4 SA brands that became unlikely entrepreneurial successes

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South Africa Brands

Innovation and the ability to spot a business opportunity where others might not are at the heart of entrepreneurship. With that being said, any seasoned entrepreneur will know that not every good idea bears the financial fruits that entrepreneurs hope to reap.

Some of South Africa’s most widely known brands had pretty humble beginnings before becoming the household names we know today. Check out these five brands that became great entrepreneurial success stories.


If you’re a gym buff, you’re likely to have used some of USN’s products to boost your performance. What you might not have known is that the sports supplements empire has humble beginnings, and started out in a tiny flat in Pretoria, hand-mixed in a washing machine. As fitness afficionados started catching wind of Albe Geldenhuys’s magic and affordable mixes, USN’s popularity grew into what is now a multimillion-rand brand.


Wally and Debbie Fry are perfect examples of what success may await if you can spot trends before they really take off. Fry’s Family has turned into a huge player in the vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives market, but was the result of Wally’s own experimentation in the kitchen, looking for meat alternatives for him and his family. Today, Fry’s exports to 20 countries, and has a ready-made market, as more and more people start looking at reducing their meat intake and carbon footprint.


Today, NetFlorist is South Africa’s largest gifting company, but you may be surprised to learn that this market leader was the result of a test website that was built to prove an entirely different point. Ryan Bacher, Lawrence Brick and Jonathan Hackner founded the NetFlorist website to prove to Makro that they could build and run an e-commerce site. Launched on Valentine’s Day 1999, the site was only meant to be up for a day – but the R30 000 in orders that came in on day 1 didn’t just prove the founders’ argument, but also marked the genesis of SA’s go-to online gifting platform.

Chicken Licken

What is today one of SA’s best loved takeaway outlets became what it is thanks to a son’s wild investment in an untested US recipe and a sneaky switcheroo. Tasked with learning more about the industry to boost sales at his dad’s roadhouse, The Dairy Den, George Sombonos spent his last $1000 in travelers’ cheques on an untested chicken recipe in Waco, Texas in the 1980s. Sales at his dad’s joint skyrocketed after he secretly introduced the expensive recipe, but that initial $1000 would turn into turnover of billions of rand, and adoration from

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