Defying the paint industry odds

Kamo Seekoei

More young women are choosing to leave behind the pressures of the corporate world and deal with the pressures of their own start-ups.

One such woman is Mmatsatsi Rampa, owner of paint manufacturing firm Sun Diverse Group.

Rampa recently completed her master’s degree in entrepreneurship and venture creation, a qualification she intends to effectively use as she grows her business.

She explains that the company does not only manufacture paint but also provide advisory and supporting services to clients.

Sun Diverse Group supplies authentic Italian texturized wall and cornice from a local and 100% black manufacturer. The manufacturing plant has for many years manufactured SABS approved wall coating.

With a marketing and sales background she says it was only natural for her to steer her own entity to where she wants it to goinstead of working in corporate and building someone else’s company.

She is one of the fortunate few who actually come from an enterprising family with both her parents having started their own pain manufacturing company when she was still in school.

“This is not a family business. My dad still runs his business and I run my own, but we are both in the same industry because I was involved in their business as a young girl,” she explains.

Market access

The Sun Diverse Group owner says more than anything entrepreneurs want market access. It is difficult for new players such as her in that industry because there are many other brands who have a hold to the market and are monolopising it.

“It’s all good to give me the money but if I do not have access to the market the money will end and as a business I will still need those paying clients”.

So she is finding a way to work around the stumbling blocks.

“In order to get my paint infiltrate the market I have to work in the construction business,” she says. The company is registered as construction under the CIBD and therefore focuses on the built environment space.

She says in the commercial space we do general maintenance, water proofing and gamezine glamour paint.

This is a strategy that has started working for her as she is clinching deals.

Networking is also important for this innovator and she has now started reaping the rewards.

Understanding client need

Coming from and entrepreneurial home has given her a good head start and is something that she has come to appreciate as she comes in to her own.

“As you grow older you realize how growing with such busy parents has helped you develop and entrenched in you an entrepreneurial spirit unknowingly. Even when I was in sales and in territories I was managing I realized I was running a business and questioned how I would do my own business with such dedication”.

She says she has an appreciation for her early years because that time helped her understand client relations.

In her own business now she is always assessing client need and why others are not buying into her product.

“You need to understand your customer’s need. When you go to client your mind should not be about you selling a product or service, it should be about listening to what they need and solving their problem,” she emphasized.

Industry challenges

Being a woman in a male dominated industry also does not help because a lot of people think she does not know what she is talking about.

It is often a dynamic she has to deal with before even selling her product she says.

“When you listen to people instead of just sell you are able to win them, even those who say but you are so young, or you are a woman you get to treat their questions first by inviting them to your factory or showing them samples of your work. Once that part is over you can surely make a sale”.

Another challenge that nags at Rampa is customer acquisition.

Customer acquisition is very expensive so if you serve your first client well they will assist with that by referring clients to you.

She says that big companies are comfortable using big companies and known brands and perpetuate the stigma that if you give money to start-ups they will run with the money.

“And my response is, if you see it that way, let me propose something to you, keep your R2m budget and do a progress payment, phase the payment and see if I will run. There is no need to put barrier before we even begin”.

Sound advice: You have to take it a day at a time and do not give up because you are close to your tipping point. We need to acknowledge our baby, our milestones and relish big moments because once you go past those its over and other challenges will come.

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