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  • Writer's pictureGreat Companies

Michelle Cave, Founder and MD at Brandfundi (Pty) Ltd

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Michelle Cave: I have always had the ambition to run my own PR and marketing agency. I studied this discipline and worked in this industry for 16 years before I was retrenched in July 2015. I took the opportunity to start up Brandfundi.

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by Brandfundi (Pty) Ltd

Michelle Cave: Our brand communications agency offers brand reputation management, corporate communication, issue & crisis management, corporate social responsibility and social media management, content creation, writing and training.

Great Companies: What makes Brandfundi (Pty) Ltd different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Michelle Cave: Brandfundi is owner-run. In many agencies, the top execs pitch for the business and then once the account is won, it's managed by juniors or middle management. Every client that works with Brandfundi gets access to my seasoned expertise and hands-on service. Moreover, as a family-run business, our team is personally invested in delivering excellence for clients. As a single mother responsible for my family's livelihood, I take all work seriously, offering a professional and honest partnership to each client. We're boutique, so turnarounds are quick; no red tape and traffic departments etc.

We don't take on more than we can handle from a capacity point of view. We don't want to employ more staff, so if our team is at capacity, we graciously decline the work. While we work with freelancers, we'd never fully outsource the job - quality control is critical. We build our long-lasting relationships with the attention and excellence we give our clients. We're also renowned for finding proactive, strategically sound client opportunities. We spend a lot of time educating the marketplace about PR and marketing. Through thought leadership, white papers and social media content, Brandfundi aims to share its knowledge with the market and shed light on a largely misunderstood industry. Our differentiator is our investment in the relationship and in delivering for our clients. Furthermore, we try to accommodate all budgets.

Great Companies: What were the struggles and challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Michelle Cave: Confidence was an issue in the beginning. Initially, I felt compelled to provide as much detail and as many ideas as possible to “convince” my prospective clients that I knew what I was doing. So I would work for days on a proposal and hand over a plan for anyone to implement. I was giving my IP away for free. Over time, my confidence grew, and I secured new business by providing an outline, saving time and protecting my IP.

Starting out, I tried to do everything myself to “save” money. I wasn’t comfortable relying on outsourced resources to deliver the standard of work that I felt was necessary. That said, after many 16-hour days, lots of sweat and tears, and a little more cash flow, I could delegate tasks and afford myself more time to market my agency, think strategically and do research. I’ve built a network of professional and reliable associates who help me deliver excellence for my clients.

Isolation was a challenge, which I overcame by actively reaching out to my network to help me shift. Working under so much pressure left little time for relationship building, which became a key focus later to help share ideas and contacts and serve as a sounding board for entrepreneurial advice. I also hired a full-time team two years in, which helped shift this thinking.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Brandfundi (Pty) Ltd?

Michelle Cave: We hope to continue to grow our business, specifically in the digital marketing offering. This year, we’ve performed really well in terms of billings, and we’re set to outperform last year’s turnover. We introduced videography into our offer and hope to build on that more as a future objective. Otherwise, we really just want to maintain a solid, stable business that delivers on its promise and upholds its reputation.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Michelle Cave: Relationships! Don’t burn bridges. A falling out with a previous employer or colleague can follow you throughout your career and potentially close doors to future opportunities. And entrepreneurs need networks!



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