Starting a software development company in South Africa

Codehesion is well known for producing quality mobile apps and web applications for businesses, but it was not always easy to get companies to trust them with big software projects.

Codehesion MD Hector Beyers told MyBroadband that it took time and persistence to become an established name in the software development world.

Beyers started Codehesion with the help of his friend and experienced software developer Adriaan Cronje.

They believed there was a market in South Africa for a company which produced world-class software products.

While it is a challenge to build trust in a new company, Beyers said their strong focus on quality code and customer service helped the company to win many contracts over more established players.

Loving tech and coding

Like many software developers and tech enthusiasts, Beyers was introduced to the computing field through gaming.

“In primary school I started hanging out at Internet cafes playing Carmegeddon and Quake 3. It was awesome,” he said.

“Eventually I convinced my dad to buy me a cheap Intel Pentium Celeron 2. The computer had so many problems I started fixing and figuring out computer-stuff ever since.”

After leaving school Beyers studied computer engineering at the University of Pretoria, where he graduated with a master’s degree (cum laude).

He then worked as a technical systems engineer and product architect at Internet Solutions before leaving the corporate world to start Aryaka Africa with his former boss Brett Steingo.

The company showed strong growth, but Beyers wanted to explore opportunities in software developments and stepped down as director at Aryaka Africa to start Codehesion.

Starting and funding Codehesion

Beyers said he is addicted to big challenges, and Codehesion provides him with the opportunity to work on projects which satisfy this need.

The company was almost completely self-funded initially, and Beyers said it was hard to make ends meet.

“The first few months of entrepreneurship are very romantic, but reality starts punching back after about 6 months or so,” he said.

He recalls how he used his house as their first office. “On video skype sessions we tried our best to make our study rooms look like a professional office, but dogs and hadidas frequently exposed us,” he said.

Luckily growth came quickly, and Codehesion made its first R1 million in revenue within a year of launching the company.

In 2018 Codehesion moved into their own offices in the Midlands Office Park which gives them a lot of room for expansion.

Biggest challenges

Beyers said as experienced software engineers it was easy for them to design and build great products, but sales and customer relations did not come as easily.

“Learning the sales process and figuring out what was really important to our clients was a challenge initially,” he said.

“It was a lot of fun, and we made a lot of mistakes, but it was our biggest challenge,” he said.

He attributes the success of the company to aggressive but smart marketing combined with passionate developers who love a good challenge.

Hector Beyers’ tech and business choices

Hector Beyers shared his tech and business choices with MyBroadband.

What was your first ever business?

When I was 5, I sold freshly picked fruit from our backyard trees with a friend. We had serious issues with quality control, but our prices were unbeatable. It was an extremely seasonal business, though.

What was your first job and what was your salary?

I was a junior business analyst and was paid R14,500 per month. My co-workers were awesome, but the job was less than pleasant.

What laptop do you use?

Macbook Pro 13-inch. It is a great developer’s laptop.

MacBook Pro 13

What smartphone do you currently use?

iPhone 7.

What is the best gadget you have ever bought?

Kindle Paperwhite – it stood the test of time.

What is the worst gadget you have ever bought?

A Nintendo Wii. I got bored with it in less than a week.

What was your best investment?

Sharing my ideas with people. It has led to good things over the past few years and finally to Codehesion.

What was your worst ever investment?

Lonmin shares. I was trying to be a “value” investor, so I took a punt on the company.

What is the best business advice you have ever received?

Focus only on getting your first paying client. Nothing else matters.

Now read: How Teraco was started, and how long it took to make its first R10 million

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Starting a software development company in South Africa