Roberto CoelhoBy Roberto Coelho|June 30, 2022|7 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow


“The industry model says creativity is not business which is rubbish.”

The story of the advertising rock star, going from rags to riches, from insecurity to confidence,from the sidewalk to number one.

The ever-passionate musician compares the business to U2. “I was like the drummer, who started the
band and my partner is Bono.”
Nevertheless, creativity does not pay the bills and in entrepreneurship neither does business knowledge.
More often than not to pay the bills one must create a world-class product. But Marias did not only want to pay the bills, but he also wanted to disrupt an industry, and so he did.
The first of its kind idea came to life, never seen before on earth, the idea was Take Away Advertising,
“Take away advertising, selling rare, medium, and well-done ideas off a menu at different price points in
a dinner in Cape Town. Advertising for the man off the street. “
This idea was thought up on the couch in his previous living room. The couch is with him today in his
office. His home has changed as he and his long-time wife have a young daughter.
The brilliance of this idea cannot be overstated it was truly disputative, so much so there is still today a
Takeaway Joe Public in Amsterdam.
Yet, the journey of an entrepreneur is not easy, signing the first customer is key. Marais signed a small entrepreneur starting a low-market furniture store and designed the entire brand suit for R800.
“We made R800 and it was the greatest feeling in the world. Now we would charge a million.” Marais
shares as he reminisces on his journey to success.
“It was not easy going from an R12000 salary to R800 between 3 partners. The fear was there.”
The season of fear crescendos, as one of the partners pulled out. He did not have the resilience to push through. 23 years on Joe Public generates R800 ($60) million in revenue and boasts a client list that reads like a blue-chip stock list. Their clients include ABInBev, Converse, Chicken Licken, Nedbank, Nestle, Shell, and Uber to name a few.
“When we began, we started with D league clients. As the old saying goes it takes 17 years to make an
overnight success.”
The success of Joe Public promotes itself. Regularly winning rewards for their artworks has created a
high-pitched tempo by which the company operates at.
A mere 12 years prior and the possibility of this seemed impossible. In the wake of the global financial
crisis mixed with an internal crisis, Joe Public was bankrupt.
“We were one month away from running out of money completely. It was heartbreaking; we worked
ourselves to death but still were going bankrupt. This is when we realized something needed to change.”
A deep change was required.
They were to change the purpose of the business.
The reason for the business was to change from making a profit to Growing Greatness, the phrase
Marias lives by.
“We are to be the fertile soil (it must be fertile) which grows our people, product, and country. By
growing our people to be the best they can be we create the best product and help create a better
country for all.”
This purpose is the air that Joe Public breathes. The culture is clear to everyone as it appears from the
home page of the website to the outside of their building.
“The purpose is the foundation, but the how is the excellence of the product. I believe truly great CEOs,
like Steve Jobs, are driven by the product they provide, not the accounting.”
This simple statement is the basis by which Joe Public remains number one and intentions on growing.
Marais admits there is tremendous space to grow.
“We have so much more to do. We can make our product number one in the world, and create the best
Looking to the future international growth is on the cards with the possibility of an office opening in
London. To stay on top of the game, Marais believes innovation is required at the top of the cycle and not the bottom.
“To often when people at the top they slow down and enjoy the view. This is the time to innovate and
search for a new top.” With this method, Marais believes Joe Public can reach its goals.
To illuminate his view on business Marais shares a story from his band days. Marais is not only
passionate about music but was in a band and played as a part-time musician.
“I used to play music at the Green Market Square.”
The crowds would occasionally gather in front of the handsome man strumming away.
“I learned an important lesson, the better I played the more I would make.” This may seem simple, but often as humans, we are so focused on making money, we do not spend enough time creating the best product or service to generate money. The focus should be on excellence.
“The more I played my heart out, the more my hat would fill up.”
Music, melody, mission, and magic.