The Start of My Entrepreneurial Journey PT 1

The Start of My Entrepreneurial Journey PT 1

My story began as a young boy from Zambia who was fortunate enough to play professional Rugby as a career. What followed was an incredible entrepreneurial journey. When I started playing professional rugby at the age of 19, I decided that I would retire at the age of 30. My thinking at the time was that if I had not achieved what I wanted to achieve in rugby by 30, then it would never happen. As it happened I retired a few  months after my 30th birthday.

My entrepreneurial journey began while I was still playing for the Stormers. Myself, Bob Skinstad, Robbie Fleck and Peter Dickson owned a restaurant/bar in Newlands called Billy the B.U.M.S( Basic Up Market Socialite). It was part of a franchise that started in Durban, and it was indeed a very successful business. We did extremely well and didn’t worry too much as our main source of income was not from that business, but from rugby.


In the last two years of my rugby career, I was constantly looking for opportunities that could make the transition from rugby to a regular day job as smooth as possible. One day, I was introduced to someone at a business lunch who owned many properties around the country. An opportunity arose to strategically place Outdoor Advertising structures (Billboards) on those properties. This was something that was of huge interest to me as it did not require lots of time in an office. I would be traveling and identifying spots that could be suitable for billboards.

Early in 2005, I injured my neck in a practice session at Northampton Saints in England. I went to see the Neurosurgeon with my scans and he said: “ For how long do you still want to play rugby?” I answered and said that I would abide by whatever he suggested. His suggestion was that I stop as quickly as possible as my disc had moved and that it was relatively dangerous.

I went back home to my wife who was feeding our 3-month-old daughter and said “that’s it I am done with rugby”. The next day I spoke to my coach and told him that I would finish the season and would retire thereafter. In the following days I made contact with the big property owner and told him that I had resigned. I would be coming back to South Africa to start the billboard company we had spoken about. This sounds very uncomplicated, but I can assure you it was a massive decision that I didn’t take lightly.

After my decision to retire from rugby I was offered opportunities in Italy as well as a stint with the Bulls in Pretoria. Let’s put it this way: the decision to not go to Italy took much longer to make than the Bulls one. Maybe it is my personality, but once I made the decision to retire no amount of money or any opportunity would make me change my mind. At times I regretted not playing in Italy for a few seasons. On other occasions I was grateful I stopped playing Rugby as early as I did free from major injuries.

The season finished well with Northampton avoiding relegation. We beat the Leicester Tigers in Martin Johnson’s final game for the club. After my last game at Northampton, I came back to SA and I took a month off. No training, no work, just free time with my wife and daughter and a bit of planning. After 11 years of professional rugby I had to make a couple of big decisions.

One of them was when to make time for exercise. I decided that 5 am in the morning was the only time that could work. It was a time where my wife and daughter would not be affected. I have been training at this time of the morning ever since. My business partner and I started our entrepreneurial journey and I spent a lot of time in Gauteng where opportunities were plentiful. After 2 years of hard grafting, things didn’t work out between my business partner and I, and in mid 2007 I started CK Outdoor.

Watch this space for Part 2 of my entrepreneurial journey…

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