ProsperiProp’s Llew Morkel looks back on a life of disruption.
I grew up in Boksburg, and started developing software when I was only 13 years old. The first application I created was for a school project, which I developed in GW-Basic. I remember being one of only two students that submitted their project on a floppy disc. Everyone else handed in printed or handwritten documents.
A disruptor was born.
At 16 I started my commerce education. I found a job as a casual employee at JET stores in Boksburg, and spent every weekend and school holiday for the next three years unpacking stock, folding clothes or manning a cash register. I learned about retail and customers and the value of a hard day’s work.
After school I studied marketing at first, but soon found out that it wasn’t my passion. I left university and started work for an Internet Services Provider – one of the first in the country. It was the Bacher brothers who inspired my entrepreneurial spirit. And, my experience with the Internet helped me land a job at a major bank, working in its Internet banking division. Our team’s mandate was to change the world of banking; fintech in its infancy!
I qualified as Java software developer and created some of the country’s first mobile apps. Back then it used to be that sleek little Nokia 6110 that shimmered in the sunlight. We created a property listing application that worked on the Sony Ericsson P800. The app could take pictures and upload the property online before the agent even left the property. This app had all the potential of disrupting the estate agent market – but it was ahead of its time. Back then very few people knew what an app was.
My first real success as a fintech entrepreneur came with the launch of an online escrow platform. This platform made it possible for the ordinary person to setup a safe transaction between two or more parties, without the need for a lawyer or a bank to mediate the transaction. We managed to put a product in the market that would disrupt cross-border trading and the need for letters of credit.
I sold the escrow business and used my time to focus on a new vision. I set out to make it possible for the middle to low-income earner to benefit from the wealth-creating power of property. ProsperiProp was born about two years later. ProsperiProp uses Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to create new opportunities in property investment.
We created a business model that will ultimately make it possible for someone to buy into an array of the world’s top share portfolios for as little as R25. That R25 earns the same interest, and the same capital appreciation as a million-dollar investment in the same shares.
Disruption will happen.
It is inevitable. New thinking will always challenge the establishment. New technology brings new opportunities and the establishment knows they need to embrace it or get left behind. The challenge for us, the disruptors, is to find ways to work with and learn from the establishments.
I’ve learned that it’s important to know your strengths and leverage partnerships and encourage collaboration in order for disruption to be effective – it cannot work in isolation.
New technology brings new opportunities and the establishment knows they need to embrace it or get left behind.
The problem with disruptive technologies is that they are just tech. They aren’t a business. There is so much more to a business than just the tech – just ask UBER. We can learn from the establishments about being a business. I believe that the establishment has a big role to play in offering the necessary legal frameworks, supporting the client, bringing trust and big brand power.
- Llew Morkel is the CEO and founder of ProsperiProp.