Cape Town, South Africa – The eCommerce Africa Confex, which will be taking place from 17 to 18 February 2016, is aimed at improving the eCommerce climate in Africa through the expertise and learnings brought forth by leaders in the industry.
Kevin Tucker, CEO of PriceCheck, is one such leader who has a great deal of experience in eCommerce. Having experienced humble beginnings – like the rest of us – the business he started now generates over 2 million users per month. While Kevin remains a down-to-earth guy, he is forever trying new things and pushing the envelope. We sat down with him to find out more about how he does it…
- Can you give us a brief overview of your career history, for example, what you studied, your first job, etc.
BSc, Computer Science (UCT) – first job was waiter/barman at Cape Town’s most famous bar, La Med. Went to the UK, started BidMax. Came back to SA started PriceCheck in 2006, sold it in 2010. Worked at Naspers for a while where I started Dealify (Daily Deals) and then left. Went to Rocket Internet, worked on launching Dropgifts (never launched). Started GoGifting (SA’s first social gifting platform), then ShoppingFeeder.
- Wow. You certainly kept busy! At what point did you realise entrepreneurship was for you?
I never considered any other form of work/employment. I often have ideas and need to implement them. I don’t see many risks, only opportunities. I started my first business selling sherbet at school using a recipe from my science teacher.
- Do you believe entrepreneurs are made / born?
Good question. I think your personality may determine whether you will be an entrepreneur or not. Whether personalities are born or bred, I don’t know. Being an entrepreneur takes a certain amount of confidence, patience, arrogance and determination. And a will to determine your own destiny.
- That’s really inspiring, thank you. And, as an entrepreneur, what made you go into eCommerce?
Lived in the UK – eCommerce was all the rage. Came back to SA and it was in its infancy, and I saw opportunities. It allowed me to use my coding skills and desire to start a business.
- So you saw a gap for eCommerce in SA, how did you discover the gap in the market for PriceCheck’s services?
I used comparison services in the UK. In SA there weren’t any when I returned, so I built one. It was also started at a time when there was lots of competition in the market and very small marketing budgets for online stores. Luckily it grew and grew and is now the biggest price and product comparison service in Africa.
- What was your biggest fear / challenge in starting PriceCheck?
Not getting enough traction was a big fear. To make a comparison service a profitable business, it needs to operate at scale.
- How did you overcome this fear / challenge?
We worked hard on our product content and data, to make sure that we offered content that was useful to users and that search engines liked.
- It’s all about hard work, isn’t it. Given your hard work, what has been your biggest achievement thus far in your career?
Growing PriceCheck to be South Africa’s largest price comparison service, and then eventually selling it to Naspers.
- That certainly was (and still is) an achievement. And now, what is your ultimate goal you are working towards, career-wise?
My ultimate goal is always to create useful tools, products and services for consumers and businesses. I feel that financial reward should follow success in these aspects of business.
- From all that you have experienced thus far, what are the 3 top tips you can give to young entrepreneurs just starting out?
- Be daring
- Do it yourself
- Be quick
- Can you tell us a bit more about your business on the side, ShoppingFeeder?
ShoppingFeeder is a feed management and multi-channel marketing platform. It helps businesses manage their product data and distribute it to 3rd party platforms like PriceCheck.
- Sounds great. How would you rate South Africa’s responsiveness to eCommerce (1 being poor response, 10 being very responsive) and what, in your opinion, are the reasons for this rating? Do you expect this to improve in the coming year/s?
7/10. South African’s have taken quite well to eCommerce. The sense that they haven’t comes from the fact that the addressable market is very small. As more people have more disposable income to spend online, so eCommerce will grow. I don’t believe that many of the often-mentioned hurdles are actually hurdles, namely credit card fraud, delivery concerns, etc. I just think that our market needs to grow much bigger.
- It’s great to hear your positivity regarding the eCommerce climate in SA. Assuming the market does get bigger, where do you see PriceCheck in 10 years’ time?
PriceCheck is 10 years old this year, so it’s probably a good time to reflect and predict. I see PriceCheck as the first destination before buying anything on- or off-line. Whether that’s commoditised products, groceries or even insurance. Hopefully, the brand will be so ingrained in people’s daily lives that they will use the service every day. In ten years’ time, though, we may have all sorts of new fangled devices on which to use PriceCheck.
- Do you have any plans to further expand into the rest of Africa / the world? (Excluding PriceCheck Nigeria)
Yes. In 2016, we will look to expand into other markets in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. We see the uptake of eCommerce increasing rapidly and we want to be at the forefront of that.
- Finally, what are your thoughts on PriceCheck forming part of CompareAfrica, under the Silvertree Capital group?
Being part of the group will offer great synergies for PriceCheck and vice versa. It is very exciting to work with other entrepreneurs who are doing exciting things in this space.
For more information on the eCommerce Africa Confex, visit ecommerce-africa.com.