Dawn Nathan-Jones, former CEO Europcar & Imperial Rental Division SA, turned investor now heads up her Grow Wealth investment company and talks to Thriving about how she wants to grow the economy by assisting people with potential. She is also a Shark on M-Net’s Shark Tank Show.
Tell us about your background?
I’m from Durban and as a young girl I knew that I wanted to be successful and travel. At the age of 21 I met with a lady who had received some funding to start a car rental business in Johannesburg. She inspired me and we clicked straight away and that’s when I knew that this was for me. Given an opportunity at the age of 21 to set up an office in Durban and start a business was really incredible.
Give us an outline of your current business
A year ago I hung up my corporate hat. I took time out to reflect on where I wanted to be. At a young age I had been a hustler, then grew into a big business and became part of a very large corporate environment. I decided to get back to my roots. Last year I did a couple of things like taking part in the Shark Tank show. Almost by default I became involved in investments and started a company called Grow Wealth.
I assist small businesses. I believe the future of growing our economy is to aid and assist people who may not have had the opportunities we have had. I focus on people with potential and enjoy investing in small businesses, getting to the next level and hopefully they would be able to pay it back and I can leave them and move to the next opportunity.
How do you find investment opportunities?
I keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities; talk to people and identify opportunities. Problems provide opportunities to solve and get a business idea going.
When considering an investment, how important is ROI?
It is a lot about timing. Businesses work in cycles. You need to allow enough ti me to get the business going and it needs to be something that excites me…
Name three things you would be looking for to invest in a venture?
People with integrity, energy and the right attitude. The business should be easy to copy, sustainable and promise a healthy return on investment. It is definitely not a short term approach, but medium to long term.
What lessons have you learnt as an entrepreneur and investor?
The biggest lesson would be not going with my initial gut feeling, or not doing enough homework on the business. Sometimes people hide things and you need to find out about it before a commitment.
What have you learnt from investing in Shark Tank candidates?
The confidence that some good people have and how focused and determined they are. Also how important preparation is before pitching your business idea.