This year’s MIT GSL program is flying by. We have less than a week left before Demo Day and all the students are working tirelessly to develop their applications and get business plans and pitches ready for D-Day. Last week, we had the pleasure of having an MIT alum Andries Botha, Managing Director of Dynamic Strategies come and speak to the students about financials and the South African environment. I have to say that a lot of what he said stuck in my brain ‘faith, love, hope and cash flow’. This was some of the most prominent advice he gave our young entrepreneurs. He reminded students to pay close attention to their business cash flow. They’d need to understand billing, invoicing and payments. You see, for an entrepreneur, running out of money is a big deal.
It was also fascinating to learn that Mr. Botha only took on challenging problems during his consulting days. Not only that, he applied systems dynamics thinking which incorporates unintended consequences of implementing change – this made his advice to companies more sound. In addition, this made his firm quite valuable and allowed him to sometimes deliver unpopular news to clients. It was also refreshing to note that the System’s Dynamics class I took during my MBA course work at MIT was actually not in vain. Many times we wonder whether everything we learn can be applied in the real world, and this was one great example of someone who was using it and was absolutely excited about the discipline.
Towards the end of his lecture, Mr. Botha decided to have our students pitch on the spot. Mr. Botha’s philosophy is that “entrepreneurs need to be selling themselves and their ideas at the drop of the hat. The person next to you on the airplane might be the angel or client you are looking for.”
All in all, a great lecture with lots of learning. Mr. Botha couldn’t have done a better job reinforcing all the learnings we had impacted on the students thus far! It also made the students start thinking about financials for their businesses and realize that the ability to monetize their ideas was just as important as the idea and the problem they were trying to solve.