Lester Philander takes marketing to another level
In the highly competitive entrepreneurship industry, gaining an added advantage as a company is sometimes a product of equipping yourself with the necessary expertise acquired through business coaching.
One such way of gaining the business acumen it takes to have an edge as an entrepreneur is through the Entrepreneur Incubator & Academy (EI), which renders business coaching sessions that have led to a number of young entrepreneurs being able to make it for themselves in the world of business.
Lester Philander (27), who is the MD of a company called Essential Candle, is among the clients that have benefitted from this business coaching offered by EI. One could say that Lester is a born entrepreneur as he has been business-minded since his primary school days when the idea of starting a business was entrenched in his thoughts at such a young age.
He explained how the seed of what is now a successful business venture started being planted in him at a tender age.
“This started back in 1999 when my economics teacher encouraged me to enter a programme called Junior Achievers, a school project that was supposed to make and market candles. That is where I learned a lot about business analysis and marketing”, he said.
Lester’s business, which was officially launched in 2013, specialises in manufacturing candles that are branded and sold to restaurants to display on tables. These candles have a QR code that customers can scan with their phones and this will take them directly to an advert on a social network.
This distinct product serves a dual purpose, as he explained.
“What set us apart from our competitors is that this is not just a candle in a glass. It is a marketing tool that we have now labelled ‘bandles’”.
Lester, who was one of the SAB Kickstart Enterprise Development Programme’s top 60 black youth entrepreneurs, said when he went to one of his coaching sessions with Bruce Wade at EI, he was looking into expanding his business into marketing through making use of social media.
“Technology is evolving and I don’t want to be left behind. I want to move with the times and be up to date with the trends of today,” he said.
Philander, who is an outstanding achiever, got a bursary that covered his full tuition towards his degree in Business Economics in 2009.
He said he has had to navigate past some potholes on the road to where he was today, adding that it took a lot of hard work and persistence to get there.
“You have to be persistent, innovative and consistent in order to make it in this journey of entrepreneurship.”
Lester, the 2014 Sage 1 Cape Talk Business of the Year award finalist,said he was not yet where he wanted to be but he was slowly but certainly getting there with the help of Bruce Wade as his business coach. He has a lot of great ideas up his sleeves, so his competitors better watch the space.
He further had valuable advice for upcoming entrepreneurs: love what you are doing and be good salesmen. “Passion can never let you down,” he said.