For many people in corporate South Africa, every day starts out pretty much the same, the morning traffic rush, the wake-up cup of coffee, a quick check of the daily diary, then getting ready for meeting after meeting.
That is probably what certain 3 young men probably expected from their day when they woke up one day in early 2016, unaware that their paths were about to collide and they were about to hit upon one of the most groundbreaking business ideas of our generation.
But the story of the founders of this start-up started many years before as each young man struggled in the race to find themselves, find a unique niche in business to fill and find each other.
Luke Warner grew up in Cape town and overcame many challenges as a young man, starting from the age 6 selling wares from door to door before child protection services took him away, put him through foster care and finally had him placed in an orphanage for 10 years. The young Luke never let obstacles stand in his way though, and soon become a rising star on the local kickboxing circuit and even picked up some medals silver, bronze & gold for South Africa by 2008, though you would never guess looking at soft spoken tech-prodigy now.
Co-founder, Luke decided not pursue professional kickboxing but to take himself through school, working odd jobs like delivering scooters pizza, working a Mr. Video, Spur and feeding dogs whatever It took until he managed to crack an engineering degree at UCT. Shortly after he landed a job at standard bank under their graduate program.
Luke “It doesn’t matter what odds come our way, its normal for us to overcome them, those are the kind of people we are and that is the kind of work ethic we have started this business with”
Though he did not quite have the same upbringing, co-founder James Lawson, equally had to work his way to the top. In the world of business, as he says himself, James has “has been around the block” working oversees and locally, in banking, for companies like Ernst & Young, had a stint in journalism and did some programing and worked in the tech sector and still managed to get an MBA from Gibbs business school. James says working in such diverse sectors gave a chance to glimpse a cross section of how various systems in the business world are operated and already he was seeing one disturbing similar across the board that has been frustrating customers across the world for years.
Already the motivating factors for this business idea were taking route.
“Questioning the status quo. Asking, should this be done at all? Why are we doing this this way? What is the root cause of this problem? These are the kind of people we have always been “James.
Life started out very differently for co-founder Dewald Thiart who hails from a small little mining in East Driefontein. He had the typical small-town upbringing, with big dreams joining a technical school soon after standard 7, he went on to study electrical engineering. At age 17 he joined Standard Bank at the bottom of the corporate food chain but quickly rose became the youngest junior manager at the bank at that time. He didn’t end there, ending up in senior management before leaving the bank to start his own business.
“I discovered a part of myself through that journey, I realized that I’m actually a problem solver” Dewald.
Dewald tells the story of how he met Luke through a mutual friend from Standard banks incubate program who he says told him “Dewald, you are either going to meet your competition or you’re going to meet your match, you just have to meet this guy”
The “blind date” with Luke went better than he expected as they realized that this could be the making of an amazing business idea. So, by the time the two of them met with James a few days later, with his contribution the business was founded organically from that point.
When they came together Luke’s business was called INTERGREAT and Dewald’s business was called (MMI) Me, Myself and I so after merging the businesses together the Startup was named INTERGREATME.
The result, INTERGREATME, is a web mobile app that and allows users to effortlessly upload their personal information and documents to the platform, once and seamlessly share with any service provider that requests it, keeping the data safe with a layered, end to end security encryption system. The system is designed to do away with the archaic and frustrating method of physically filling in personal detail forms.
Through Uprising Africa’s equity crowdfunding platform, the startup managed to raise over 32 million rand in less than 2 weeks with about 400 people investing. This just bears testament to how many people believe in this ground breaking innovation.
So, this start up founder’s long-term dream Is that in the same way people searching for information online say I want to GOOGLE this information, soon when someone ask anyone to fill out a form, they will simply say…INTERGREATME!