Meet the Boss: Tshepo Moloi, founder, StokFella

1. What was your first job?

I worked at Ster-Kinekor (South African cinema chain). I used to sell those movie cards before they became free.

2. What parts of your job keep you awake at night?

Meeting expectations. Once the media gets a hold of you and there are so many articles, so many things where you tend you ask yourself ‘Can I meet those expectations?’. But that’s what keeps me awake – the dream to meet those expectations.

3. Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

I would my professor from varsity – professor Andre Nel. He was my mentor, he is still my mentor. He has shaped a lot of thinking that I have had.

4. What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

I guess it was from a book. Malcolm Gladwell’s book [Outliers]… 10,000 hours. It goes that for you to master a skill or a certain profession, is to get 10,000 hours behind it. So every time I start something new I actually make sure that I put those hours behind.

5. The top reason why you have been successful in business?

The previous learnings, I guess. Knowing what to do and when – and what not to do. Nothing is better than learning from your mistakes

6. Where’s the best place to prepare for leadership? Business school or on the job?

Both actually. I think both provide certain skills that you need – or certain perspectives on business that you need. I know some entrepreneurs that have never gone to business school and are doing well, and I know some entrepreneurs who have been to business and are doing well. So I think you need both. At some point, those who have never been to school came to want to go to school – that is something I have noticed. So that they back it up with that literature. But the truth is that both have certain aspects and both can lead you in certain directions.

7. How do you relax?

I switch off the lights in the room and I sit in the dark. I just listen to my thoughts – that’s how I think.

8. By what time in the morning do you like to be at your desk?

It really depends. If, like for now, we’d be [busy with something important] – I am up already by 4am. I am at my desk at about six. This is when there are tight deadlines – but on a normal day, I am at my desk by 8am. But really, I work in the evening more than anything else. At night, that is when I really work hard. During the day it is mostly meetings, or talking to people – call it a ‘social day’ during the day.

9. Your favourite job interview question?

Culture; what kind of a culture you are looking for. Because that will define if you will fit in StokFella or not.

10. What is your message to Africa’s aspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs?

Your environment and your background does not define your success. It has never defined anyone’s success – from Mandela to Ghandi to Obama. A bit of cushion does help when have that background – but your environment, it does not define you.

StokFella is a mobile app that helps stokvels (savings or investment societies in South Africa) manage payments, savings, and group activities.