At just 28, Alex Fourie is already the CEO of his own successful company. Named as one of Forbes Magazine’s top 10 Promising Young African Entrepreneurs in 2014, he’s been going from strength to strength ever since he started his company out of his dorm room at Stellenbosch University in 2006.
His company, iFix, repairs apple products and has 11 shops throughout South Africa, servicing over 10 000 customers a month. Fourie saw a gap in the market when he tried to have his iPod repaired but was told by experts that this wasn’t possible. A few YouTube tutorials later he had fixed the device himself and a business was born.
We asked Alex some questions to gain a better insight into his success.
You’re only 28 yet you employ a staff of 80, if my sources are correct. To what do you attribute your success at such a young age?
Yes, I’m 28. Currently we have a staff complement of 125. However, # of staff isn’t an attribute of success. Success is a mind-set. That is all.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
I wouldn’t use the word, ‘hard’, but challenging is a better description. The sheer quantity of work is quite challenging personally. It’s important for entrepreneurs to create space in their minds and lives to think and if you have too much on your plate that is sometimes challenging. The key is to balance everything and create space to think through the barrage of noise in our current society.
iFix wasn’t your first business. Tell us a bit about the others.
Sjoe, I arranged tours for some of SA’s biggest artists to the UK & Europe in my first and second year at varsity. We also started the first digital music download platform in SA in 2006.
How has your company embraced digital marketing in your advertising campaigns?
Nearly all of our spend is on digital marketing. Digital is very different to above-the-line and your campaigns need to resonate to have an effect.
You are a musician as well as an entrepreneur. Tell us about that.
Ja, I played and managed bands for 10 years. It was fun and it taught me a lot about branding. Music is so subjective and making a name for yourself in music is so hard that business was nearly easy after that.
What tips do you have for young entrepreneurs in the digital industry in SA?
Solve niche problems. Look through your bank statement over the past month, see what you spent money on, see what sucked, build an MVP, throw $100 behind Google ads and gooi. It’s really not that hard, just focus on unique niche problems. Don’t try and become the next Facebook.
What did you study? And do you think that helped you in your career path?
I did a BComm at Stellenbosch. However, I don’t believe in the traditional tertiary education. Teach yourself a skill. You can learn anything online. Rather take the money you would’ve spent on studying at uni, go and travel and learn a skill.
What CSI projects does your company run?
We have 2 kids (Mihle, 6 & Nicci, 9) that we have taken out of a township school and put in a better school in Pinelands. Furthermore, we have an entrepreneurial teaching drive we’re busy with. We also support Greenpop quite extensively.
What are your personal Lovemarks, besides iFix of course?
Jeez. Tesla hands down. I would really wet myself for a Tesla.
You create your own destiny. Anything is possible. Gooi.
What’s next for Alex Fourie?
I’m currently in Elands and the waves are cooking, so I think I’ll go surfing.
Written and compiled by: Zara Bosman