Wayne Zwiers is the CEO and co-founder of Black Beard, a leading South African tech start up that prides itself on building business through technology.
Developers at heart, Black Beard started out as a tech company that built tech solutions for business. They now find themselves building platforms that become the business themselves.
With only two years under their business belt, Black Beard has landed clients such as Anchor Capital, Outsurance and Discovery, and has opened several offices in South Africa as well as Ireland.
With over 15 years of digital experience, Zwiers specializes in leading new product development across cross-functional, international teams.
Zwiers has gathered a team of visionaries to solve business problems with technology, by applying a unique business model built on the delivery and rapid implementation of profitable solutions. He has joined forces with Bongani Sithole, who has 15 years in the technology industry.
A graduate of University of Cape Town and the Wits Business School, Zwiers is passionate about social inclusion, youth development and upskilling. As a keen social entrepreneur, he is leading several projects to assist big brands in identifying promising start ups to turn innovative ideas into successful ventures.
How would you describe Black Beard’s core focus?
Wayne Zwiers: Black Beard’s core focus is disruptive innovation. We thrive on building tech for markets where they cease to function in a regular manner. This is often driven by market declines, physical threats, competitors or industry challenges. Black Beard creates disruptive business solutions through leading technology. We enjoy pushing boundaries in AI, AR, machine learning and robotics.
What makes Black Beard different amongst competitors?
Wayne Zwiers: As a technology company, we have become known as the leading builder of tech solutions. Interestingly, we started out solving business problems through technology, and now have found ourselves building business through tech. We have perfected our model to launch solutions as quickly as possible with a minimum viable product, and get user feedback in order to understand if the solution adds value.
What do you think is the company’s biggest “wow” factor?
Wayne Zwiers: We place a huge emphasis on enabling a small team of highly skilled technologists to deliver defined customer valued products in a rapid time to market. I think our clients are always bowled over by the quality we deliver in a short time, and we do it with added fun and energy.
Why did you decide to start the company?
Wayne Zwiers: We saw a massive opportunity to bridge the gap between business and technology, and then to deliver quality technology. It’s an extremely exciting time to be in this industry, with the amount of incredible tech start-ups that are around now, solving real problems. Since we were young boys, we aspired to be entrepreneurs. I created the life I wanted to be living.
What did you discover as an entrepreneur, as you went along?
Wayne Zwiers: Often innovation and entrepreneurship in South Africa is held back by a lack of skills and lack of access to funding. This is something I am really passionate about; creating jobs and improving skills – it’s what our country really needs. I think it is about developing accessibility as an entrepreneur, and growing your staff with your business at the same time as finding new skilled individuals to compliment the growth path.
Can you name a business obstacle you overcame, and how you overcame it?
Wayne Zwiers: In 2018 we had a lot of projects in the UK, which is obviously geographically far from South Africa. This led to the opening of our Dublin office, and we haven’t looked back. You need to take those giant leaps.
What entrepreneur or CEO do you look up to, and why?
Wayne Zwiers: It would be fellow South African, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX. His vision and creativity are next level. I love his drive and how he kicks detractors to the curb.
Advice to fellow entrepreneurs?
Wayne Zwiers: Keep learning, reading, researching and questioning every day.