Robin De Cauwer completed the Young Minds Programme in 2016. He has since gone on to become the founder of Homedoc, an online supplier of high-quality, easy-to-use, innovative medical testing products; DNX Medical (Pty) Ltd, which forms part of a group of companies that utilise state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Cape Town to produce and distribute diagnostics specialising in Urinalysis Test Strips – positively impacting the health of people in South-Africa; and Wolwehoek, a private reserve in Montague.
Robin shared that before starting the programme, “I felt quite nervous because I really didn’t know where I was heading with my life. I had heard from a lot of people that the Young Minds Programme is a really cool programme, which was why I was really excited about doing it – but I didn’t know what to expect.” He enjoyed that all the information that was presented was based on first-hand experience. “All our lecturers work for big companies themselves, they consult, and they’re masters within their field. You can really relate to everything that they say.” He further found that through the year, his mindset shifted. “During this year, my mindset changed to work harder on everything and to excel in everything. I have become more innovative, I think differently about my business and how to react to certain situations.”
He recently spoke to the 2023 intake class of the Young Minds Programme, highlighting five tips from his journey as an entrepreneur:
1. Start with what you have.
When you start, you don’t have access to funding, you don’t have the infrastructure, and you have to do everything yourself. But you can design a website yourself, you find a free online programme that you can design it yourself. You bring in a few products and see how they’re doing. You do your research and find out if there’s a market for them. Then you can do some simple marketing, like spending R10 daily on Google ads. It’s a trial-and-error process, and you’re always learning. When we set up our medical company, it took us years to get the company off the ground, because we’re up against massive companies with millions. So how can you do it? You find resources that are low-cost or free to start. When we began, we were watching YouTube videos about how to build the things that we needed, and we didn’t know what we were doing, or if we were doing it the right way, but we were doing it and continually learning from it. Free software such as Canva, Wix and Shopify are readily available online to get you going.
2. Push yourself to think differently.
We did a market day as part of the Young Minds Programme when I was busy with it, and everyone was making beautiful products to sell at their stands. Our group looked at it differently. We thought to ourselves, “How do we scale this? How do we make the most profit from this opportunity?” We racked our brains and instead, we rented out stands at the market to external vendors that we found on Gumtree, which was far more profitable. As an entrepreneur, you have to push yourself out of the box and think differently, more creatively. You have to spot the opportunities that are around us all the time.
3. Don’t give up – adapt.
When we were working on the medical company, my business partner came to me and asked me what we were doing. The business wasn’t making any money. But I wasn’t prepared to give up the years of effort that we had put in, so I had to rethink what we were doing – and that’s how we came up with our current business model. Remember that you can always come up with the perfect plan for something, and it doesn’t always go according to that plan. So if something isn’t working, rethink it. Don’t give up.
4. Remember that life is like a video game.
In life, you’re the main character in the video game. Remember that it comes with challenges, with ups and downs. You sometimes feel like you’re winning, and sometimes you feel like you’re losing. As you face the challenges and learn from them, you’ll move ahead in life, you’ll move through the different levels of the video game.
5. Take care of yourself.
Focus on yourself. Take care of yourself, then only can you take care of others. Make sure that you keep yourself healthy – as this is true wealth. Surround yourself with the right people, those who support you and have your back. Remember that money won’t make you happy, only you can make yourself happy. And most of all, enjoy the ride, no one else can do that for you!
In closing, Robin shared, “Young Minds Programme is all about personal development, not only about the business subjects. You also get to develop yourself as a person. You get to know what you’re good at and, even better, what you’re not good at. I’d recommend this programme to others because it changed my life, and I’m really excited about life now.”
To learn more about the programme, click here: Young Minds Programme