Mmegi Online :: Binns breaks the PR consultancy mould
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Last Updated
Tuesday 26 September 2017, 06:00 am.
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Binns breaks the PR consultancy mould

After being the first Motswana to start a Public Relations company Hotwire PRC about 11 years ago, Kabelo Binns is still a force to reckon with in the industry. Having an illustrious portfolio built over the years, Hotwire has served international brands including Microsoft, South African Tourism, Coke, Google, FEDEX and SABMiller. Binns who began the business from humble beginnings without any external funding now prides himself to have his footprint across Africa. BusinessWeek Staff Writer PAULINE DIKUELO had a tête-à-tête with the PR guru about his journey
By Pauline Dikuelo Fri 09 Dec 2016, 15:01 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Binns breaks the PR consultancy mould








BusinessWeek: What is  Hotwire PRC and how did it start?

 

Binns: Hotwire is an integrated communications firm, which is a home for brand champions and seasoned marketers who do not only develop, grow and nurture brands as we are specialists in relationships and management of perceptions. It was about 12 years ago when I started this company.

I was alone by then and didn’t get any funding to start it.  Like any other business the road was not rosy, but I am proud to say that we are one of the few Small Medium Enterprises (SME) that have grown from one-man operation to what it is today.  We now have a staff complement of 35 and have still remained 100% citizen-owned and run. We have offices across Africa and have done work in African Union, Addis Ababa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, right across Botswana. We are genuinely a Botswana consultancy firm with an average age of under 30.

BusinessWeek: What inspired the birth of Hotwire?

Binns: By the time I started this company, I was fresh from school after practising journalism and public relations. 

At the time when I started, I recognised that most business relations soured because of the conflicts and misunderstandings between the corporates and their customers. It then came to mind that I can bridge that gap by starting a public relations company that will be the middleman between them thus building mutual relationships and I am proud to say that it worked.  It wasn’t the field that was being done at the time, I was the first to start a PR company in that time and today I can count four or five. We trail blazed it, but we don’t own that space certainly.

 BusinessWeek: How many offices does Hotwire have?

Binns: We have offices in Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa.  Then our remaining relationships are what we call affiliate arrangements where we have people who are trading as Hotwire in about 10 African countries, which include Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana just to mention a few. Through the arrangement, they take our IP, use our systems; we have developed a lot of processes, which they use in those markets.

BusinessWeek: What are some of Hotwire’s greatest  achievements?

Binns: We have great accolades with the recent one being the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC).  I am only bringing it up because we have won this award 10 times. Remember the awards have been running for 25 years and we have won it 10 times.  For me it demonstrates one

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thing, that a Botswana business can actually produce products that can be recognised internationally. My other grandest achievement is that I have developed the rest of my business team of Batswana who can function this business without me and for me that is an achievement any company can have.

We are innovative at heart only as much as we are prepared to challenge anything, because nothing is complete, nothing is ever finished, nothing is ever perfect, so we never settle for enough.

BusinessWeek:  We have seen the birth of other PR companies, are you not afraid of competition?

Binns:  No I encourage it.  I actually welcome it, that’s the point because when I started this business, I didn’t plan to dominate it and have no one else join the industry.  What people do not understand is that a competitor can actually prepare the ground for you.

My advice is that people should not be afraid of competition but rather embrace it; it gives one an opportunity, as it widens one’s ability to market their products. Botswana will sort itself out economically if we are prepared to take on competition.

BusinessWeek: What challenges has Hotwire encountered?

Binns: The challenges were nothing unusual that any business would have. We had cash problems because I never got funding to start my own business. I did everything from my pocket, but I am happy to say that we have a clean account, no loans or overdraft. What we do is when we want something, we save for it as a business and that discipline has taught me that sometimes the harder road is much more sustainable.

BusinessWeek: Where do you see Hotwire in five years to come?    Binns: Well the sky is the limit; I see wonderful things and hope that I can continue to do things that I am passionate about.

I am actually in the final stages of publishing my book called ‘The Last Economic Frontier’, which offers marketers perspective on the opportunities that Africa holds for the discerning entrepreneur.

BusinessWeek:  What advice can you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Binns: An entrepreneur needs to keep focus and needs to accept that it’s lonely as you have to spend much of the time working even in times when you are supposed to be with your family and friends.

The biggest killer of an entrepreneur is wasted time, because every single hour must count, the person who succeeds is the one who is prepared to walk alone. Do not waste time, be bold about your decisions.

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