Alan Knott Graig Jnr Founder of World of Avatar and former CEO of Mxit, started from nothing – Just like us!
He shares with us some of his personal thoughts, life’s challenges and lessons as he becomes this successful entrepreneur.
Alan was born in North Pretoria, he had an unremarkable life until qualifying as a CA in 2002. He says “ there was no signs of entrepreneurship unless you count selling icies on the playground. I worked part-time from the age of 10, until I started my articles at the age of 23.
He went from being a packer at Spar, to an usher at Nu Metro until he reached his pinnacle. “From 2003 things started to become interesting, mainly because I had the opportunity to start my first business called Cellfind”, says Allan.
Since then Allan haven’t looked back at the corporate life with no pangs of regret.
Before Mxit came into the picture , what did you want to become?
My dream has always been to take over the world, seriously. I have been unclear as to exactly how to achieve that picture, but it’s funny how things have come my way which seems to help. I somehow came through school and university on time and without a criminal record. I started Cellfind, I ran iBurst and moved to Stellenbosch . I then founded World of Avatar and finally I bought MXIT.
As I get older I find that the path becomes clearer, but most of it is just dumb luck combined with an appetite for risk .
Many of us know that there are software and App developers out there but how does one get involved if you have this brilliant idea . E.g. , if you come from an disadvantaged community, you get this awesome idea that might work, you put your plans on paper but now the question remains, who do I take it to? What do I do next?
Firstly learn how to code, it’s not hard, go to http://www.codecademy.com/ and get cracking. A great way to get into this industry is to play PC games. That’s how I got into it . My addiction to games led me into computer science at school and at University .
I don’t write software anymore, but it`s difficult to get into this game without at least a basic understanding of software programing.
Secondly hang out where programmers hang out and make friends.
Thirdly don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. You would be surprised how few people have ideas they want to chase, but don’t have the skills to make them happen. Shine a light on your ideas and wait for someone to come and say “that sounds cool, need help” Of course, don’t be cold, no one likes to date an asshole.
In this specific technological world , what would you say are the hidden careers in this sector, which the youth are not aware of or that are not spoken much about?
Programing, programing, programing.Once you learnt the language you can gravitate into any of the major areas of the future.
Education is big, Games are big.
What would you say to people that discourage the youth , saying things like if you don’t have a degree behind your name ,you won`t get anywhere in life?
Ignore the critics but listen to your elders. I have a CA. I didn’t even want to become an accountant but my parents forced me to qualify (with many a threat and big stick). In retrospect I am eternally grateful. A degree (especially a professional qualification), gives you a safety net. This net lets you take risks , knowing that you can get a job if all fails. Do not underestimate the fear of failure. Having said that, don’t sweat the lack of a degree to much .
Entrepreneurs without a degree outperform those with degrees in the long run. Why? Because they have no choice.
The degree is not the important part. Hunger is the key. Are you hungry enough?
What lessons in life have you learned that you would like to share with us?
Firstly money comes and goes, reputation is forever. Secondly as Shrek once said. Your life is like an onion. It has layers, the innermost is you. The next is your husband/wife, then your kids, then friends etc. Your outermost layers are worthless without a strong core. Thirdly you must be an excellent communicator, if you want greatness.
If the audience doesn’t understand you. The problem is not the audience, the problem is you.
If you would like to know more about Allan Knott Graig or have any questions feel free to contact us and we will get back to ASAP .
Picture – http://www.apps-world .net / Interviewed by Lauren Leonard