Mpodumo Doubada has come a long way from buying and selling used student textbooks to a proud owner of five stores in the country.
The 31-year old entrepreneur owns Pimp my Book, a growing chain of campus stores that sells textbooks to students in major university centres across the country. His business has graduated from the dorms of the University of Cape Town to locations in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Bloemfontein and Pretoria.
Doubada says he started out in 2006 and after earning his first 10 percent commission on the sale of his friends’ textbooks, he identified an opportunity to create a one-stop platform where students could sell their used textbooks for cash, as well as buy the books they need.
He said this happened while he was studying for a BCom Accounting degree at the university.
“I realised that new textbooks were expensive and old textbooks were difficult to find,” he says. “So I simply collected my friends’ old textbooks and offered to sell them on their behalf.”
Doubada.says within two weeks his room was stacked with textbooks and packed with students coming in and out.
The growth of the business also came with further challenges like space for new ones.
Yet despite these, Doubada persevered and upon completing his MBA he decided to extend the business model to other areas. He says getting to other campuses also proved a difficulty as most were hesitant of doing business with a young company that had no name. There were also campus competitors who were selling new books and the usual struggles with cash flow problems, operational challenges, managing systems and building a good team.
Today Doubada employs 20 full-time staff members, doubling this to 40 during peak season.
Doubada’s advice to new entrepreneurs is simple – do not to despair.
“Be okay with starting small, with what you have, and where you are. This is the best way to authentically learn about business. Persevere and with time you will succeed.”