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‘I’m Always The Stupidest Guy In The Room’

Dinesh Patel has done a lot: sport, entertainment and worked as a banker on Wall Street. After 10 years in the United States, he found his calling back on African soil, where he hopes to change the way we order food.

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Dinesh Patel had a solid plan: go to the United States (US), play professional golf and win a PGA tournament. His dream took shape when he earned a sport scholarship to study at Florida State University. When he got there he realized that it was going to be tough.

“It’s incredibly competitive and I don’t think that I was good enough, to be honest. But I also don’t think that I wanted it badly enough… Those guys are good, they work so hard and they were willing to sacrifice so much more than I was willing to sacrifice,” he says.

Patel, the son of a doctor and teacher from Durban, South Africa, decided to focus on his business studies but flirted with the idea of a career in the music business. In his final years at university, he worked as a campus label representative for Warner Brothers’ Electro Records.

“You throw parties and you get access to all the new music and you basically build these artists on a street level.”

When it came down to a career, Patel followed the money. His first job was in Atlanta where he worked as a senior consultant for Deloitte.

“On the day I joined, I think I knew that this wasn’t for me. But it was a great training ground because you learn so much about reading financial statements and understanding the mechanics of business.”

Two years later, he worked as a banker, at the peak of the financial crisis, for Goldman Sachs in New York.

It was here that Patel came across the innovative virtual canteen, Seamless. Patel made use of Seamless to order food on the nights he worked late in the office. The company initially focused on corporates but when they branched out, catering for everyone, business boomed. The concept of Seamless remained at the back of Patel’s mind and resurfaced years later.

After 10 years in the US, Patel returned to South Africa. He had many job offers and pursued his own business ventures but struggled to find his feet.

Through it all, he kept hearing his parent’s voice ringing in his head.

“Dinesh, first you wanted to be a golfer, now you’re not a golfer, then you wanted to be an accountant, now you’re not an to accountant, then you wanted to be a trader, now you’re not a trader, then you wanted to be an actor, well now you’re not an actor. What do you want? Can you just stick to something?”

Tired and on the brink of giving up, Patel experienced his epiphany. It came while he was lounging on his parent’s couch, in Cape Town, and the conversation was about dinner. It came down to two options: chicken from Nando’s or pizza from Panarottis.

“That’s when I immediately thought ‘there must be more options, if we had Seamless here it would be so good.’”

That night, Patel dashed out to meet Joseph Okleberry, who would become an investor. He had relocated from the US to South Africa to work as an internet strategist for Naspers. Okleberry brought his expertise of the web to the table.

Their conversation went something like this: “Joe you used Seamless, I used Seamless. Do you think something like this would work in South Africa?”

Okleberry was keen on the idea and the two men spent the rest of the evening drawing up the plan for OrderIn – an online food ordering service. It would partner with companies that offered delivery and customers would pay restaurant prices. In return, OrderIn would charge restaurants 8%.

Patel spent the next three months researching. He sent a proposal to Jason Finger, the founder of Seamless in the US, who jumped in.

“Jason brought in his development team from Seamless so we had all of their experience to build OrderIn from scratch. We used their experience and avoided some of the mistakes they had made. It was fascinating to see what a website that does a quarter million orders a day looks like,” says Patel.

Hennie Booysen, who worked for Skype in London and is also a co-founder of Groupon, joined the team as a co-founder. He brought his expertise in the e-commerce space.

With the help from an investor at Naspers and a hedge fund in New York, OrderIn secured the capital.

Patel formed a team of five who worked on the website for eight months, from a house in Camps Bay in Cape Town. As the launch neared, there were nerves.

Then the first order rang in.

“Everyone freaked out! We were like ‘oh my gosh there’s actually an order,’” says Patel.

The customer, who was working late at Investec, had a craving for sushi. Everything was running as planned. The order appeared on the OrderIn system, the machine at the sushi bar had printed the receipt and the customer received notification that the order would take 45 minutes. There was only one problem; the sushi bar had no delivery man.

“I raced from my house to the restaurant, picked up the food and dropped it off at the customer,” says Patel.

The guy told Patel, dressed casually, that he didn’t look like a delivery guy. Patel spun the story that as the first customer he received a special delivery from the founder and CEO.

Although OrderIn has had its fair share of hiccups, it has not deterred them. By next year, they would have signed 650 restaurants.

Patel says many overlook the cost of staff, maintaining a website and customer service when calculating profits.

“A lot of guys coming into the market are pricing themselves very cheaply, one to three percent. But the reality of it is that’s not a sustainable business model.”

When it comes to business, the 32-year-old founder and CEO of OrderIn doesn’t worry much, as he relies on the expertise of his team.

“I’m always the stupidest guy in the room. My investors and our team are so much smarter than me, that makes running a business so much easier.”

From sportsman to banker and now online food, Patel is happy he kept moving forward.

“I’ve always had this hustle. I want to do something on my own; I want to create something… When you are in a large corporate environment you don’t feel like you’re in control and as an entrepreneur, I think you want to feel like you are in control. You want to feel like you’ve got a say in your destiny.”

So, if at first you don’t succeed, try everything, try anything but try, try and try again.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Entertainment

Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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