Western Cape-based software development startup Temo Digital is living proof that being young tech entrepreneurs and not settling for traditional ways of working is cold and can work.
The approach that Temo Digital has taken to growing a start-up with core technology services and developing custom solutions has been unconventional and from the grassroots level up. Since it began in 2018, the business has flourished organically, experiencing rapid growth in size and turnover, deploying and maintaining a 50/50 balance of formally trained ICT professionals and newly enrolled school leavers who are the driving force. driving force behind the company’s success. The choice of this format was inspired by the impetus to break the mold of traditional working methods and encourage more young people to enter the technology sector.
Going from a one-person show to a collective one
For small businesses, in addition to financing, another obstacle in the path of growth is knowing when and how to scale. When the time and demand for more capacity arose, the Temo Digital team opted to employ an Agile methodology that allowed them to successfully reach business maturity in a short space of time. What started as a team of four consultants has now grown into a thriving team of over 30 dynamic, young and talented staff members. As a result, the company has been able to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, faster response times, and innovative solutions for clients, which Wahseema Roberts, CEO of Temo Digital, describes as “the beauty of working as a collective with self-managing teams.” . .
Working eight hours a day has been the norm for employees around the world. However, with the advancement of technology and globalization overtaking the way societies operate today, the traditional 40-hour work week is perceived by many as redundant and in need of an overhaul.
“It is very important to us that our employees have a sense of freedom. Not everyone is a morning crowd, some people work better at night, so 9-5 just doesn’t work for us,” adds Emilio Flanigan, the company’s CTO.
“There is no typical day with a beginning and an end at Temo Digital. Our team works on what we call exchange, flexible hours. We start the day with a stand-up meeting at noon, where each staff member has a chance to update the team on what they’ve been working on, we fix any issues and everyone just follows the progress of the work on the whiteboard,” a tool that the team have implemented, which provides centralized, company-wide visibility of all customers, projects, and deliverables to all members, explains Michael January, the company’s head of Product Delivery.
Slow and steady growth: a winning formula
Even for the most experienced individuals, running a small business in the ever-changing field of technology is no easy feat. The issue of financing is a common barrier to growth experienced by small businesses, this was no different for Temo Digital. “There is a constant demand in the digital space that we found we couldn’t meet, not because we couldn’t, but because we didn’t have the people to meet it. People cost money and so one of our biggest challenges was having to say no to work that we knew we could do and do well. It all came down to not having the financial resources available,” explains Nicole Miller, CFO of Temo Digital.
“Simple is our superpower”
-Wahseema Roberts, CEO, Temo Digital
“We overcome this challenge by simplifying our process. The work we take on is very much in line with patterns of work we’ve done before, where we know we have a strong, solid foundation and room to showcase our capabilities and abilities to develop it through personalization,” Roberts explains.
Through gradual, slow, and steady victories over their challenges, Temo Digital has been able to create a unique value proposition with an excellent time-to-market winner that keeps them selling to one customer after another. “Part of what we also offer is enhancing the skills of our clients in the process of providing them with a solution. We do not want you to continually pay for our services. It has to get to the point of self-management, where they can participate and own the technology themselves,” adds Roberts.
The need for mentoring for small businesses cannot be underestimated.
While much credit is due for skill and experience in competently delivering a product or service, for entrepreneurs just starting out, being thrown into the bottom, too deep, too fast, can be dangerous and catastrophic. The need for strong mentoring for entrepreneurs just starting out is crucial to building a solid foundation, accessing industry networks and offering a realistic perspective on what can and cannot be achieved through early activities in the business.
“We became business owners overnight. We knew the technology. We could build the systems, but we didn’t know how to run a business, and the Innovator Trust came on board at just the right time to support our growth journey,” says Roberts.
Temo Digital has been a beneficiary of the Innovator Trust’s two-year business development program since 2020, where they have received holistic business support covering technical skills, business acumen and financial management training, as well as access to one-on-one mentoring and resources. support for. Most recently, the company was recognized for its outstanding performance at the Innovator Trust’s 2022 Women in Technology Recognition Experience, where CEO Wahseema Roberts and CFO Nicole Miller retired as winners in the category of Business Development Top Female Achiever First Quarter 2022 and second place winners in the Business Development Top Female Achiever Highest Percentage Growth category for 2021/2022. Both prizes also included a cash prize to be used for the business.
For more information on Temo Digital, visit www.temo.co.za.
For more information on Innovator Trust’s incubation programs and the Women In Tech 2022 appreciation experience, visit www.innovatortrust.co.za.