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#1 : Nic Haralambous, Tackling retail in the age of the retail apocalypse

Nic Haralambous (@NicHarry) is the founder and CEO of style company Nic has had a colorful history and his career includes learnings garnered from at least ten failed startups over the past 12 years. He also has plenty of successes under his belt: he was the CEO and co-founder of Motribe, the mobile community platform, before the company was successfully acquired by Mxit in 2012 and has previously worked or consulted to many well-known businesses such as the Vodacom, Mail & Guardian, Financial Mail and 702 and he is also an active columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine.

Nic believes there is a massive retail reset taking place right now and breaks down how e-commerce is affecting this. He shares some amazing strategies to thrive in the age of the retail apocalypse. So if you’re interested in product development, retail both online and physical as well as strategies for growing your business this episode is perfect for you.

Show notes and links for this episode can be found at | If you have any feedback suggestions or ideas you can connect with Tom on most social networks via @tkennedysa


  • The Snowball
  • Snowcrash
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for a full list of every book I read and a review + rating


  • Journey – journaling app
  • Pocket Cast – Podcasts
  • Percent Calc – easy way to work out percentage equations
  • Genius Scan – for sending receipts to my accountant. 


How I Built This


  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  • V for Vendetta
  • Love Actually

Role Model

Generally, I admire long term thinkers who have the determination and staying power to build their visions. I wouldn’t consider any of them role models though.


“Strong opinions, weakly held.” 

Favourite Website

4:50 – Interview Start
5:30 – First tattoo at 15 and why.
5:50 – Discussion about Nic wanting to be a war correspondent and his studies in Grahamstown
6:10 – Film recommendation – Harrisons Flower [IMDB]
6:40 – Nic talks about his first company at the age of 18, a student news aggregator. A self-described flop
7:40 – Being unemployable
8:00 – Nic’s talks about his band “Thus Far” and how it was also a business.
9:20 – I Googled as best I could and found nothing about Nic’s band, mission failed.
9:40 – We discuss the link between creativity and business.
11:10 – Article, The T Shaped person, “Jack of all trades, master of one” – See Topics for relevant links
11:30 – “You need to be good at a lot of things and excel at something”.
11:35 – “I would argue that CEOs are generally creative people that are better at business and artists are generally bad business people, but business people who are generally better at art. You have to have one to have the other, otherwise, you will never get discovered.
11:50 – “You can’t be William Kentridge without knowing how to sell a 10 million rand painting
12:00 – Nic’s talks about one of his first large business Motribe
12:30 – Nic’s business partner at Motribe, Vincent Maher
12:40Matt Buckland
9:10 – The Grid – Foursquare before there was Foursquare
9:25 – What is a feature phone?
9:33 – Nic explains his failed business “Emo Fwends”
10:00 – “We did not want to be the uncool profitable business, we wanted to be the cool business with 2 million users”
10:49 – Discussing the exit of Motribe to Mxit
12:40 – Taking a post exit hiatus and seeing a psychologist/mental coach
13:00 – Life coach discussion
13:20 – Depression post Motribe exit and dealing with it
15:00 – Going local and animal Free mindset
15:30 – Elon Musk – Vertical Integration
16:00 – Using R5000 in 30 days to start a
17:45 – Local Everywhere and what it means
18:00 – Harry’s and Benobos – reverse logistics
19:00 – YC startup school – on shifting negative customer emotion or anger to positive
23:00 – Discussing Nic’s retail strategy and product iteration
25:00 – CMT – cut, make, trim
26:00 – The Campbell and the argyle pattern see images
26:40 – Weird distortion, my apologies!
26:30 – Trading density discussion and it’s importance
43:00 – @TimFerris
43:30 – The importance of gratitude
45:30 – @jeff Bezos – Disagree but commit
46:30 – Failure as a lesson
47:00 – Daily routine discussion
48:22 – @chrisssacca – Email is a todo list that someone else gets to decide
48:46 – Book recommendation – Rockefeller habits
49:00 – Nic’s Goodreads profile
50:00 – Greek Coffee v Turkish Coffee
51:30 – Virgin Galactic on not using leather on the chairs
52:40 – Closing thought – “Strong opinions weakly held”

Nic and Tom mentioned the following people during the episode.

South Africans

@MattBuckland – Digital Agency & media owner. Dad of 2. Technut, MTB. Ex Mail&Guardian, BBC, News24, CarteBlanche, iafrica, TimesMedia

@Vincent Maher – Chief Innovation Officer at Kagiso Media, loves techno, gaming and playing Go.


@elonmusk – Elon Reeve Musk is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. Wikipedia

@timferris – Timothy “Tim” Ferriss is an American author, entrepreneur, self-proclaimed “human guinea pig”, and public speaker. Wikipedia

@jeffbezos – Jeffrey Preston Bezos is an American technology and retail entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist who is best known as the founder, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of, the world’s largest online shopping retailer. Wikipedia

@sacca – Christopher Sacca is a former American venture investor, company advisor and entrepreneur as well as a former lawyer. Wikipedia

@richardbranson – Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies. Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. Wikipedia

Some notable quotes from the episode.

“your problem is making them. My problem is selling them”

“We have a complaint we see it as a sale”

“in South Africa customer service is so easy to be good at because everyone else is so terrible at it”

“It’s about building something great”

“Fail Fast”

“Don’t sweat anything”

“If you see failure as lesson then why not fail as often, hard and quickly as you can”

“Strong opinions weakly held”