Last Friday I was invited to take a seat at The Hookup Dinner (THUD) hosted at OPEN in Maboneng. Simply put, THUD is a networking community of entrepreneurs which provides a platform for exchanging great business ideas and opportunities through engaging and contributing to their successes. This particular event focused on the launch of iStarring Cinemas, a business that allows us regular folk to own a piece of an independent cinema and possibly the whole franchise.
Before we got to talking about iStarring Cinemas, the night kicked off with the #JustPitch180 Competition were 4 budding entrepreneurs gave a pitch of their idea or current project in 180 seconds. In this time they had to explain what problem their idea was solving, how they are going to achieve this, the resources required and how their opportunity will generate profit. Audience members were given a score sheet where we were asked to give points to each presenter. This exercise was great because some audience members could actually be investors who are interested in provided assistance or capital. Not sure if that ended up happening, but this was the spirit of the evening.
After all the pitching teams were done the score sheets were collected and we moved right onto the ‘Networking mixer’ portion of the evening. A fave for me. The host encouraged guests to get into groups of 10 and avoid being in a group with someone you came with. I instantly ditched my friend Sunni for a partially formed group with people with friendly faces. I’m naturally an introvert (don’t get me started) so these type of things are terrifying for me, but for whatever reason I was quite comfortable with the situation. The objective of the mixer was for everyone to introduce themselves; what they do, what product or service or organisation they are with and what value proposition they had, if any. My group was super diverse. It had me, the engineer-blogger who was there to cover the event, a guy from the Eastern Cape (who actually knows my younger brother – small world I swear) who works with renewable energy, a branding expert, a paediatrician, a young lady working on a skills development app, a media person from BrownSense Market and a young female farmer who is using amazing methods in organic farming. There were a few connections that were made from that 10 minute session which was excellent considering this may not have happened if we were not forced to interact with each other in that way.
The moment of the night was the introduction of the iStarring Cinemas. I love the name so much! It’s a play on what we used to call the lead star of a film or show growing up (and I guess still today?) as their name came up right after the “Starring” title. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Essentially the idea behind this is to have pop-up cinemas across the country with local content for every day people to have access to their own stories. The best part is that anyone can invest as little as R150 in the making of more cinemas and earn a percentage of the ticket sales. The People’s Fund collective have already raised R180k for their first cinema which launches in two weeks on Freedom Day at BrownSense Market in Glen Austin. Premiere night will screen the much anticipated ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ and musical feature ‘She Is King’.
A master class from industry greats was held at the end of the night. Thandeka Zwane and Helen Kuun from Indigenous Films, and Dumi Gumbi from Ergo Company were part of a panel which gave guests the lowdown on the film industry and the realities of working and creating in such a wonderful but sometimes difficult space. Indigenous Films is South Africa’s biggest independent film distributor and will be supplying iStarring with it’s films. Ergo Company is a film studio which has produced local films such as ‘Five Fingers’ and ‘Mrs Right Guy’. They were not playing around with this launch. These people understand the industry and are committed in bringing film closer to people who don’t necessarily have access. Don’t ever say I don’t tell you nothing!
There are so many people doing such incredible things and THUD really allows for honest collaborations and fruitful networking especially for entrepreneurial South African’s who have the need to create their own opportunities. I obviously bought a small share into iStarring Cinemas, because #SupportBlackBusiness. Felt great!