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The official Motribe blog, written by the founders

September 29

I recently returned from a week in New York. I absolutely love the city and more specifically the Manhattan area. I do not love the incredible trek to get there. If you aren’t taking a direct flight and are trying to save money the cheapest flight you’ll find is via Dubai. What a mission. Over 30 hours of travel time.

Once I arrived in New York it quickly became apparent to me that the city genuinely never sleeps. I stayed in Times Square and after a week of living in that area I can honestly say that it is overpopulated with tourists and advertising.

It is always an experience trying to conduct business abroad, in any market. The culture differences become very apparent very quickly. The varying business styles and the magnitude of some of the meetings vary from person to person, company to company, city to city and country to country. Don’t fool yourself, difference exist. But with that said let me immediately respond to those comments by saying that South Africa and SA Business know what they are doing. We aren’t as far removed from our competitors, parallel industries or leaders as some might lead us to believe.

There are some very clear and striking differences though. One of the more disturbing and seemingly true differences that I have found is size. The size of the dream, of the goal, of the ambition that exists in companies and entrepreneurs in New York is immense. People believe they can change the world. People believe that their product is the best in the world and that they have the ability to make whatever they are working on a success.

No one that I met was scared to tell me that their idea was the one to change the way X, Y or Z was done. People know how to tell a story and tell it brazenly and with an ego for all to see. As South Africans I find that we battle with this, I battle with this to an extent. I like to let my work, our products and the company as whole speak for itself. The problem with this is that you basically expect others to do the work and look for the good things. I learned that if you have something good to show, then show it and tell people about and don’t be shy or embarrassed about it.

For some reason I also didn’t stop and think about the volume of head offices based in New York. With that said, I also thought it would be more difficult to meet with people. It’s not. People want to network, want to meet and especially want to find out how they can work with you and benefit from what you are doing. Especially if you have a unique offering that they haven’t seen before.

I think the message that I brought back with me from a week in New York talking to venture capitalists, private investors, digital strategists for some of the largest media companies in the world and entrepreneurs is that in South Africa we are no different and are, in many ways, further in front of many US companies. We just need to identify what our strengths are and find the best way to tell that story.

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