With five subsidiaries under their umbrella company, their focus is on how to reinvent products
A sharp business acumen was obvious when he started selling and servicing computer parts when he was just 15 years old. A few years later, he borrowed R50 000 from a bank to buy a single printer. And today, Melvin Iverson, 32, is the man behind what he considers is “a-onestop-shop” for all things events and mediarelated in Port Elizabeth.
His holding company, Eikon, is home to several subsidiaries in the gaming, events, manufacturing and entertainment industries.
You have a lot going on with Eikon and your subsidiaries. What does each one do?
Eikon is the main company with five publicly known subsidiaries. Under that umbrella we own Yo! Media, which does marketing, events, branding, social media management and advertising campaigns.
Then we have the first business I started, called Amuse Photo Booths, which supplies booth rentals and sales for weddings and parties in two provinces.
We also have Brave, which does teambuilding, transport and small-scale accommodation. Then there is Scribes, which is a manufacturing business doing vinyl cutting, laser cutting, CNC services, printing and wooden products.
Lastly, there is Epic My Event, which offers outdoor cinemas, arcade games, karaoke systems, lawn games and décor design.
How do you find the time to manage the different companies?
It all comes down to teamwork and delegation. Amuse Photo Booths has sold its business modules and functions like a franchise, each branch has an owner but we are always on call to assist as they use our products and purchase upgrades via Eikon.
The rest of the managerial duties are split between myself and my business partner, Cameron Millar.
What would you attribute the success of your businesses to?
A lot of hard work, late nights, blood, sweat and tears.
Having entrepreneurs around also helps a lot. You cannot be on this journey by yourself. I also have an award-winning business mentor who guides me.
You started out at a very young age. Describe how you started your first official business?
I took out a student loan from FNB and had my parents sign surety.
I then imported my own plotter [printer] and offered the city’s first “book to print” system, which operated 24/7.
Architecture students could then book a slot or e-mail their drawings to us to get printed while they continue building their models.
This saved hours. Our tag line “Don’t waste time standing in line” was born and eight years later, we still offer this service.
The income needed to be invested and, over a glass of wine, I toyed with the idea of building a photo booth. Five years later, we have an entire fleet with a couple of vehicles delivering throughout the province. We then saw the media capabilities with photos and social media, so we launched Yo! Media four years ago and gained a substantial market share. We further invested in Epic My Event to import games for rental and sales.
Did you do any planning before applying for the loan?
No, I followed my instinct and went after my idea. Only when things grew I started to take it seriously and followed a plan. I was very young back then and taking risks is a part of my fabric. Scribes was a no-brainer to me, there was a huge gap in the market.
How else did you manage to tell people about your services?
Through networking and wordof-mouth the news spread quickly as a big need was met. Today social media is vital for us.
If someone wanted to start in your industry, what is the first thing they would need to do?
If I could go back in time, I would have said networking and financial planning. .
What were some of the biggest challenges in establishing the business?
Our biggest challenge was rethinking technology to work around our needs. We were ill-equipped for this.
Constantly trying to be at the forefront of innovating an idea was also a big challenge, for example looking at how can a product be “reinvented” and used as an income generating asset.
It is very difficult selling an idea before people realise its potential. But once they grasp it, the rewards are monumental.
What are your biggest achievements in your businesses?
One of the biggest rewards was the day Amuse Photo Booths sold its first business module. Yo! Media moving into our dream office was a big milestone for us.
Lastly, the day Scribes expanded and eventually partnered with a national empowerment programme.
What satisfaction do you get from running your own business?
Freedom. Freedom to create. Freedom to fail and rise up, to change lives.
How many people does your enterprise employ?
Eikon and its subsidiaries employs 15 people during off-peak season, and up to 20 in peak season.
What do you believe is your business’s unique selling point that sets you apart?
Every business we own has evolved out of one another and become independent entities. Should they require assistance from each other, they can outsource to an in-house brand which gets the job done quicker, at a better price and to our standards.