A Sage small business story, October 2016
https://www.42courses.com/ is a South African online educational start-up, founded in 2015. Since its inception, they have grown rapidly, thanks to a unique approach to skills development. Sage spoke to 42courses co-founder and creative director Devon Bolland about his experiences in starting a successful small business.
How did 42courses come about?
42courses is the brainchild of Chris Rawlinson. I met Chris while working as an art director at Ogilvy Cape Town. He convinced me to follow him into the world of educational technology. It was the easiest and best decision I ever made.
What does 42courses offer?
We are an online learning platform that makes learning as fun as playing your favourite game. But here’s the deal-breaker. Instead of partnering with tertiary institutions, we’ve partnered with some of the biggest brands and thought-leaders from around the world. This provides brands with a talent pool from which they can draw, as well as what we like to call branded utility.
How does 42courses’ model benefit brands?
Normally, brands pay millions for a 30 second television commercial. With 42courses, they are getting up to 20 hours with a direct audience who already love them. And it costs them nothing.
What does 42courses offer its students?
Our learners get unrivalled industry insights from the best in the business – courses that link to real-world skills and industry knowledge. Our learners are also working with the brands, meaning that they may one day have an opportunity to be talent scouted by our partner brands.
What was the gap in the market that 42courses exploits?
The gap we saw was that online learning is normally a digital dump of a book or papers. We want to tailor-make a user experience that reads and plays like a game. Learners can use ‘lives’ and gain badges as they journey across the web in search of knowledge.
What courses do you offer?
Our first course is perhaps the most useful one we will ever make, and it is led by Rory Sutherland from Ogilvy and Mather. The course is on human behaviour and explains why and how we are influenced in our daily lives by certain cues and nudges. It’s absolutely fascinating!
What has been a highlight of your small business journey so far?
A highlight of our journey was getting our first course up, and receiving a resoundingly positive response from learners. We have surpassed the global average for online global course completion by 1200%. So we like to think that’s because learners have loved the course and format.
Where would you like to take 42courses?
Our dream is to see this become as popular as Candycrush, but instead of people aimlessly stacking candy, they’re learning in a way they find just as riveting.
Nominate an amazing small business for the 702/Cape Talk Small Business Awards with Sage One
If you know of a small business that manages to rise above the rest, a provider of an outstanding service or wonderful product, now is the time to nominate them as a potential recipient of the 702/CapeTalk Small Business Awards with Sage One.
Now in their 8th year, the Small Business Awards are a celebration of Gauteng and Western Cape entrepreneurial excellence, and Sage One has a long and proud association with the awards.
Sage, as the largest supplier of accounting and payroll software worldwide to SMEs, is deeply committed to growing small business. Ivan Epstein, President for Sage International (AAMEA) and Chairman of the Sage Foundation emphasises the importance of celebrating the efforts of South African SMEs, “South Africa’s entrepreneurs in small and medium businesses trust us as they power the country’s economy. It is these entrepreneurs who are the drivers of prosperity and it’s our privilege to celebrate their achievements. We know that it takes hard work and human sacrifice to turn a dream business idea into a way of life. That’s why we sponsor these Awards every year – to make the voices of the entrepreneurs heard.”
Much like the businesses that are nominated, Sage South Africa began as a start-up. Originally known as Softline, the business was borne from a vision to simplify the lives of business owners. Founded by Ivan Epstein and Alan Osrin, and joined soon after by Steven Cohen in 1988, Softline was established during the formative years of the software industry with a mere R1, 500 loan. It was listed on the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa in February 1997, and delisted in 2003 to be acquired by The Sage Group plc. Softline changed its name to Sage in February 2013.
Today, Sage has over 13,000 employees across 23 countries and we work with millions of business people in all types of industries around the world. So when we talk about grit, passion and vision, it’s a voice of experience – one that we and many other South Africans share.
The 702/CapeTalk Small Business Awards with Sage One are an opportunity to give something back to small businesses that have a core of excellence, and give small business a big boost.
Prizes this year for winners include an advertising airtime package on 702/CapeTalk worth R250 000, a laptop, free access to Sage One’s accounting and payroll software and a year’s worth of software support, and a Sage training course of the winner’s choice. Runners-up come away with advertising airtime worth R125 000, free access to Sage One’s accounting and payroll software and a year’s worth of software support, and a Sage training course of their choice.
