As a township kid growing up in Randfontein, Tim always helped his parents to sell stuff. His dad was selling chips & his mom baked. While other kids in the area had playful weekends, Tim had to work or the family didn’t eat.
“I matriculated in 1996 but tertiary education wasn’t on the cards for me. We couldn’t afford it”. Tim got into a free training course to become a security guard, where he planned to work his way into a management position. Becoming a security guard wasn’t his fate – his future wasn’t going to be decided by the lack of a university degree.
Two years into his career as a security guard, Tim heard about a free course in the financial services industry. He failed the aptitude test and had to take it again. Once he was on the course, he failed that too. He didn’t give up though.
He quit his job & begged the course administrator to let him retake the programme. This time he passed & found a job at a small IT firm.
Tim worked at an IT company until he applied for an account management position & moved into sales. His goal was to become a business owner, and so he learnt what he could about business.
Tim paid attention to the world around him, looking for a business opportunity or problem he could solve. “I saw kids in parks doing pull-ups on trees and I kept thinking that a proper solution would be good for poorer communities where gym fees weren’t an option”.
He dabbled with some ideas & ended up with ‘outdoor gyms’.
The more Tim unpacked the idea was the more he began to believe in it. His employers were bothered by Tim’s entrepreneurial play & found reasons to fire him.
About to get married in October 2010, Tim had no job. But it was the best thing that could’ve happened to him because he now could focus on his ‘outdoor gym’ idea. The only problem was MONEY.
Tim entered into a 50/50 business partnership with investors, who would later want majority shares. “They wanted my idea. My baby. I couldn’t agree to that”. By the end of that meeting, Tim had no partners & no funding. He was back to square one.
Tim pushed. He found a warehouse that manufactured play equipment & made a deal with the owner. Tim’s wife sold her car & applied for R200K loan to get him off the ground. In February2012, Tim finally launched his business, Green Outdoor Gyms.
He installed his first outdoor gym and 12 months later, he had R3-million turnover. By the time competition appeared, Tim was already top of his game. He was invited to present his idea in parliament & it was included in the National Development Plan.
Tim had to find a manufacturer that could handle GOG’s volumes and quality, so he went to China & found one. “Chinese manufacturers value loyalty and they’ll do whatever you want at the price point you ask. I developed an excellent relationship with the supplier”.
This relationship allowed Tim to take the next step towards his ultimate vision for GOG: Lifestyle Parks. This was Tim’s life-long dream, to give underprivileged children access to entertainment parks that he couldn’t afford when he was a child.
The first GOG Lifestyle Parks were opened closer to townships, now these are now being opened everywhere across the country. “I’m here today because of my childhood experiences, but before I could invest in this dream, I needed to start small”.
Do not be scared to invest in your own vision. “I’ve lost millions, but I’ve made more because of that. Business is about making money, but I’ve grown beyond that – I want to employ people, develop them & push boundaries. It will look impossible, you’ll get laughed at, but try anyway. That’s how you achieve great things. That’s how you realise your dreams.”