‘You don’t need funding or connections to start a business,’ six-figure start-up proves

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  • Musi Atchar is a small atchar business started by Modikwe Musi in Pretoria at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • It started as a simple challenge to prove that not everyone needs funding and connections to start a business.
  • Although the business started at Musi’s parents with no money at all, the 24-year-old entrepreneur managed to grow it into a six-figure business in just one year.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Musi Atchar, an atchar business started by Modikwe Musi, launched in 2020 during the pandemic as nothing more than an Instagram challenge. Today, Musi supplies his spicy product almost everywhere in South Africa and runs a small six-figure business.

The challenge was to prove that you can start a successful small business without funding or connections, and Musi took it upon himself to be the guinea pig.

“During lockdown level 5, going into level 4, I met an entrepreneur who was live [on Instagram], giving business advice. I joined the live [insta] because I had something to share.

Musi Atchar (provided)

“He liked me and thought we were going to start a movement where we have lives every night and just talk about business and encourage people to do their best in the midst of chaos,” he told Business. InsiderSouth Africa.

Using the platform, the team then started a charity and managed to raise R1 million by asking for donations.

According to Musi, during one of the live sessions, someone said “in the country we live in, without connections or funding, you will never succeed in business”.

Musi Atchar (provided)

Musi Atchar (provided)

And, in an attempt to prove that’s not true, Musi was challenged to start a business from scratch with no funding or connections.

“I went back to the drawing board, tried to think of all the ideas I could throw at no money, and nothing came to mind.

“I was at my parents’ house at the time. I walked into the house and saw my mother making atchar. I thought this atchar was delicious and I’m enjoying it. Maybe ‘there’s someone else who might love her,’ he said.

Musi, who was 22 at the time, used his expertise in e-commerce to create his own site and marketing campaign to get the atchar to customers.

“Because we still had no funding, we had plastic bottles at home, packed the atchar in the bottle and made our first sale, then our second sale.

“The journey was a little harder than it should have been, but the guidance I have now is what carried me through the journey and helped me succeed,” said Musi said.

Musi Atchar (provided)

Musi Atchar (provided)

The entrepreneur, who is also a luxury car salesman, asked a few people to post information about the product on their Instagram stories because he didn’t have enough money to pay for Instagram posts. He basically swapped a bottle of atchar, which sells for R99 a litre, for an Instagram post. It started to spread like wildfire.

“I offered us an atchar subscription service because I had a lot of regular customers. I noticed that sometimes a customer would forget to place their monthly order, so I approached them and told them if I could charge you each month for your purchase, then you won’t need to log back into the site or enter your details for an order,” he said.

Through the subscription service, the entrepreneur has customers who have subscribed between five and ten bottles per month in different parts of South Africa. Its product comes in different flavors ranging from Normal, Musi Mild and Musi Fire.

In addition to his mother, the 24-year-old entrepreneur also has two other employees and between December 2020 and July 2021 the business generated six-figure sales.

“One of the best things I’ve learned is that if you put your customers first and always give, they’ll want to support you no matter what,” he said.

After dropping out of Wits University to focus on his failed first venture, Musi knew there was something for him. He encourages other young people to believe in their ideas.

“Never be afraid to start small but always think big. A lot of entrepreneurs feel like they can’t start their business without funding, they think they need the best offices and the best machines to get started .

“We started extremely small, but we always knew what the big picture was. If we hadn’t started small, we would never be here today,” he said.

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