Steering his own success

WHAT started out as a favour for friends has turned into a very profitable venture for driving school owner Thembani Mpondo, whose love for business has always driven him.

The New Brighton businessman said his friends had repeatedly asked him to teach them to drive, and in November 2010, he decided to start teaching as a business because he was unemployed.

The 33-year-old entrepreneur, who has also been involved in entertainment ventures, said he had started Mr Teee's School of Driving with his aunt's car.

"It was a Hyundai Getz, which was later bumped by a taxi and written off, which set me back a bit.

"But I managed to save and buy a new car after that, and a year later, I bought a second one, also brand new," he said.

He said he had started off with two clients a day and now works for more than eight hours straight with both cars, teaching one client an hour.

Mpondo said one of the hardest things about starting a driving school was having to fully finance yourself as it was viewed as a risky venture.

"I started the business with no working capital and had to constantly buy petrol and pay for maintenance costs with the same money brought in by clients and still had to survive and live with the same money.

"Most, if not all, institutes don't want to finance a driving school because it's a high risk business to them irrespective of the potential it has."

He said he had viewed all the challenges as opportunities for growth and had taken them in his stride. "And every day I got more clients who were happy and recommended me.

"It was necessary to go through a few hardships to get here."

The businessman only offers Code 8 lessons for now and travels all over the Eastern Cape for bookings with clients.

"I don't have money for a truck yet but will get there." He said the best thing about owning and running a driving school was the feeling at the end of the road when a client received their hard-earned licence.

"Another one is the networking with people from all corners of the world, giving them a skill they need to get through life, helping them be employable and the great feeling they get when getting their drivers licences and the pride you feel as an instructor."

Mpondo said while he loved being self-employed, the hardest part was the hours.

"The busier you get, the less time you have for yourself and your loved ones.

"I love it though. It is still a work in progress, but it's mine."