CAPE TOWN - Mpodumo Doubada has come a long way from buying and selling used student textbooks to a proud owner of five stores in the country.
The 31-year old entrepreneur owns of Pimp my Book, a growing chain of campus stores that sells textbooks to students in major university centres across the country. His business has graduated from the dorms of the University of Cape Town to locations in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Bloemfontein and Pretoria.
Doubada says he started out in 2006 and after earning his first 10 percent commission on the sale of his friends’ textbooks, he identified an opportunity to create a one-stop platform where students could sell their used textbooks for cash, as well as buy the books they need.
He said this happened while he was studying for a Bcom Accounting degree at the university.
“I realised that new textbooks were expensive and old textbooks were difficult to find,” he says. “So I simply collected my friends’ old textbooks and offered to sell them on their behalf.”
Doubada.says within two weeks his room was stacked with textbooks and packed with students coming in and out.
The growth of the business also came with further challenges like space for new ones.
Yet despite these, Doubada persevered and upon completing his MBA he decided to extend the business model to other areas.He says getting to other campuses also proved a difficulty as most were hesitant of doing business with a young company that had no name. There were also campus competitors who were selling new books and the usual struggles with cash flow problems, operational challenges, managing systems and building a good team.
Today Doubada employs 20 full time staff members, doubling this to 40 during peak season.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Last year, Doubada won the Innovator of the Year title in the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year competition sponsored by Sanlam and Business/Partners.
He says winning the award has also boosted his business.
“The PR and recognition that comes with this award is fantastic,” he says. “We have opened a new store in Pretoria since I won the title and we found that the store took off faster as more people knew about us. Our bursary division has signed on 600 new students, this division manages book allowances on behalf of companies and organisations that sponsor student,”
Doubada says his next plan is to expand his business in the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, where he already has clients.
He says the business will also focus on improving its e-commerce site to ensure that he reaches more students.
“We will continue to add new product lines such as laptops and other resources that students need access to in order to succeed at university,” he says.
Doubada’s advice to new entrepreneurs is simple - do not to despair.
“Be okay with starting small, with what you have, and where you are. This is the best way to authentically learn about business. Persevere and with time you will succeed.”
- BUSINESS REPORT