Our Alumni- Benjamin Shaw & Matthew Henshall

In conversation with Matt and Ben, proud alumni of Startup Safari and members of our very first delegation in January 2016.

Since then, they have successfully built BrandMeIndia together whilst continuing to work on their independent projects as well. BrandMeIndia is a company that offers editing, proof reading and translation services and has quickly grown to become a force to be reckoned with.

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  • What was your reason for starting BrandMeIndia?

Matt: Ben and I sat in a hotel room in Agra, after two weeks in India and decided two things. Firstly, we wanted to practice the art of just getting things done the Indian way. We promised each other we’d start a new business every 6 months, learn something new and use as few resources as possible. The second thing was our first business BrandMeIndia. India’s 2nd language is English, yet it is used in all academic and company documents, documents which are often going to international companies. So we simply built a business to meet the needs of a fast turnaround copy editor.

Ben: Based on the learnings that we should try things, iterate and fail fast as we learn, Matthew and I began BMI based on the hypothesis that English-as-a-second-language writers need a service to easily check, understand and correct grammar, spelling and punctuation with a quick turnaround time. We realised that our unique skill sets would allow us to do this remotely and with a small capital investment, and BMI was born out of this theory.

  • What is your vision for your start-ups in upcoming 5 years?

Matt: We’ve got some really exciting plans, and in 5 years we hope to be in education in South Africa. We hope to inspire and equip a generation of youth to work hard, never stop learning and build the world they want to live in.

  • What motivates you to keep pushing on in the face of odds?

Matt: We are motivated by the fact that we know we are building something that is truly going to add value to students, tutors, and ultimately education. It’s an impatient motivation knowing that every day you do not perform your absolute best you are holding your product back from adding value to people’s lives. I am also motivated by the team, by the quality of people who are committing their time and energy to bringing this idea to life.

  • How has Startup Safari and your time in India inspired you?

Ben: SS taught me primarily that you need no permission to go out and do something. There is no prize for a perfect plan, just reward for execution.My time in India showed me the value of attacking a market with iterations on your original idea, identifying opportunities that are around you every day and most importantly not to be afraid of failure.

Matt: I knew I needed to take some time off, get away from the product and spend some time listening. Startup Safari was a great platform for that, I learnt a lot and cleared my mind. Everyone you meet, from industry leaders to young entrepreneurs, are willing to give you their time and let you ask your questions. The attitude in India is different to South Africa. Bluntly said, in India there are no handouts, nothing taken for granted, you just get things done. That impacted my vision of the practical path I needed to take to get SkillUp (my own startup) ans BrandMeIndia where I wanted them to be.

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  • From your personal journey, what would you like to convey to our readers?

Matt: Passion. Whatever you do in this life, make sure it is the thing that you are absolutely the most passionate about. After that, find like-minded, skilled people. Then you need to make the decision to follow your passion, the first step is easier with a team. The next steps are easier when it is your deepest passion.

Ben: Never be afraid to learn from others, share and build relationships as you go. It can be a long, lonely journey especially in the beginning – so build friendships and relationships with others doing the same. Don’t hold back on sharing your ideas, and don’t fear failure.Every day no matter how good your plan is, there will be something you have to do that you know nothing about and to move forward it’s all about finding the best solution quickly.

 

We are extremely grateful to Ben and Matt for taking the time to speak with us. We would like to express how glad and proud we are of them for having the courage and strength to chase after their dreams and make them a reality.

To learn more about our global entrepreneurial immersion programs, check out  StartupSafari.org

 

 

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