10 South African Entrepreneurs under 35 (1/2)

It’s a fact, entrepreneurs are changing the world. Now even more than ever. But what’s more exciting is how young these entrepreneurs are. Facebook must be the most well-known example. Founded by (now) 28 year old Mark Zuckerberg, this company has literally changed the world, the way we communicate and do business.

Gone are the days where you need millions to start a business. The biggest marketplace is now available to anyone who has an internet connection – and what a marketplace – billions and billions of consumers! American kids as young as 10 are starting online businesses generating 5 and 6 figure incomes.

A crazy world we live in. But damn, isn’t it exciting?!

And in South Africa it is no different. With a sky high unemployment rate young South African entrepreneurs are now creating jobs for themselves and are making their mark both within the continent and across the globe.

I was recently featured by Nokia as a young entrepreneur and this was the inspiration to find other young entrepreneurs making their mark in South Africa. I have studied a few over the last couple of months and this is my list of 10 entrepreneurs below the age of 35 who are doing amazing things and have achieved great success at a young age (This is a 2 part series – click here to view the 2nd part!):

Ludwick Marishane (22) – @theheadboy

Ludwick MarishaneAccording to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Ludwick Marishane is the best student entrepreneur in the world. Ludwick started businesses as a teenager in Limpopo. Many failed, like his own brand of biodiesel, healthy cigarettes and a security magazine. He then started HeadBoy Industries, a business that designs and commercializes new products and services in South Africa. One of its products, DryBath, is the world’s first bath-substituting solution. It is easy to use and needs minimal water. It moisturises the skin, kills germs, and leaves the user smelling fresh. If that is not enough, Ludwick was also named by Google among the 12 most intelligent young brains in the universe.

Rupert Bryant (25) – @waroop

Rupert BryantRupert Bryant is the chief operating officer (COO) and a director at Web Africa, one of South Africa’s most successful Internet Service Providers (ISPs). His involvement in the company started at the age of 16 when Matthew Tagg needed a partner for his new venture, and Rupert was a perfect choice. Rupert was running his own web development company from the age of 14, and when Web Africa started as a hosting provider it was a logical choice for Matthew to join forces with Rupert to build his new web hosting company. They started Web Africa with virtually no capital, and over the last decade have grown it into a company which generates well in excess of R130 million annually and employs 130 people.

Justin Stanford (28) – @JustinStanford

Justin StanfordThis South African-born entrepreneur is a software industrialist and venture capitalist. It all started for Justin at the age of 13 when he bought raw apple juice and sold it to his classmates for a profit. A few years later he dropped out of school to pursue his entrepreneurial career. But success didn’t come easy and he had two failed businesses under his belt by the time he was 21. Justin fought on and his perseverance paid off when he came across Slovakian anti-virus software package called ESET; he negotiated with its manufacturers and begun its distribution in South Africa. Today, ESET in South Africa sells ESET’s assortment of internet protection products in about 20 sub-Saharan countries, making it an enormously flourishing internet business and Justin heads up the 4D Innovations Group, which includes the venture capital firm, 4Di Capital.

Adii Pienaar (28) – @adii

Adii PienaarIn my opinion, Adii is one of the most successful young tech entrepreneurs in South Africa. He is a co-founder of WooThemes, a business which has had great success – in an international sense – with millions of dollars in revenue annually. On his website, he describes himself as an entrepreneur, husband and very new father. Following him on Twitter, it is evident that this youngster is well respected in tech circles all over the world. Today, WooThemes is four years old, with 25 employees. The company had no funding and was 100% bootstrapped.

Vinny Lingham (34) – @VinnyLingham

Vinny LinghamVinny Lingham is a South African Internet entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Yola Inc., a San Francisco-based Web 2.0 start-up that provides free website building, publishing and hosting services to more than three million active consumers all over the world. The company has engrossed over $30 million in venture capital financing from institutional investors such as Columbus Venture Capital owned by SA’s Johann Rupert’s Richemont Group. He also developed CIick2Customers, a massively flourishing search engine marketing company housed in Cape Town, London and Los Angeles.

5 amazingly successful entrepreneurs each in their own right. With 4 of these entrepreneurs in the tech space, it just shows you again how possible it is to achieve success on an international platform by levering technology.

What do you think of these entrepreneurs? Any other young entrepreneurs making a dent in the universe? Let me know by commenting on the post below.

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Live simply, work hard, eat well, say no to nonsense, be positive and smile!


  • May 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm — Reply

    Hi, Marnus. Thanks for the informative article – really exciting & inspirational. It seems someone’s decided to use your work as their own though – see http://afrobiznews.blogspot.com/2013/03/10-south-african-entrepreneurs-under-35.html (by Amadi Nwokocha)

    • Marnus (Author)
      May 31, 2013 at 10:09 am — Reply

      Thank you so much for the comment and for letting me know.

  • November 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm — Reply

    Hi Marnus, great blog post. It good to see how youth entrepreneurs are making it big in the world. What’s so interesting for me is the fact that WooThemes was co-founded by a South African. Thanks for the info…

  • roma makhumisane
    January 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm — Reply

    its great to see that young people a pushing…but da are no women…. empower us

  • Chris
    January 15, 2016 at 3:40 pm — Reply

    Dude…not even one woman?

  • Mulalo
    February 15, 2016 at 11:18 am — Reply

    This is great, will soon be representing women in there

  • WilliamSMAL
    June 11, 2016 at 1:04 am — Reply

    Major thankies for the article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic. Pefferkorn

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