Max MatavireBy Max Matavire|June 2, 2021|10 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow

Billionaire Tomorrow

“I want to be a billionaire in my 40s!”

"You can get it if you really want it, but you must try, try and try…" The lyrics of a famous song by reggae singer Jimmy Cliff that could have been written for a young entrepreneur hustling his way through the hungry dog eat dog corporate world to make his mark in technology.

It was a humble beginning for Odwa Ndyaluvane. He was born 30 years ago in the Transkei, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, and grew up on the dusty streets of Mthatha and believes if you set your mind to a goal, you will achieve it.

Now the founder and managing director of Development hub, a high technology product development company, with a staff compliment of 10.

“I want to be a billionaire when am in the ’40s,” says the amicable, entrepreneur who openly admits that sometimes, his fair looks assist him to navigate the difficult terrain, which characterises the corporate world: “because people just like me.”

Fair looks mask a painful past. The last born in a family of four, Odwa says he grew up in a “very hostile” environment. His father was abusive, but he says he has forgiven him and looks back at the environment as one that taught him lessons in life.

“I grew up in rural Transkei like any other ordinary village boy. My father was abusive. He sometimes would just wake me up around 4am justifying that by saying it was in case he wanted to send me somewhere or assign me some work to do. I would wake up and wait to hear from him. Life at home was difficult, as both parents were not working,” says Ndyaluvane in an interview with Billionaire Tomorrow at his offices in Cape Road, Gqeberha, in the seaside town formerly Port Elizabeth.

“However, I have forgiven my father. If I now look back, I see that abuse as a blessing in disguise as in some way, it made me the man I am now.  I now wake up at 5 am to go to the office and in most cases being the last to leave. So, I don’t regret as it taught me life skills although at that time it did not dawn on me. As a poor family, we grew up working very hard at home- young as we were.”

Ndyaluvane says although he was like any other rural boy, there was something in him, a drive for success which he did not understand and could not put a finger on, but he felt it.

“Greatness was installed in me but I did not know,” he says.

” I am surprised these days you hear some youths complaining about peer pressure. I never experienced that when growing up, and I think the reason is because I never wanted to emulate any other boy in the village. Instead, everyone wanted to be me,” says the entrepreneur who is also a natty dresser.

When talking to him and hearing articulate his future plans and ambitions, one is tempted to dismiss him as someone on a wild goose chase, but listening carefully to how he intends to execute his plans, you are inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“When you put your mind, energy and dedication to that which you want to achieve you will achieve it. Nothing is impossible when you tell your inner self you want it,” he says.

After completing his matric in 2010, his next move was to go to then Port Elizabeth and register at the then Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). However, there was a mountain to climb as he did not have a registration fee; as if that was not enough, he did not even have transport money to travel to Port Elizabeth.

“I won’t forget this -my mother gave me her last R20 (about $1.20 ) and this was not even enough to take me to East London (more than three hour’s drive away). At first, I wanted to reject the money as I knew my mother would be left with nothing. But on the other hand, I needed an education and was convinced from an early age that it is that education that will change our lives. So, I took the R20,” he said becoming emotional as his eyes well up with tears.

“I thought what would I do with this R20. Instead, I bought airtime with it and started phoning around. I contacted one of my friends who owned a taxi and I managed to convince him to take me to Port Elizabeth. He agreed and I knew I had navigated maybe the toughest hurdle.”

He registered for a three-year BTech degree. Ndyaluvane says, as someone driven, he took his studies seriously and as someone who was already interested in technology from an early age, he did not encounter many problems with his studies. As a student, he embarked on small various technology solutions projects which gave him a bit of cash.

With some of his colleagues at varsity, they entered and won a number of technology competitions held by some companies through sponsorships. In 2015, when doing his final year in software development, one of his projects won the best innovation at the university, and according to him: “This fuelled the fire which was already burning in me.” From then on, he continued developing solutions and applications for people and companies.

“During this time, I was not focussing solely on money, but on building value, reputation and confidence.”

It is at this stage when he thought of starting a company, which was conceptualised in university lodgings.

“Running a business as a student is not easy, but with the help of friends and from my own savings, I managed to support the enterprise. There were times when I did not even know where the next deal would come from, but I never for a single minute doubted that I would succeed,” he says.

On leaving university, after graduating with a BTech, he went full force and began building developing Developmenthub. He describes his company as an expert in the development of cutting- edge artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) systems. This, he says, necessitates a robust knowledge of software development, electronics hardware as well as a strong emphasis on algorithm creation.

Developmenthub’s vision is to be a leader in building and exporting first-world enterprise software and technology products globally.

Some of the company’s clients are Jendamark, a sportswear distributor, Cloud Atlas, Propella, a technology hub, Edge Growth, Institute of Business Advisers of SA (IBASA) and Apex among others.

Since its inception, DevelopmentHub has since developed its own two products and these are Ubiquitous and Ubiquitous is a smart meter solution that assists utilities and municipalities with their billing systems. Sales.i0 is a B2B data-driven artificial intelligence sales automation.

“Our aim is to listen to African problems and find solutions. We are building an African-based enterprise which will tackle African technology problems. The target is also to impact 10 000 entrepreneurs a year and help them attain business success through the use and understanding of technology products and solutions. As an individual, I aim to be a billionaire around the 40’s and it’s achievable,” he says with a cynical chuckle.

Fortune favours the brave so maybe he has a fighting chance.