Past winners have seen marked improvements in their businesses. Roof Rats, a roof and ceiling cleaning company that won the Gauteng award in 2013 reported that their business quadrupled in the year following their victory, growing their staff complement from 11 to 44. 2014 winners, Book Express, likewise experienced a 20% increase in telephone enquiries and walk-ins thanks to the exposure that their prize provided.
Sage looks to support the growth of small businesses in South Africa with their payroll and accounting software, and also, through association with the 702/CapeTalk Small Business Awards. If a little company born from little more than a vision and small loan can become a world-beater, so too can South African small businesses.
Simple online accounting and payroll for SME’s by Sage
Entrepreneurship and the further development of small businesses are essential in ensuring South Africa’s economic growth and future success. Sage South Africa has always been passionate about assisting small businesses to be successful and operate efficiently, by providing software solutions to help businesses do just that.
Entrepreneurship and the further development of small businesses are essential in ensuring South Africa’s economic growth and future success. Sage South Africa has always been passionate about assisting small businesses to be successful and operate efficiently, by providing software solutions to help businesses do just that. In keeping to this objective, Sage South Africa has announced that it will be launching Sage One on 4 August 2014. Sage One is a simple, secure and affordable online accounting and payroll solution, developed specifically for small South African businesses.
Sage has more than 5 years’ experience in the online accounting and payroll space, with Sage Pastel My Business having been launched in 2009. This was later complimented by a payroll component with the arrival of Sage VIP Liquid Payroll and Sage Pastel My Payroll Online. Sage’s online business software has been well received by the South African market, with both small business owners and accountants enjoying the benefits of a cloud based solution. Sage has built on this solid South African foundation, and applied global insights gleaned from the Sage One businesses in Europe and the US, to bring Sage One to South Africa.
Says Sage CEO of Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia, Ivan Epstein: “Sage Pastel Accounting, Sage Pastel Payroll & HR and Sage VIP have enjoyed strong traction in the South African SME market with their cloud-based business solutions. As the next step in Sage South Africa’s continued investment in the cloud, we are now consolidating these offerings under the Sage One brand name.
We are proud to bring to market a simple, secure and flexible online accounting and payroll solution. For small businesses owners, financial knowledge is key, and having crucial business insights available at your fingertips gives you greater control and confidence to achieve business success.”
“Because Sage One Accounting is online, you can simply log in from wherever you are and start working,” says Steven Cohen, Managing Director of Sage Pastel Accounting. “You can access your data from the cloud, which means that your data is available online, anywhere, anytime and that you’re always working on the same data as your accountant or colleagues. This gives you a new level of flexibility in the way you run your business.”
The Sage One Accounting mobile apps put your customer and accounting information in the palm of your hands. Log on from wherever you are to view customer information, record notes, search for customers and contact them directly from your device. Find your way to your customer’s offices using map links and process quotes and invoices – all on the go.
Many small South African businesses are employers and as such need to comply with the legal requirements regarding salary payments and SARS compliancy. “Sage One Payroll gives you the peace of mind that your employees will be paid in accordance with the requirements of legislation and statutory bodies such as SARS,” says Anton van Heerden, Managing Director for Sage VIP and Sage Pastel Payroll & HR. “With our solution, your payroll expands and shrinks as your business grows, enabling you to add as many employees or pay cycles as you like.”
Sage One Accounting and Sage One Payroll are purchased separately and used with separate log-ins. However, they are also closely integrated to save you the time and effort spent manually recording your payroll journals in your accounting application. This ensures ongoing compliance and increased accuracy.
In addition, your accountant can work online on the same data at the same time as the business owner. Any accounting based questions can be sent directly via the software to your accountant. This time-saving feature ensures ongoing communication between the business owner and accountant.
Other benefits of the Sage One Accounting and Sage One Payroll for SMEs include:
- Ease of use: Templates and wizards make it easy to set up common tasks and processes. The interface is written in plain English for non-finance professionals, so no accounting or payroll experience required.
- Priced for SMEs: Flexible and affordable pricing that won’t break the bank.
- Secure: The software is hosted in a secure data centre, where your data is locked down, always backed-up, and secure from information security threats.
- Free support: Telephone and email support mean that help is there when you need it.