet a new person, and to find some inspiration. Even when we are on the treadmill and even when it feels like we are just treading water, it is amazing how much we can learn and grow in a day. Most days in fact.

I remember an old saying that went something along the lines of "don't count the days, make the days count".

And then I also remembered that Kermit the frog once said "Time's fun when you're having flies."

I am excited about tomorrow!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 24 May 2009

Wealth versus value

Some people know how to create wealth, in the monetary sense, and some people know how to create value, which, can lead to making money.

Think of the value as "magic". It is about something colourful and inspired. It doesn't have to be unique but it does have to push the envelope in some special way.

The people who know how to create the wealth need the people who can create the value. And the people who can create the value need the people who can create the wealth. Of course, some people know how to create both – those are the truly gifted people, in the entrepreneurial sense.

I know how to create value, but I am not good at making, or, keeping money. There is a difference between creating things, creating value, and creating wealth. And because making money is not my strong point I need to have partners in the ventures I jump into – partners that help me balance out the equation. And this is a good thing, because doing things on your own is not that fun. A team is what makes climbing the mountain possible, and only, enjoyable.

Most people I have met in my life think that because they have a good idea and because they work hard means they are going to make money. But, negotiating with a landlord, and getting a good deal with a supplier, etc., is not as easy as it sounds. Maximizing the funds you have available in your venture requires a very special skill, and it is not something that should be taken for granted.

Making money to me is an uninteresting idea. One needs to make a difference. Add quality to the world and the quantity will sort itself out. But don’t be naive about it; get help when it comes to the numbers. An engine is made up of many parts. And they all work together to create momentum.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 17 May 2009


Leadership is not about power, it is about service.

A leader is not about dictating strategy - that comes from everyone in the team. A leader is meant to try and listen - good strategy can come from just about anyone. The purpose of strategy is to create alignment, and a leader is also meant to align people. Hence leadership and strategy are closely linked but I think there is a misconception that is up to a leader to define and articulate strategy.

In my short life I have learned that most people fancy themselves as leaders, but the truth is, very few people make good leaders. I think we all need to be leaders at some point in our lives, but when it comes to business, I believe that leadership in this sense is often misunderstood.

Leaders serve the people they are leading. Leaders are not there to boss people around or to feed their egos.

Effective leaders ultimately will work themselves out of a job if they have served their team well.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 13 May 2009

This is punny !

1. Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. The second one, naturally became known as the lesser of two weevils.

2. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too.

3. Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

4. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? He wanted to transcend dental medication.

5. A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?" they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer."

6. A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

7. These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.

8. Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him....what? (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good) A super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

9. And finally, there was a man who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 9 May 2009


This coming week we go live with our Randgo offering. This is a lifestyle portal and it is stunning!

I am personally very excited about the potential here and I think we have a unique service and something very very cool.

Our aim is to establish ourselves as a corporate Web-based staff benefits platform. Initially we are aiming at the leading IS (Internet Solutions) customers but we will be opening up to the rest of the market very soon.

We have an exciting development pipeline and over the next year we will be rolling out new features and services just about every other month. From customized news feeds, to a mobile component, to tailored corporate social network tools... the list of things in development is indeed fantastic.

For a demo go to and if you want more info about this colourful service then please drop me a line :

For the past month we have been out there doing demos of the portal to the leading corporates in the land, and from the middle of next week we go live with our first group of pilot sites.

The one thing that has stood out for us at the majority of the organizations we have spent time with this past month, is that people want to discuss their intranets. They see Randgo as a way to add spice to their internal portals. Yes, our vision at Randgo is evolving fast, and our future goal is to turn SharePoint into "starepoint". We want to position ourselves as fuel for the corporate intranet. "Content is king", is a popular expression, but content is not everyone's game. Well, at least gathering it and disseminating it - at Randgo this is something we are embracing in a big way.

Watch this space!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 2 May 2009

The right answer!

A friend of mine just sent this to me - it was meant for sharing:

You are driving down the road in your Corvette on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.

2. An old friend who once saved your life..

3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your Corvette? Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first. Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS: The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered: 'I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.' Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations. Never forget to 'Think Outside of the Box.'

HOWEVER: The correct answer is to run the old lady over and put her out of her misery, have sex with the perfect partner on the hood of the car, then drive off with the old friend for a few beers.

God, I just love happy endings!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker