How To Squeeze A Laptop Dry

Published 7 years ago
How To Squeeze A Laptop Dry

DJ Kumbula is a brisk, no-nonsense entrepreneur. If you look closely, beyond the sharp suit and sculpted face, you can see traces of tough times that steeled him for risk.

The journey began in the dusty road of Chipinge, a tea planting town near the border with Mozambique, in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. Here he woke before the cock crowed and worked barefoot in the market.

“We woke up very early, scrubbed the floors and made breakfast before going to school. My mother wasn’t very educated so she started knitting jerseys and my siblings and I were the sales people. She also had a big garden and we grew vegetables on it after school and sold them when ready,” says Kumbula.


At high school, Kumbula graduated from market to salesman.

“My parents invested the hard earned cash into a grinding mill and small shops and by the time I finished high school I was in a private school funded by my parents. My parents inspired my dreams to have my own business. They had nothing but I saw them work hard to change their lives,” he says.

Kumbula moved to Johannesburg where he met fellow chartered accountant, Zakhe Khuzwayo, while working at Rentworks, an independent rental and asset management company. While there, they saw the demand for equipment thrown away by most companies in the industry.


The pair teamed up to open InnoVent, a rental and asset management company with a twist, in 2003. They squeeze every dollar out of a laptop by renting it over and over before selling it.

“InnoVent rents out equipment to clients, for example, to corporate clients for three years. When those computers are obsolete and can’t be used by those clients who need fast speedy technology, they bring them to us and our other business, Qrent, refurbishes the equipment and re-rent it into a second market to someone who doesn’t need high powered equipment,” says Kumbula.

Then there is a third phase.

“We put in, for example, 40 computers in a lab for a dollar per child per month and it means each child has access to a computer and the computer is maintained for three years. We also offer these computers to teachers and deduct monthly payments for 12 months from their salaries.”


When they opted to start the business, Khuzwayo had just qualified as a chartered accountant.

“When DJ came to me and told me about building a company like this, I jumped at the opportunity. I had no children or any responsibilities. Not once did we ever doubt that this was going to work,” says Khuzwayo.

They swapped their well-paid jobs for the uncertain world of entrepreneurship.

“We felt that there was a gap. We had seen some good and bad things in the company and we decided to build a better model, take what we had learned and add a number of things to create a better model we believed would work better for the clients we targeted,” says Kumbula.


It was easier said than done. For seven months, the pair worked day and night with zero clients on board.

“One of the companies that funded us gave us a desk, two chairs and a phone in a tiny room as our first office. We were convinced the business would work… We knew it was just a matter of time. We had structured our financing to allow us to survive for 12 months without any income and we did,” says Khuzwayo.

Nearly 13 years later, they have swapped the small office for a whole building in Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton in Johannesburg.

Where there is a laptop, there is a hidden dollar.

Related Topics: #Business, #Computers, #InnoVent, #May 2016, #Zimbabwe.