For any small company starting out in business, the million rand question is: how do we show the big players that we know what we’re doing and they can rely on us?
A good company to answer this question is Technetium, an asset-management and tracking company that opened its doors a decade ago and today counts some of South Africa’s biggest corporates among its customers.
“Our solutions are enterprise solutions, and when we started out, we asked ourselves, ‘How do we get traction and credibility among the larger companies and industries?’ Well, it helps if you can show that you are peer reviewed and being vetted externally,” says Technetium Chief Executive Wayne Aronson.
The TT100, with its authoritative TIPS model and network of respected adjudicators, has played a role in burnishing Technetium’s market credibility. “Peer review is very important, especially in the early stages,” says Aronson. “Being an award-winning technology company also makes it easier to prove your credentials.”
Awards, feedback and opportunities to engage government
Technetium participated in the TT100 programme in 2009 for the first time, and made it straight onto the sought-after Top 100 list.
In 2011, the company won the Director-General’s Award for Overall Excellence, in 2012 the JSE Award for Sustainable Excellence, and in 2014 the Eskom Award for Excellence in Technology. Last year, 2015, Technetium was a winner of the Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance.
Awards aside, TT100 has been helpful in two other ways, Aronson says. One is feedback on how Technetium manages technology, innovation, people and systems. “During the adjudication process, it is valuable to hear some of the comments of the adjudicators.”
Second, TT100 companies have access to the forums that the Da Vinci Institute holds with government departments, specifically the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Trade and Industry. Having facilitated a number of these sessions, Aronson cannot stress enough the value of these opportunities to engage with open-minded, receptive delegates from these departments.
Keeping small business on Government’s radar
“It’s important to educate Government about the challenges that small business faces in trying to grow. One example is the idea for a Government-sponsored handbook for small business, detailing key issues like tax and labour laws, BEE, grants and subsidies and internships. Speaking from bitter experience, the first time start-up companies find out that they have not followed proper tax or legal process happens when they receive the corresponding penalties,” he says.
“Another example is the financial and legal barriers small business faces when looking to apply for patents. South Africa has a horribly low level of patent registrations and it’s frightening to see how we fare against countries very similar to us. Forums like the TT100 discussions are part of the process of educating Government and keeping small business on the radar.”