Siyabonga Tiwana and Tyrone Adams are the founders of Skywalk Innovations, a software development company headquartered in Woodstock, Cape Town with offices also located in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The Skywalk founders were recently listed on the Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 list and their team of 10 is currently serving clients in various countries around the world such as the United States, Namibia, Australia, U.K. and South Africa.
As part of CiTi’s 20th anniversary celebrations, we decided to catch up with these two inspiring entrepreneurs to talk about their journey and their latest achievement.
It starts with inspiration
Tiwana and Adams both found some of their inspiration to start a business rooted in being able to provide African companies with African solutions to help them succeed. “South African businesses needed more affordable options to finding tech solutions and we thought it would be best if the solutions came from an African company, rather than international ones,” says Tiwana. “We also felt that entrepreneurship was the one way in which we could make a large impact in our own country” agreed Adams. Inspiration always seems to come from a place where you feel you can make a real difference.
When asked about some of the difficulties they experienced in the early stages of their business, both entrepreneurs shared that not being able to reach decision makers and managing a business with no experience made the process challenging. “Even though we knew we could do the job, corporates were doubting our abilities because we were still a young business” says Adams. In 2015 Tiwana and Adams joined the Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative’s Innotech program, sponsored by Telkom. CiTi became a resource to them in their journey and provided the young entrepreneurs with free office space during the programme and access to some events that were happening in the ecosystem at the Bandwidth Barn. “Being in the same space as other entrepreneurs allowed us to network” which, according to Tiwana, is “very key when you are running a business.”
Happiness is …
Both founders felt that their happiest moments are when they successfully deliver a project for a client and seeing the clients’ satisfaction and respect for their team members. The Skywalk Innovation team is the heart of the business and Tiwana and Adams love that their employees are happy and genuinely passionate about the company’s mission. The Skywalk Innovation team also provide intern opportunities to help other young people hone their skills and grow.
Recognition goes a long way
Being recognised by Forbes has inspired them to keep growing and building the business, as it showed them that they have many supporters who believe in their company. The inspiration to continue on our journey has been fundamental for me,” says Adams. They both understands Skywalk Innovations to be their “vehicle” in achieving the goal of changing the narrative of African companies from “poor and corrupt Africa” to “the innovation Continent.”
A word of wisdom
Adams and Tiwana would like to inspire other young Africans to take a chance with entrepreneurship and ultimately make the journey easier for them. One of Tiwana’s and Adams’ goals is to encourage employers and employees to “move away from the traditional hourly rates as reason to engage and instead focus on what the success of the project look like for them” and they are certainly achieving this, along with shedding light on the innovation coming out of Africa.
Congratulations to Syiabonga and Tyrone on your achievement – you are truly an inspiration of what determination, a growth-mindset and a mission to bring about change can do!