IoT.nxt Chairman Wayne Fitzjohn has built a very successful career on challenging paradigms and equipping companies to break new ground sustainably. One of the highlights of his career was the founding of Talent10 Holdings with Chett Mahery and Joe Bester. Talent10 boasts in excess of 10 successful capital raises, including R100-million for IoT.nxt.
A highlight of Wayne’s career was at Citadel Investment Solutions, where he founded Wealth Realisation, managed a multibillion-rand portfolio and sourced the highest cumulative individual investment inflows in the Citadel Group during his tenure. Armed with BBA, MBA and CFP qualifications, as chairman of IoT.nxt Wayne brings drive, knowledge and wisdom as the company embarks on its rapid growth across various continents.
Recently, Wayne accompanied IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn on a trip to the US. We thought we would tap into his experience on that exciting business trip.
How long were you in the United States and which kinds of companies did you see?
We spent five fantastic weeks in the USA, and visited various cities including New York, Reading, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkley, Dallas and Philadelphia. We saw a number of potential strategic partners from Telcos, Tech companies, Venture Capitalist partners and M&A Partners, as well as a number of end users, including representatives from one of the major metropoles embarking on a Smart City digital strategy.
What were a few highlights and what is something you think we can all learn from the US?
There were many highlights! Too many to mention, but let me have a go at it. The overwhelming validation we received is that what IoT.nxt has to offer is truly significant and unique, and not only competes with other IoT platforms head on, but in many instances is leading the way.
The most apparent learning from the US was without a doubt their desire to collaborate. We met with CIOs, CEOs, VPs and MDsof some of the largest corporations in the world. Regardless of the huge disparity between their organisations market cap and our own, we were treated us as equals and very quickly discussions progressed towards how we could help each other achieve greater leverage in the marketplace.
It is without a doubt this entrepreneurial and partnership-centric approach that has seen the US rise to the world power they are today.
As an African business, how does it change how you approach businesses or venture capitalists?
This is a methodology we have always embraced. Seeing it in action on this scale did however highlight the need for us as South African and African operators to continue fostering a climate of collaboration and partnership – it will see us succeed as a nation and a continent in spite of the hardships we need to face in this part of the world.
We need to change our thinking from having to share the cake if we partner with others, to how we make the cake considerably bigger by partnering! This is the art of leverage.
Has your experience in navigating uniquely African challenges placed you in a strong, competitive space globally? If so, how?
Without a doubt. Africans generally do not have the same prodigious platform for the cultivation of ideas – whether that is in scale of infrastructure, size and risk appetite of investors, buying power of our currency, size of market and speed of adoption etc. However, we are resilient, resourceful and determined. We get to look at problems from a very different perspective when we do not have the luxury of these things to aid us. This results in very innovative solutions.
What is your take-home feeling on IoT.nxt’s prospects in the US market after your visit?
The US represents the largest single market in the world. It would be short-sighted not to have startegies to go and participate in that market, especially with the value proposition of IoT.nxt.
Our ability to work with existing legacy systems and at a considerably higher speed than those with “rip-and-replace” strategies, makes us a compelling IoT play. We are therefore exploring every avenue available to us to ensure we maximise the opportunity the US – and the rest of the globe – represents.
“I believe that from a South African perspective, we often sell ourselves short and don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve,” Steyn says. “We have unbelievable people at IoT.nxt, and that’s what makes our business – it’s the calibre of people we have. I’m a firm believer in investing in people and following our own way of thinking.”
The current business climate creates big opportunities for IT firms, he continues.
“Even the local market is looking good because it’s under pressure,” he says, “And this type of technology helps people drive efficiencies in the business in ways they weren’t able to before. Look at the mining firms that have upgraded their credit rating, despite concerns around commodity prices and the economy, because they’ve become more productive. They’ve cut the fat, and digitisation is what makes that possible, and at the forefront of that is IoT.”