Brucol Global Development (Pty) Ltd
Winner of the Management of Technology award for 2017, category for emerging enterprises
Organic growth is best, whether for veggies or business
Many an emerging enterprise has come unstuck by biting off more than it can chew or, alternatively, skipping crucial growth steps. Bruce Diale, chief executive of Polokwane-based agricultural services company Brucol Global Development, has no intention of going down that route.
“When it comes to managing technology, something we do well is to have distinct timeframes for moving forward with the business,” says Bruce, a qualified soil scientist-turned-entrepreneur. “We operate on strict timescales and our technology process is based on what stage we are at in our markets.”
In its first four years, for instance, Brucol’s focus has been on marketing its water-efficient tower-garden technology, GardenIzly, in rural communities. “Our technology uses a minimal amount of water for growing vegetables, so we have been supplying to rural schools, farmers and households because they do not have easy access to water.”
Since water efficiency and food security are this market’s priorities, Brucol has been concentrating mainly on the basics: delivering and setting up the product so that the recipients can start growing their own vegetables without delay. “There is no need for nice packaging; our market just wants us to deliver.”
Urban markets will have different priorities altogether, Bruce says. They will want attractive packaging, digital material, online purchasing facilities and courier delivery, among other things.
“We have already secured funding from Discovery to develop an interactive website to grow our concept to the next level, the urban market. But we will only take that next step into the urban market when the business is ready. When it is, we will hit the button.”
Brucol’s plans to move into the urban market will mean moving the company out of the emerging enterprise bracket and into a new stage of business development. That will inevitably mean upscaling its manufacturing process.
“As an emerging company, we found partners to manufacture our product for us, using our own mould and according to our specifications,” says Bruce. “As we grow, we will look at doing the manufacturing ourselves and, later, adding recycling to that as well.”
This is what managing technology is all about: handling first things first, but thinking ahead and preparing for the next steps so that when the time is right, it’s all systems go. We look forward to seeing GardenIzly making the rural-urban leap.
Curiosita is one of the Da Vinci principles referring to “an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.” (Gelb, 1998)
The Curiosita Forum is a monthly colloquium for contemporary thinking on the Management of Technology, Innovation and People in a systemic context, hosted by Faculty of The Da Vinci Institute. The forum takes the format of a vibrant round-table discussion that consists of two parts. Firstly, a student speaker presents their research to those in attendance, with the aim of receiving input on their research methodology. Then a guest speaker from industry presents a discussion focussing on TIPS.
Mr Oupa February Mopaki, Chief Executive Officer at Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA).
Title of Thesis: “A Framework for Organisational Performance Measurement and Evaluation in the Public Sector.”
Mrs Teryl Schroenn, Chief Executive Officer at Accsys (Pty) Ltd.
Title of Topic: “Management of People.”
Teryl Schroenn was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Accsys (Pty) Ltd. in 2002. She has spent her whole career in the IT field, starting as a programmer at NCR, moving into Business Analysis, sales and marketing, then general management.
She was selected as the Corporate winner of the BWA’s Gauteng Regional Business Woman of the Year in 2006. She is committed to mentoring other women and is actively involved in internal and external mentorship programs, heading up the BWA mentoring committee for 2 years. Accsys has won a number of awards under her leadership, including the 2017 Top Technology 100 Awards for Excellence in the Management of People for a medium enterprise. She speaks regularly at local and international conferences and writes extensively on business and women’s issues.
VENUE: DaVinci Hotel and Suites on Nelson Mandela Square
DATE: Tuesday 24 April 2018
TIME: 15:00 for 15:30 – 17:30
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Brucol Global Development (Pty) Ltd
Winner of the Management of Innovation award for 2017, category for emerging enterprises
Why this proudly South African tower garden is so unique
Tower gardens for herbs and vegetables are growing in popularity among residents of high-rise buildings in the capital cities of the world, but they can be just as useful in rural South Africa with its wide-open spaces.
“Most tower gardens are for urban farming. Ours was designed for rural areas where people do not readily have access to water; it uses a minimal amount of water,” says Bruce Diale, chief executive of Brucol and co-brainchild of GardenIzly, a uniquely South African tower for growing vegetables.
The fact that GardenIzly was initially developed for dry, rural conditions doesn’t mean it isn’t just as effective in cities and towns. Bearing in mind the water crisis in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and elsewhere, this water-efficient innovation could be just up the street of urban dwellers too, and Brucol is already planning to branch out from rural to urban areas.
The company’s cone-shaped garden tower, which has been fully patented, was the brainchild of father-and-son team Dr Nkgodi Diale and Bruce.
“The concept started when I was still at school,” says Bruce, himself a qualified soil scientist. “My dad, who has a PhD in development studies focusing on agriculture, came home one day and said he wanted to build something that people can plant in. He started with a tyre.”
After much experimentation, trial and error, GardenIzly started to take shape. “Product development in an emerging enterprise is based on errors and complaints. We use feedback to improve the product,” Bruce says.
His own contribution has included advising on and sourcing specialised potting soil for use with GardenIzly, and putting in place the business, sales and marketing systems that this water-friendly product needs to make a splash.
“I set up the systems to see what the market needs,” Bruce says, adding that the value of efficient, effective systems cannot be overemphasised – especially in an emerging innovation company.
“When you are an emerging innovator, it is very important to have capabilities in terms of the business aspects. You need the business skills to determine who you are going to sell to and how, otherwise your innovation will become a white elephant.”
It seems unlikely this will be the fate of GardenIzly, which is already in demand among provincial agricultural departments and corporates with corporate social responsibility programmes. The product is also standing out by winning prizes in business innovation competitions such as the Engen Pitch & Polish and, of course, tt100.
The only way to go is up.