I'm Adii Pienaar, Ask Me Anything :)


Hi @adii

Thanks for giving us your time! Very much appreciated.

You’ve bootstrapped a product and you’ve gone the funded route. You’ve had successes as well as not-so-successful ones (the one right after you exited Woo, just before the break and then Receiptful). All things considered, you have a very well-rounded perspective of what it’s like building, scaling, exiting and shutting down products.

If you were to make a couple points on what an absolute rookie interested in building products should do / pay attention to, what would they be?


RE: Rejection.

Many, many times. We did so many things that didn’t work. Some of those happened behind-the-scenes and others were public failures that we had to walk away from with our tail between our legs. :slight_smile:

Rejection & failure is never fun, but I think over time I learnt that it’s just part of the journey and that the journey isn’t me; it’s just a journey.

RE: Receiptful’s growth.

Right now we’re focused on customer engagement & success, which basically means everything from getting website users to sign up and then go live with Receiptful to ultimately earning their first additional revenue from Receiptful.

The latter is the most important as that is the proof that our product works. We’ll also be using that as a way to build out our revenue in the near future.


Too many African start-ups zoom in primarily on local problems and markets - however the internet opens up a global customer reach. How do you break this jinx?


Disclosure: This isn’t something that I’m very knowledgeable about.

I think the cool thing about an incubator or accelerator is that they combine capital with experience. Young or new entrepreneurs need both of those to succeed. You do get experience, advice and guidance from other investors too, but incubators or accelerators seem more geared to that.

The other thing that I like about this is the camaraderie of your fellow batch mates in the program. Just that mental & emotional support will give any entrepreneur a good boost.


I don’t think it just stops us from developing that world-class startup ecosystem, but it’s certainly not helping.

For a quality startup ecosystem to exist, there needs to that first wave of successful exits for startups. This means founders become angel investors and start new things. Early employees become founders and start up with the stocks they realised through those exits. Startups generally get more PR and become more attractive, meaning more potential employees, more funding etc.

In that sense, I’d definitely recommend that every startup create an employee stock options plan from Day 1. It’s fine to have a vesting schedule too to protect the company for any downside. With Receiptful we do 3-year vesting with a 1-year cliff.


Raising money was always on my entrepreneurial bucket list and Receiptful’s freemium model just seemed perfectly suited to go this round.

AngelList has been fantastic and I look forward to using it for future rounds too.

As for having many investors… The more investors you have, the more time you spend on administrative & communication stuff. But that’s not such a big downside IMO.


Just focus on a global problem from Day 1. Neither WooThemes nor Receiptful was / is focused on any one geography.

That’s not to criticizse a local-only startup. This is fine for some ideas. But if your idea doesn’t have to hyper-local in its focus, just build something for global. :slight_smile:


Read this: http://adii.me/startups-for-first-time-entrepeneurs/.



Hi Adii, a big fan of your career.

Awesome to see South African entrepreneurs playing on a global stage. Quick question: considering your experience with public beta. What do you think the biggest mistake most accelerators and incubators make in South Africa?


PublicBeta wasn’t an accelerator or incubator. :smile:

And I don’t have any experience with accelerators / incubators, so wouldn’t feel comfortable having an opinion about this.


Hi Adii,

You might find that I ask a few questions here. Firstly, why did you leave WooThemes and get rid of any shares in the company? Was it purely just to gain capital for your next startup?


I left Woo, because I wanted to pursue a new challenge and create something from scratch.

I sold my shares, because I wanted to be fully focused on that new challenge. I had a significant investment (on paper at least) in Woo and knew that if didn’t sell my shares, I’d still have to spend some time / energy on maintaining that value.

Plus, I’m just the kind of entrepreneur that would want to help out all the time even though I realistically know it requires 101% of one’s energy & focus to build a new startup. :slight_smile:


Hi Adii,

Is blogging dead…in terms of generating income? If not, how would you start new blog for a niche market?


I don’t know tbh. :smile:

I think the key would just be to create really engaging & valuable content. If you do that and you attract a loyal audience, you can probably monetize it in some way.


You’ve said somewhere that you think Africa is a pretty decent place to start a global startup. Have I misquoted you and would you care to comment?


I think it is, because it has a lower cost of living than any city that could be considered a tech hub. The other benefit is that being based in Africa gives you the opportunity to not follow startup trends and approach a problem with an unique perspective.


I don’t really agree, Not to generalize Africa with that point. Not all cities in Africa have a lower cost of living also depends on what niche in the market you are targeting. The cost of living in Lagos is higher than alot in other major cities around the world. I agree on the fact that the opportunities are here.


Great as Adii’s chat made it to HelloMeed. http://hellomeed.com/2015/05/mobile-commerce-is-africas-future-adii-pienaar/

Adii is a Genius and a mentor for young Africans.

Please what advice do you have for young people like you in Africa trying to venture into business?


Cool, Thanks Adii. What advice would you give someone who is busy with multiple startups at once then? Only focus on one?


Hi @adii great to have you here, you are an inspiration to many. I have a few questions

  • Do you think a startup founder raising fund for the first time should be worried about giving up higher stakes or getting the product successful, whatever it takes?
  • For a freemium product model, which is more important: getting profitable quickly or getting market share?