‘Tumza, I think this man should not sell his idea and instead register a company.’ Yonda speaking in hushed tones looked to Tumelo for affirmation.
‘Chief, this idea is already a business… which you’ve been running in the last few months’, he turned to look at Tshepo.
It was true. For the last four months Tshepo was running around tweaking his idea, obsessing over the technical fluency of his software, physically checking in with his partners around the city to see if the system operated smoothly and whether customers found his concept convenient to use. He did all this ups and downs even though he simply could login remotely from his computer and track the data. He used his influence to market his creation on social media and asking his friends to use it and spread the word. He did not realise it but he had been doing all the things entrepreneurs do: nurturing their business.
‘It is easy to use Theko. All you do is visit Theko’s website, download the application and register. From there open an account with KD Bank within the app and voila, you can start paying for your drinks with Theko’, his status updates often read on his social network pages. ‘Of course you need to deposit money into your KD Bank account before you can start transacting…lol’, he added, amusing himself.
It began to dawn on Tshepo that for over a year assuming to be working on his thesis project, he was in fact running a startup company.
‘Monna, ako qale company o mphe mosebetsi’, Tumelo teased.
The longer he thought about it the more he realised that Yonda was right. It made sense to him as well. ‘O tiisetse bafana’, Tumelo said to Tshepo whose face resembled a teenager who has just discovered that he was growing pubic hair.
‘Of course I am right’, Yonda stressed. His glass was empty.
‘Eh, ausi…ke kopa biya moo’, Yonda asked Palesa to refill his glass. Expecting her to refuse, Palesa gracefully refilled Yonda’s glass and passed it to him.
‘Aowa, ke a leboha’, he said with big grin on his face.
‘Shaq, are you getting drunk?’ Pule taunted him.
‘Comrade, focus on the woman next to you. Kante bothata jwa die man ke eng?’ The audience was amused.
Mohau saw it as an opportunity to jump in and have his say.
‘Eintlik, what are you three gossiping about there?’
The excitement was palpable. The throats were wet and the boys were in a leisurely mood.
‘Gossip? O re tlwaela hampe sane’, Tumelo retorted before ordering Mohau to go and buy more beer.
‘Chief, these jugs are empty. Bring more alcohol, o tlohele o bua ntja. We are here to drink not to pray.’
They both stood up to buy more beer and to their surprise the bar was now full. In between laughter, good company and a pleasant conversation over drinks they had not noticed people coming in. The match was about to start.
Tshepo, greeting a familiar face here and there, turned to his friend on the left and said, ‘Morena, even if I decided to build a company, I don’t know the first thing about running a business. Plus, the idea of selling sounds attractive. Just imagine, walking away with millions and buying everything that I always wanted.’
Yonda was not impressed by this pedestrian reasoning.
‘Bafana, don’t be a clown. You will get the money and in the next five years it will be gone. You would rather invest and investing for you right now is taking money from these guys from Stellenbosch and build a business. Do you know how much they are willing to pay if you sell?’
Tshepo did not know the details.
‘No, they didn’t say’, he replied.
‘Exactly. They will probably buy your idea for R2 000 000 knowing well that it is going to generate billions for them. Don’t be a fool. You will regret selling later.’
Tshepo was listening attentively and surprised by his friend’s forward thinking. He began to put value on his concept and realised that if he was going to sell then KD would have to sign him a huge cheque. He recalled stories of entrepreneurs who sold their businesses too early because they were chasing money only to regret it later. Some even ended up killing themselves. He did not want to be one of those people. His friend was correct. He was being a fool by considering selling. Granted, he did not know how to run a business but he would learn.
‘No one is born an expert. They all had to learn’, he muttered to himself.
‘Huh, what was that?’ Yonda asked his friend.
‘No, I was thinking of a saying I heard sometime ago: no one is born an expert, they all had to learn.’
‘That’s it’, Yonda said emphatically.
‘Don’t worry mfana, you will be alright. Just don’t sell this idea. It is a great idea, a once in a lifetime idea. The reason those bastards want it is because they see its potential. Tell them to forget about you selling, instead they should invest.’
Tshepo was really impressed by this lucid reasoning from his friend.
‘Is this you or is it the beer?’ He teased Yonda.
‘I hear you. I won’t sell’, he said.
‘Do these bastards know that you will soon be a CEO of a lucrative startup?’ Yonda pointed to the other three, Pule, Mohau and Olwethu.
Tshepo was yet to tell them. He had kept the offer to himself and the only people who knew about KD’s offer were him, Professor Muzhingi, and now Yonda and Tumelo.
‘No, I have not had a chance to speak with them’, he told Yonda.
‘I will tell them once everything is finalised.’
He was in a way asking Yonda, and in extension Tumelo, to keep this between themselves. He did not wish to divulge anything lest he scuppers the deal.
‘Sho bafana, I will let Tumza know. Now let us drink like we have problems’, he stood up from the bar stool and raised his glass.
‘Hey, asiphuzeni!’ Tshepo just smiled and raised his glass, yelling, ‘The Diesel has spoken.’ The match was now underway. Some of the patrons raised their glasses and said, ‘Amen to that.’ Pule, buried in conversation with Lesego turned around to see what was going on. ‘They are drunk now’, he said.
Tumelo and Mohau eventually came back from the fountain, each of one of them lugging two jugs of beer. A waiter on duty followed them with a tray filled with drinks for the girls.
‘Damn buddy, that is enough alcohol to last you a lifetime’, one of the customers joked with Mohau.
Mohau indulged him with a laugh and took his seat next to Olwethu who was quietly enjoying his drink with his eyes glued to the screen.
‘Are you alright ladies’, he asked the girls.
‘Don’t be scared, amadoda akhona’, Mohau said as he pointed to every single one of his friends seated around the table.
Feigning coyness, the girls responded to his mischief by giggling as if to say, ‘Please don’t.’ Olwethu, until then quiet, made a comment that surprised everyone but his friends. ‘Ewe sikhona.’
Everyone was loosening up. The litres of beer that were being served at a dizzying rate were not going to waste. Bayern Munich was making a piecemeal of the team from Greece. The score before half-time was four naught to the German team and they did not look like they were about to slow down. The crowd gathered at Scrumpy Jack, the church, were enjoying the results. Almost all of them were supporting Bayern Munich, including the owner who was wearing the German team’s jersey.
By now Tshepo had weighed his options. Selling his concept, because that was what it was; a concept, versus building a company. By now tipsy and excited he looked to Tumelo seated opposite him, ‘I agree with Shaq, selling my concept would be stupid. I am going to tell those people that I am not selling.’ Yonda, Tumelo and Tshepo raised their glasses once more and made a toast at the top of their voices. ‘To not selling’, the two of them repeated after Tshepo.
‘Kante what is going on with these three?’ Pule asked. ‘Nangamoso, what did you promise these boys?’ He teased Nangamoso who smiled coyly.
The alcohol was flowing at the adjoined three tables and this was very much welcomed as it made conversation between the opposite sexes much easier. After receiving a business lecture from Yonda, Tshepo turned to his right and began chatting up Nangamoso. They had briefly spoken when the three of them arrived earlier on but his mind was preoccupied. Now he was free to talk to her, frequently repeating after Yonda. ‘To not selling’, he said. Besides the three of them everyone around the table was confused. ‘What are you talking about?’ ‘What are you not selling?’ Yonda dismissed the questions with another chant of the new slogan. ‘To not selling.’ Eventually they gave up and wound up repeating after him whenever he said it. ‘To not selling.’ By the end of the match the rest of the patrons were all shouting Yonda’s newly coined mantra as they raised their glasses: TO NOT SELLING.