Ex-waiter sees his booming ice bucket business supply major industry players
JOHANNESBURG - A young entrepreneur has carved out a niche for himself in the multi-billion rand alcoholic beverages industry by manufacturing innovative disposable ice buckets.
Phenyo Sebaeng has founded Sebaeng Solution Manufacturing Company to supply retailers with disposable ice buckets.
Among Sebaeng’s biggest customers is Africa’s largest food retailer, the Shoprite Group.
The sober-minded 28-year old businessman says the ice buckets have been well received by the market and are available at all Shoprite LiquorShop outlets countrywide.
He says they are made from recyclable material with the added benefit that any logo can be printed on it.
The ambitious former waiter says as part of his growth strategy he is already in serious talks with Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company, Heineken South Africa, and multinational brewing and beverage company Distell, to sell to them as well.
The next step is disposable cooler boxes.
“My dream is to see our products in every corner of the world,” he says.
Sebaeng stresses that he wants to grow the company to be the biggest firm offering innovative solutions to the lucrative alcoholic beverages industry.
He says the idea to come up with disposable ice buckets struck him five years ago when he realised that some alcohol consumers did not use cooler boxes to keep their drinks chilled.
“I noticed that your conventional cooler boxes were a bit expensive for the ordinary alcohol consumer. I also discovered that taverns and chesanyamas charged people a fee to use their ice buckets,” says Sebaeng.
“These are the things that motivated me to come up with this idea of disposable ice buckets at affordable prices.”
Sebaeng has a background in marketing management, but financial difficulties meant he could not finish his studies at Boston College.
“I’m very ambitious. I see myself as a creative because I’ve always come up with original ideas since the age of 16. I’m addicted to doing bigger things in life.”
Sebaeng, whose product has become an instant hit with consumers, says it all started last year when he borrowed money from friends for a bus ticket to Cape Town.
He visited the Mother City to attend a meeting with a buyer at the Shoprite Group headquarters.
Sebaeng recalls that he was scared during the meeting as he did not know what would happen or what the result would be. But the buyer was quite impressed with his brainchild.
“We started supplying them in July this year and we should be delivering their second order within the next few weeks,” he says.
“We deliver to their distribution centre in Cape Town and in turn they supply all their Shoprite LiqourShop outlets across the country.”
He calls on young people to stand up and be prepared to fight to see their dreams realised.
“There are lots of people out there who have brilliant ideas,” he says.
“Get an education and look for opportunities. Once you have discovered your strength, your passion and what you are good at, then there’s no need to waste time. Your one day could very well be today.”
He says he feels blessed that at his young age he is supplying Shoprite as this has shown him that what started off as a stupid idea has turned into a big business venture.
“All I wanted to do was to stand up and chase my dream. I still can’t believe what the Shoprite Group has done for us. They gave us an opportunity of a lifetime and on top of that they were very patient with us.”