Young, Gifted & Killing It: Mashudu Modau
by Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) Mashudu Modau (@mashstartup), entrepreneur and founder of podcast network Lutcha, shares with us his entrepreneurship journey, as well as insights into the future of African media.
Veli Ngubane: Tell us more about yourself: where did you grow up and what did you want to be when you were growing up?
Mashudu Modau: I’m from Soweto and the proud son of a public servant; my mother’s been a teacher for 30 years. In fact, I was not only raised by my mother but by many other women who were also public servants. These women invested so much in me to ensure that I was different from other children who found themselves in a home with fathers who had abandoned them. Their values fed into my identity, who I am and what I believe in. Primarily, the values of service and purpose is what still keeps me grounded. As a child, I was always curious about solving problems, and it was this curiosity which ignited the entrepreneur in me.
VN: Tell us what you do and what does a typical day look like for you?
MM: As an entrepreneur and founder of the podcast network, Lutcha, designed to challenge the African millennial narrative through digital content, I spend my days identifying, cultivating and executing partnerships with small business ecosystem players. This is so that we are able to help startups and entrepreneurs to access tools and resources to enable and accelerate their growth. I am also the community and partnerships manager at Yoco.
VN: You are clearly passionate about entrepreneurship — are entrepreneurs born or made?
MM: Entrepreneurs are made. In the fire. Literally. It’s a process of constantly and consistently testing, learning, failing and starting over. Over and over again.
VN: What do you think entrepreneurs are doing right in South Africa and Africa?
MM: Something that is not documented enough is the phenomenal inherent ability African entrepreneurs have in solving real problems. We live in a continent filled with great potential and equally great challenges. As African millennials are not waiting for someone else to innovate solutions, we want to own the story, build our own businesses and do things that matter. Things that deliver tangible impact.
VN: Which brands do you admire and why?
MM: Red Bull, Nike and Yoco. These are brands, and businesses, [which] are rooted in strong values. They believe it is their responsibility to have an impact on the world while building profitable organisations.
VN: How can the creative industry attract and keep more talent in the industry?
MM: It’s important to ensure the remuneration of creatives is not only standardised but also sustainable. There remains a great disparity in the payment of ‘traditional professionals’ and creatives. Documenting and advancing the value of creatives in the world through design, technology and art would go a long way towards eradicating stereotypes.
VN: In your opinion, why is the advertising industry struggling to transform and what can be done to fast-track transformation in SA?
MM: This is a systematic problem. Across many industries in SA, there really hasn’t been enough of an investment in not only creating job opportunities for people but also in terms of enabling their advancement through management and leadership positions. There is no easy fix.
VN: If you had to go advise your 20-year old self, what would your advice be to young Mashudu?
MM: Be patient. But make it purposeful patience, investing yourself in things that matter, that add value, things that make an impact.
VN: What advice would you give someone completing their high-school education this year and looking to follow a career in the creative industry or starting their own business?
MM: Sign up to any experiences that empower, enable and educate you. Not just those that involve your interests or desired career paths but those that offer personal growth. Oh, and of course, patient with yourself.
VN: What do you feel is missing in the creative industry today, and what should the future look like in SA and the rest of the continent?
MM: The lack of a clear career-growth path or business-model roadmap, for aspiring professionals and business owners respectively. Unlike traditional business or tech startups, this is an industry where the rules are still being written. However unconventional it is, the lack of a structure and replicable business models make it harder to scale and establish it as one of the major contributors to the economy.
VN: Where and when do you have your best ideas?
MM: The best ideas I have had have always come at unexpected times and in uncontrolled environments. It has to be an authentic experience in my life where I engage new challenges and engage with the people who experience them most. I then work backwards, developing the best solutions.
VN: If you had a super power, what would it to be?
MM: Changing lives with the click of my finger. Like Thanos but, instead of genocide, widespread enablement of Africans to create, invent and build businesses that change lives at scale. I never work on projects where the impact on people’s lives is not immediately clear, so I kind of have it; I just have to put in a lot more work to get it done.
VN: Tell us something about yourself not generally known?
MM: I am an introvert. The work I do was not made for introverts, so I did what we have to do as entrepreneurs — adapt.
VN: What exciting projects are you working on at the moment?
MM: We are working on building out our podcast AST Network from three podcasts to 10 by the end of the third quarter of 2019. This will be a great step in better positioning ourselves as the prime destination for digital audio content in SA. Coupled with this, we are working to build an open studio for creators of podcast content that can serve as a hub and catalyst for the accelerated growth of the medium in Africa.
VN: Please would you supply two or three pieces of work you have been involved in?
- Building the future of African media on: www.lutcha.com
- Enabling, empowering and educating entrepreneurs with the resources they need on: www.mashstartsup.co.za
- Creating digital content that adds value and has an impact on the South African ecosystem on my podcast
Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) entered the world of advertising with a passion after completing his BSocSci (law, politics and economics) at UCT and a post-graduate marketing diploma at Red & Yellow, where he’s currently advisory board chairman. He also sits on the IAB’s Transformation & Education Council, is a DMA board member and Loeries, APEX, Pendoring, Bookmarks and AdFocus. He is the group MD of AVATAR, one of the largest black-owned and managed integrated agency offering in South Africa. In his monthly column “Young, Gifted & Killing It”, he profiles award-winning, kick-ass black creative talent in South Africa.